Dell’s Inexpensive E310dw Monochrome Laser-Class Printer

Decent print quality and CPP from an entry-level printer

Dell E310dw single-function monochrome laser-class (LED) printer.

If you’ve ever wondered, why Dell offers so many small, or personal-size, monochrome laser-class printers (surely, one of those things we all contemplate often), I can offer an educated guess. Dell serves many small businesses and workgroups—so many of which use (some even require) black-and-white laser printer output; hence, the company has a ready-made clientele for these types of inexpensive printers (and so many opportunities to up-sale).

The last monochrome laser-class machine I reviewed from Dell was the single-function S2810dn Smart Mono Printer,

Design & Features

Let’s start with this “laser-class” mumbo-jumbo. Quite simply, since this, like so many other entry-level machines of its ilk, deploys stationary light-emitting diode (LED) arrays, rather than scanning lasers, to burn the page image onto the imaging drum, which in turn transfers the toner to the paper. LED arrays make for cheaper-to-make and less-expensive-to-use (in terms of power) laser-style printers. 

Other than that, at 14 inches across, 14.2 inches from front to back, only 7.3 inches tall, and it weighs a mere 12.8 pounds. Not only does the E310dw have a near perfect-square footprint, but it’s also quite small and light, taking up very little space on your desktop.

Since all it does is print, it has no control panel to speak of—a few buttons and a one-line monochrome digital-readout-like LCD, used primarily to configure the printer. Mobile connectivity features include Google Cloud Print, Apple AirPrint, Dell’s own Document Hub to help in connecting iOS (iPhone, iPad) Android, and Windows Phone (or Windows 10 or whatever they’re calling it now).

The E310dw also supports Wi-Fi Direct, a protocol for connecting the printer and your mobile device without either being on a network. Not supported, though, is the touch-to-print protocol, near-field communication, or NFC. For a description of the latest mobile connectivity options, check out this “Printing from Your Mobile Device” article.

Performance, Print Quality, and Paper Handling

Dell rates the E310dw at 27 pages per minute, or ppm, or the speed the printer can obtain when printing all text consisting of default fonts (fonts already downloaded to the printer) and no graphics, photos, or special formatting. As you add these features to your pages, the E310dw will naturally start slowing down.

During my tests, which of course consisted of more complex documents, the E310dw got just under 10ppm—quite good for a printer this small and inexpensive. As for print quality, overall it was good, with business graphics and photos coming out about like you’d expect from a monochrome printer. Text looked good, too, except for when font sizes got below 8 points, which is somewhat common for hardcopy documents. Mostly, print quality was what you’d expect from a monochrome printer.

The E310dw comes with a 250-page input cassette that slides into the bottom of the chassis. Above that, you’ll find an override tray for printing one-up envelopes or other specialty pages without having to take the printer out of service. Printed pages land on top of the machine, which doubles as a 100-page output tray. (Small enough to keep you hopping on a busy printer, for sure.)

Cost Per Page

A problem with these little low-volume printers is that the per-page usage cost of ink is usually too high, thereby rendering these little guys to occasional-use printers. Here, when you buy the highest yield cartridge (2,600 prints for $69.99), the cost per page comes out to about 2.6 cents, which, if you’re not printing more than a few hundred, say 300-400, pages each month, isn’t bad. Where it begins to hurt is if you print much beyond that. The more you print, the more it costs.

For a detailed explanation of how using the wrong printer (on a CPP basis) can cost you plenty, check out this “When a $150 Printer Can Cost You Thousands” article.

The Dell E310dw makes a decent personal printer, as long as you don’t print too much. If your application calls for laser-class output on a moderate scale, this little Dell can do that.