Dell's E525w Color Multifunction Printer

Laser-quality color prints from an inexpensive Dell MFP

Dell's entry-level E525w multifunction laser printer.

 Dell

Pros:

  • Good Print Quality
  • Easy set up; easy to use
  • Low initial purchase price
  • Durable, sturdy build construction

Cons:

  • No auto-duplexing (automatic two-sided) printing
  • No auto-duplexing (automatic two-sided) scanning
  • A bit slow, compared to competition
  • High cost per page, or CPP, especially color pages

Bottom Line: 

Inexpensive to buy, and it's built like a tank, this color-laser-class (LED-based) prints well, but it's per-page high cost of toner relegates it to a low-volume machine.

In all the years I’ve been reviewing printers, Dell’s entry-level and midrange color laser machines look much like they did several years ago. Take the 2010 Dell 1355cnw, for example. Aside from some minor physical size differences, you can’t really tell it from the model we’re talking about here today, Dell’s $329.99 E525w Color Multifunction Printer. (To be truthful, we thought the design was somewhat archaic-looking five years ago.)

Nope. Not much about Dell’s latest round of laser-class machines helps you tell them from previous versions, but then most of us don’t buy printers based on how modern or stylish they look. (Although that does tend to have a sizable influence when folks are shopping for office appliances at the local electronics store.) Smart shoppers, though, buy printers based on what they do, and how well they do it—or at least they should…

Overall, this is a great little printer, and well worth the discounted price of $249.99 (for a difference of $80) on Dell’s site at the time we wrote this. It is, however, a low-volume printer, so the cost per page, or CPP, is high, but that’s pretty much expected when you buy an entry-level laser-class printer these days.

Design and Features

At 16.1 inches across and 15.7 inches from front to back, the E525w’s footprint is almost square, and a small square at that, for a color laser printer, anyway. Even so, for as small as it is, it weighs a humongous 36.2 pounds, suggesting some very sturdy innards. In fact, from what I could see, the E525w’s insides consisted of plenty of reinforcing metal.

Unlike competing models, such as HP’s LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw, with their fancy digital color touch screens, the E525w’s control panel consists primarily of analog buttons. Aside from looking a little long-in-the-tooth, it’s well-organized and easy-to-use, though.

In addition, Wi-Fi comes standard (which is not a given on entry-level and midrange laser printers), as does Ethernet and the ability to connect to a single PC via a USB printer cable. Mobile connectivity is available via Apple’s AirPrint, Google’s Cloud Print, and Wi-Fi Direct. NFC (near-field communication), on the other hand, is not supported. (For a description of the latest mobile printing features, check out this About.com “Printing from Your Mobile Device” article.)

Finally, we should mention that the E525w also emulates two popular printer languages, or more precisely, page description languages, or PDLs: HP’s PCL and Adobe’s PostScript. If your application (usually desktop publishing) requires either, We're sure that you know it, and why

Performance, Paper Handling, and Output Quality

Dell rates the E525 at 18 pages per minute (ppm), both black-and-white and color. Except for when we printed extremely high-resolution scans and images, for the most part, our informal tests supported that figure, give or take a page or two here and there. Speedwise, it was more than adequate.

As for paper handling, everything about this printer says low-volume—right down to its middling 15-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), its 150-sheet input drawer, and its 100-page output tray. In addition, it has only one input source, which can be limiting.

As to print quality, just as it was five years ago when we reviewed the 1355cnw, our favorite feature, or aspect, of the W525e, is its print quality. That it prints so well takes a lot of the sting out of the too-high per-page print costs.

Cost Per Page

Our least favorite aspect of the W525e is its cost per page. Dell’s highest-yield toner cartridges for the E525w delivers CPPs of 3.3 cents for monochrome pages and a whopping 17.4 cents for color. The black-and-white CPP, if you’re printing only a couple hundred pages or so each month, is livable, but the color CPP is, well, frankly, pretty darn high. If you plan to print a lot it can be very expensive—if you use the wrong printer.

The End

If you can pick up the E525w up for its current (mid-June 2015) price of about $250, it’s a much better value than at $330. The bottom line is that this is a good low-volume color laser printer, but don’t even think about it if you plan on printing more than a couple of hundred pages each month. Otherwise, despite, again, looking a little low-tech, it’s a fine little color laser printer.