The 968 is a well-designed machine that’s relatively easy to use: a 2.4in LCD screen can be tilted to the optimum viewing angle, and the various menus and options aren’t as confusing as some of the more obscure systems we’ve come across this month.
Aside from the LCD screen, there’s little else in terms of features to differentiate the Dell from cheaper competition. As with almost every other all-in-one in this group, the 968 includes a card reader but no wireless connection – just USB.
Thankfully, the Dell makes up for this with its quality: the 968 churned out decent results in all of our printing and scanning tests, with normal-quality documents and photograph scanning handled particularly well thanks to the availability of a dedicated photo cartridge. That said, it’s still beaten by the twin Canons.
The only area where the Dell faltered was when copying pictures, with colour copies and photos barely reaching average quality levels. If this forms a crucial part of your plans then think about the Canon Pixma. It’s not quick, either: five copies of our test colour document took four and a half minutes, and copying a single 6 x 4in photo took almost two and a half minutes.
While performance is good aside from the poor copying, the Dell’s economic credentials aren’t as clear-cut. The high initial price is matched by expensive cartridges: a mono refill costs $45, and a colour reservoir costs $41. The costs aren’t prohibitive, but the Canon printers are more sensible economic choices.
While it’s true that the print quality offered by the Dell 968 is reasonable, the rest of the machine is too average to make it worth the higher price – the Canon systems are better buys.
Good, but not good enough: it can’t compete with the winners this month
• Dell: www.s2d6.com
• Price: $279 • Max printing resolution: 4800 x 1200dpi • Fastest quoted print speed: mono, 31ppm;colour,27ppm • Tray capacity: 150 • Scanning optical resolution: 1200 x 4800ppi/48-bit • Maximum scan area (WxD mm): 216 x 297 mm • Copy speed: not stated • Dimensions (WDH mm): 458 x 505 x 270 mm • Noise level: not stated • Manufacturer: Dell • Supplier: Dell • Delivery: free • Warranty: 1yr on site • Running costs|Cost per A4 page (colour): not stated • Running costs|Mono cartrige price: CH883:$45, not stated • Running costs|Colour cartridge price: CH883:$41, not stated