If you'd told us from the outset that one of this month's winners would be a network-capable, single-pass printer that would top the charts for quality and near the top for speed, we'd have had no trouble believing you. If you'd told us the same printer would retail for just $229, we'd have laughed you out of the room.
While the Dell 1320cn might look uninspiring, our tests revealed it to be nearly infallible. In print quality, for instance, it scored perfectly. Our business graphics printed crisply and evenly, and with white text on red we experienced no background bleeding.
Gradients in bar graphs were smooth and consistent, and solid blocks of colour never appeared to be raised from the page, thanks to the weight of toner used.
Even our photographic test - the kiss of death for so many laser printers - was absolutely fine. Our mono photographic test was equally good.
It also managed our tests against the clock terrifically well.
Over the course of our testing it averaged a fantastic 15.4ppm, trailing only the more expensive Lexmark C540n and Brother 4040CN. It was second in the group when it came to our demanding 24-page DTP document as well: despite a difficult mixture of graphical, photographic and typographical elements, the Dell shrugged off the challenge and turned in a performance of 13ppm.
It's almost enough to earn an unqualified recommendation, but there are a few problems. First is its TCO. With high-capacity colour toner cartridges running to $119 each, and a 20,000 page image drum setting you back $259, the 1320cn is one of the more expensive printers in the long run.
If you expect to print more than a few thousand pages over the life of the printer you should look at cheaper-to-run options, particularly if you're in the market for a single-user machine. It's also worth noting that at 380mm high, it isn't very compact.
However, if you're only going to print occasionally and want to bag a fast, quality printer for just a shade under $230, it's a bargain.