This week, Dell unveiled a major update of its business printers, introducing a total of six new printers, including a number of MFPs (multi-functional printers). Below is a quick round-up of the various printer models that were released:
2355d and 2355dn
The 2355 series is a monochrome laser multi-functional with a built-in color touchscreen. The printer has a rugged duty cycle pegged at 80,000 pages, with both models able to print in duplex. The 2355dn has built-in Ethernet networking to support workgroup printing, and is sold for $599 according to Small Business Computing.
2350d and 2350dn
Designed for more budget-conscious businesses, the 2350d and 2350dn offer good print speed at a lower price of $249 and $299, respectively. The 2350d can be used as a personal printer, while the 2350dn, like the 2355dn, adds networking capability for sharing in a workgroup.
1355cn and 1355cnw
The higher-end 1355cn and 1355cnw are laser multi-functional printers with the ability to print in color. Dell claims that these two models are "virtually maintenance free" and come with a drum and fuser designed to last the lifetime of the printer. The company explained that this also allows the printer to be 40 percent smaller than competing devices from the likes of Hewlett Packard. The starting price for the 1355cnw is $419 (with built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking), while the 1355cn is priced at $379.
What truly caught my attention here is the introduction of a new universal printer driver that is designed to benefit small- and mid-sized businesses. Dell says the Open Print Driver (OPD) will work with any of its printers, while printers that are compliant with PostScript, PCL5 and PCL6 are also supported. The hope here is to reduce the inherent complexity and hassle related to managing the disparate printer drivers across any number of workstations.
Computer printers are one of those peripherals that nobody appreciates when everything works properly. Often purchased by smaller businesses in a piecemeal fashion when the need arises, the result is a veritable smorgasbord of printer brands and models after a period of time. This leads to a net increase in the amount of time needed to setup new workstations; or in SMBs with no full-time IT staffers, a loss in productivity as employees struggle to figure out the correct driver and configuration.
Clearly, Dell hopes to address this issue with its OPD initiative to create a universal printer driver. As reported by InformationWeek, Don Heath, group manager of Dell's imaging and printing group, was quoted as saying:
[The Dell OPD] is an all-in-one single software package with multiple supported printer description languages (PDL) in a small installation file, and has a common user interface for all printer types (single function, multifunction, color, and mono laser printers).
Bill Muscato, global imaging product line manager at Dell, describes how it works:
A single driver helps IT with management of their printer fleet, and it has a nice discovery function where the first time you load it, it finds all the printers on the network.
And yes, the OPD is a free download that you can access from here.
Any comments about the new printers or Dell's OPD initiative? Feel free to post them below.