Canon's LBP151dw Monochrome Laser Printer

When All You Really Need Is a Few Black-and-White Pages Now and Then

Canon's LBP151dw printer against white background.
Canon

Pros

  • Fast for price and class
  • Small footprint
  • Auto-double-sided printing

Cons

  • High cost per page

Bottom Line

If all you need is to print a few hundred pages per month, this little single-function monochrome laser printer is a good value.

One thing’s for certain, there’s no shortage of single-function, monochrome laser printers on the market. It seems that every time we review one, two or three more debut. What that tells us, among other things, is that these types of machines are in high-demand—from the occasional user who prints a few hundred pages or less each month to the high-volume output environments that print tens of thousands of pages month in and month out.

The topic of today’s review, Canon’s imageClass LBP151dw Wireless Printer, for example, is a low-cost, low-volume model comparable to, Dell’s E310dw printer, another low-cost, single-function, monochrome laser-class printer (“laser-class” because this is actually a fixed LED-based machine, rather than an actual laser device). If you need a machine that can also scan, copy, and fax, you might want to check out Canon’s ImageCLASS MF227dw Black and White Multifunction Laser Printer.

Design & Features

At 15.4 inches across, by 13.2 inches from front to back, by 9.7 inches high, and weighing a slight 17.6 pounds (19 pounds with the toner cartridge loaded), this Canon is certainly small and light enough to sit on your desk beside you, and it’s short enough to fit under most low-hanging cabinets or shelves. If, however, you plan it for multiple users, you may not want your desk to be where everybody goes to get their printing.

Since all the LBP151dw does essentially is print, it doesn’t have a scanner nor an automatic document feeder for feeding the scanner; hence, it really doesn’t need much of a control panel, either. In this case, all you get is a few status lights and buttons. There are also no ports for printing from SD cards or thumb drives--but then again this is an under-$100 printer.

On the other hand, you do get access to several mobility options, including Apple’s AirPrint, Google’s Cloud Print, and Mopria for printing from Android devices. Missing, however, are Wi-Fi Direct and Near-Field Communication for making peer-to-peer connections between your mobile device and your printer. The former is a protocol that allows you to connect your Android mobile device to the printer without either it or the mobile device being connected to a network or router, and the latter allows you to print by simply touching the Android mobile device to a hotspot on the printer.

As for basic connectivity, the LBP151dw supports Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and connecting to a single PC via USB. Keep in mind that choosing that last option--connecting a single PC to the printer via a USB printer cable--would preclude you from using most or all of the mobility features listed above.

A few other notable features include:

  • Embedded Web browser for remote user interface (UI) support
  • Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) for near-instant, push-button wireless network connection
  • Maximum print size: legal (8.5x14 inches)
  • HP’s PCL6 (Printer Command Language support for greater compatibility)
  • Supported media sizes: Letter, Legal, A4, A5, B5, Executive, Statement

Performance, Print Quality, Paper Handling

Canon rates this printer at 28 pages per minute (ppm) simplex (single-sided) and 16ppm duplex (two-sided). Keep in mind that 16 duplex pages are actually 32 printed pages altogether, one on each side. However, those numbers are for pages consisting of unformatted text made up of fonts default to the printer and no graphics or images.

As those items—formatting, downloadable fonts, graphics, and images—were added to the test pages, the ppm (as it would on any printer) plummeted to less than half, or about 12ppm simplex and 9ppm duplex. This is, after all, primarily a text printer designed to spit out unformatted text, such as invoices, receipts, doctor’s instructions, and thousands of other types of black-and-white plain text pages, quickly and efficiently.

As for print quality, it does a great, near-typesetter quality, job when printing text of all shapes and sizes down to about 6 points, which is quite small. Simple black-and-white business graphics, such as PowerPoint handouts, look good, as do photographs—as long as you’re not expecting too much. Keep in mind that the printer must, in most cases, convert a color image to grayscale prior to printing it, which is an intricate process. In this case, images are near newspaper quality or about as good as it gets for a printer in this category.

The LBP151dw has one 250-sheet main cassette for feeding paper to the printer, as well as a single-sheet override tray for printing envelopes and other one-up media, primarily to avoid having to open the main drawer and thereby take the printer out of service. Again, paper handling was adequate for this little printer.

Cost Per Page

We’d be a lot more enthusiastic about this printer if it were a little cheaper to use. It supports only one size toner cartridge—a 2,400-page unit, which isn’t bad if you’re printing only a few hundred pages each month, but if you’re actually pushing it anywhere near its 15,000 monthly duty cycle (the number of prints that Canon says you can print month after month without undue wear on the printer), this printer may cost far too much to use. In any case, it works well as a low-volume machine.

Conclusion

The LBP151dw is certainly a good personal printer, and it works well for printing receipts, quotes, and other documents quickly. If you keep in mind that everything about it, from its 100-sheet output tray to its somewhat high CPP, suggests low-volume printer, and use it accordingly, it should deliver good value.