Design & Build
Measuring 33 x 21 x 17 cm and weighing 4 kg, the B1160w is the smallest laser printer we've reviewed yet. Even the Canon i-SENSYS LBP6000 is a few centimetres bigger. Functions are a bit thin on the ground though, as there's no double-sided printing mode, no memory card reader and no sign of the PCL or Postscript print languages. This printer does, however, come with Wi-Fi connectivity, and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. Its 32 MB memory means it can be easily shared between around twenty users.
A super-small printer
The paper feed tray takes 150 sheets, which really isn't bad for a printer this small. It's compatible with plenty of paper types and media formats too, including card, thin paper, thick paper, headed paper, recycled paper, transparencies, labels, envelopes and more.
Open up the hood and you'll find the toner cartridge straight away. It's nice and easy to get to.
The toner cartridge
Note that there's no Draft mode in this printer, which is why the graph below shows "0" in that category. Otherwise, Dell promises print speeds of 20 pages per minute (ppm). We checked this with our own tests and found Dell's figure spot on. That's no match for high-end models like the Brother HL-2240 (25 ppm) or the Epson Aculaser M2300DN (32 ppm). However, it's still a respectable print speed, an it's faster than the Canon i-SENSYS LBP6000 (19 ppm).
Pint quality is good in the Dell B1160w. Lines and fine detail look sharp, with nuances and shading well reproduced. Print quality is better than the Epson Aculaser M2300DN, the Brother HL-2240 or the Canon i-SENSYS LBP6000.
We always test printers in their standard print mode, but there are several extra print modes on offer in the B1160w's settings, including a best-quality mode.
While black is reproduced accurately, the grey shade pushes up the average Delta E to 9.1 (this quantifies colour fidelity and should be as low as possible). But, then again, our colorimeter is designed for measuring that kind of thing, and this "inaccuracy" is much less noticeable to the naked eye. In comparison, we measured the average Delta E at 10.1 in the Samsung SCX-3405W and 12.6 in the Epson Aculaser M2300DN.
Average Delta E 94: 9.1
Power Use & Noise
This printer uses a restrained 2 W on standby and 370 W when printing. That's pretty low for a laser printer.
Noise levels aren't bad either, as we measured 49 dB. That makes the Dell B1160w a quiet printer by our standards.
Cost Per Page
People often wonder why the starter cartridges that come with many printers have less ink than standard, full cartridges. The simple answer is that it's a good way for manufacturers to cut costs and get you buying more consumables. The toner cartridge that ships with the Dell B1160w, for example, has a lifespan of 700 pages compared with 1,500 pages for the standard cartridge. Note too that there's only one cartridge size for this printer—no high-capacity cartridges are available. The cost of printing per page works out at 3.4p, which is higher than with the Dell 5230n.
ISO Lifespan, Standard Cartridge
|Cartridge||Price(from)||ISO Lifespan||Cost per Page|
|Toner (black)||£51||1,500||3.4 p|
- Good print quality
- Very compact
- App for printing directly from a smartphone (Android only)
- Low power use
- Compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux
- Not many functions
- No double-sided mode
- No Dell Mobile Print app for iOS
- Starter toner cartridge has half the lifespan of a standard cartridge
Don't be put off by this printer's overall score—it lost most of its points in the hardware section due to its limited range of functions. The Dell B1160w keeps its promises, delivering great print quality and low running costs in a very compact package. It's ideal for users looking for a black and white laser printer that prints well and doesn't take up too much room.