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Dell Goes Color

Dell expanded its printer business today with the introduction of three stand-alone color laser printers.

The units, priced at $449 to $999, are targeted at customer ranging from the power home user to large corporations, but Dell is not limiting itself to the business segment. The growing popularity of monochrome laser printers among general consumers could develop into a market for Dell’s color lasers sometime down the road.

The strategy behind rolling out just three SKUs is to make the category manageable and to give the customer the best possible printer at the lowest price. Instead of having a separate unit for different features, like networking ability, Dell packs all the features we can into just a few models, said Tony Mara, Dell’s senior manager for printers.

The 300CN is the entry-level model. It features print speeds of 25 pages per minute (ppm) in black and 5ppm for color printing. It has a 150-sheet paper tray, and like the other printers is network-enabled. The midpriced $549 3100CN adds UNIX, Linux, Mac and Novell compatibility. The top-end 5100CN ups the print speeds to 35ppm for black and 25ppm color and 600-sheet paper tray.

“We want to be fairly aggressive with pricing, but what we really want is to be lowers in total cost of printing. We don’t want to charge less for cost of acquisition and then charge them more in another area,” Mara said.

The color laser models are integrated into Dell’s Toner Management System, which prompts the user to order toner. It also regulates toner usage to get the most out of each cartridge. Mara said this includes totally shutting off the color part of the cartridge when printing in black because sometimes the printer will think even black text has a little color in it and waste some of the toner.