Dell V715w

The Dell V715w is the company's flagship printer, but its mechanical missteps and quickly depleting cartridges keep us from recommending this device over more capable machines like the Lexmark Prevail Pro705.


6.0
CNET Rating

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The Dell V715w All-in-One Wireless Printer offers the standard array of print, fax, scan and copy features with a useful 50-sheet auto-document feeder and an Eco Mode button that encourages you to cut down on consumables. Out of the box, the V715w shows physical flaws and a bulky design with frustrations that include frequent paper jams, unreliable wireless connectivity and expensive ink cartridges. Placed next to the full-featured Lexmark Prevail Pro705, which flaunts a much easier installation process, top-tier image output quality and a five-year warranty, we see little reason to recommend the Dell V715w.

Design and features

At 488cm wide, 409cm deep and 251cm tall, the Dell V715w will take command of your workspace, so make sure you have room for the device before running out to make a purchase. You likely won't move the V715w once you situate it in your work area. The hefty printer weighs 9.53kg and its capacity tops out at 200 sheets total: 150 in the standard input tray and another 50 sheets in the ADF.

The V715w doesn't feature a typical tiny two-line LCD display. Instead, you get a 2.4-inch colour LCD that lets you preview imported photos from the accompanying computer, and you can also access files through the media card reader and PictBridge USB port on the lower-right side of the machine. Shortcut buttons surround the display on three sides and there's also the standard array of buttons including a directional pad for scrolling through menus and a number pad for dialling numbers on the fax side.

The first problem we have with the V715w's design is the control panel that sticks out of the middle of the unit. Prior to installing the driver, Dell instructed us to position a clear strip of plastic on top of the panel that adds text labels to the Copy, Scan, Fax and Photo buttons. We're unsure why those labels weren't already printed there as on the rest of the buttons, but the extra layer and the cheap plastic finish take away from the otherwise streamlined design.

The flatbed scanner lives just underneath the V715w's auto-document feeder and can handle up to 1200x2400-dpi resolution, another feature we normally see on multifunction devices. However, Dell deserves recognition for including a copy of ABBYY FineReader Sprint on the included driver installation disc that provides basic optical character recognition (OCR) and will do its best to "read" and import the text of a scanned document into a word processor of your choosing, typically Microsoft Word. In our testing, the software was fairly accurate, although we definitely suggest you check for inaccuracies after the scan completes. Additionally, be sure to hold onto the driver installation disc, as ABBYY FineReader Sprint isn't available for download on Dell.com.

We also like that Dell includes an Eco Mode button marked with a green leaf on the right side of the control panel that triggers two-sided printing, copying and faxing using the duplexer on the back. The button dims the LCD if you leave the printer dormant for an extended period, and the printer has an Energy Star certification. We welcome those green-minded touches, but Lexmark goes a step further and in addition to these features saves you money by bundling XL-capacity black and colour cartridges in the box. To our knowledge, Lexmark is the only printer vendor to do this, and we hope that Dell and others will consider adding this incentive in the future.

The V715w uses four individual ink cartridges for black, magenta, cyan and yellow colours. Dell also sells high-capacity ink cartridges on the company's website, but the page yield numbers are no longer listed on the site so we can't accurately calculate the cost per page. We can tell you that the standard cartridge didn't even last long enough for us to finish our quality and speed test, and the customer complaints on our own CNET user reviews and the Amazon purchase page echo our experience.

Like many modern all-in-one printers, the Dell includes an 802.11b/g wireless card that's supposed to help you cut the cord and free-up USB ports that you might otherwise use for connecting to the host computer. The wireless installation disc that comes in the bundle does an adequate job of walking you through the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) using your wireless router's SSID and WPA password, but our connection kept giving us an error message that said "Cannot Print over a Wireless Network", despite the green notification light that supposedly indicates a solid connection.

Performance

The Dell V715w registered average scores in our speed tests in which we compared it with four other printers. That's not to say that it isn't fast enough to keep up with the output of a small to midsize office. In fact, it did fine in the text speed and presentation speed tests, just edging out the Canon Pixma MG6120 for second place behind the quick-printing HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One C310a.

Printer performance (in ppm)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Presentation speed
Photo speed
Colour graphics speed
Text speed
HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One C310a
4.66
1.56
4.22
9.1
Dell V715w
3.65
1.6
3.57
8.26
Canon Pixma MG6120
4.2
0.87
1.02
8.24
Lexmark Prevail Pro705
3.62
1.46
3.35
7.33
Kodak ESP 5
2.21
1.37
2.13
4.39

We weren't quite as impressed by the image quality put out by the Dell. While our full sheet of plain black text looked presentable at first glance, a closer inspection showed several jagged lines at the corners of text in small fonts, specifically in italicised text, and white text on a coloured background became unreadable at less than five points.

Even on the high-quality setting, we wouldn't recommend using this printer for printing PowerPoint presentations or any document to be used in a professional environment. Furthermore, the colour graphics page is marred by an overall faded look with a slightly yellow overcast, significantly departing from the colour palette of the original image.

We can't find many positive things to say about the image quality, and despite several ink head cleanings and calibrations, the image just doesn't come out as sharp or as accurate as we'd expect from an AU$180 printer.

Service and support

Dell backs the V715w with a one-year warranty, but you can pay to upgrade to two or three years of coverage. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7, and Dell's site offers email support and user forums. Dell's website also has product-specific support in the form of online user guides, drivers and software downloads and a troubleshooting tool.

Conclusions

The Dell V715w neglects to deliver extra features beyond the standard print, fax, scan and copy functions, which ultimately ranks it behind competitive devices like the Lexmark Prevail Pro705, which saves money and boosts office productivity with XL-capacity cartridges, interactive Productivity Studio and Imaging software programs, and a useful onscreen toolbar that tracks your print jobs and acts as a troubleshooting aide should you encounter any snags. Since you get all these additional features for the same price, the Lexmark Prevail Pro705 would be our choice over the spotty Dell V715w.

Via CNET.com

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