Dell Photo All-In-One Printer 942

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Dell Photo All-In-One Printer 942

Pros

  • Cheap, efficient button setup, great colour scanning

Cons

  • Low print quality, lacks high-level flash memory support

Bottom Line

The Dell 942 is a good buy because it's cheap, easy to use and produces high-quality scans, but its print quality is lacklustre.

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The Dell Photo All-In-One Printer 942 has the same small footprint as the cheaper Dell 922 model. But it also has an attractive 2.5" colour LCD for viewing menus, previewing images and performing simple edits (such as cropping). And while printing, the 942 also provides a graphical display of the ink levels.

Dell includes two flash media slots that read all the major formats (except, strangely, xD-Picture Cards larger than 512MB). The user can choose the images they want to print by browsing them on the LCD--no need to go to the PC. The 942's index prints are basic grids of images, unlike the attractive layouts from Canon, Epson and HP models that can be used to produce full prints. Thanks to its fast USB 2.0 connection, the 942 quickly uploads images to a PC from a memory card. A PictBridge port allows printing directly from any compatible digital camera.

Although the buttons on the control panel look cheap, they're quite efficient to use. There's a mode button to switch between photo, fax, copy and scan tasks, indicated by a set of four LEDs. The 942 doesn't have a built-in fax, but the user can send scanned documents via their PC's fax modem.

With the optional photo cartridge installed, the 942 produced attractive photos on glossy paper during our tests; however, the prints looked highly saturated and less sharp than those from many other MFPs we tested. On plain paper, dithering was visible in photos, and colours--especially skin tones--didn't look realistic. Our text and line art prints looked nice and dark, thanks in part to the pigment black ink. But prints showed excessive narrow horizontal banding, and lettering looked smudged. Text printed at an admirable 7.5 pages per minute, and our test photo printout was complete in 97 seconds, much faster than the average speed of similar MFDs. Colour graphics printed at a below-average 1.4ppm, however.

The 942's colour scanning was particularly impressive, reproducing tones faithfully, and extracting plenty of detail. The unit's scan speed was average, but its copy speed of 3.6ppm was significantly better than average.

Dell based the 942's software driver on Lexmark's well-designed All-In-One Center, revealing this MFP's origins. The large package of software includes the ABBYY FineReader 5.0 Sprint Plus OCR application for converting scanned documents into editable text. Unfortunately, Dell supplies Jasc's Paint Shop Pro image editor only as a trial version.

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