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Dell printers launch in the USA

PC maker takes first steps into printing market — UK versions to follow soon

As promised Dell has entered the printer market this month, with the launch of four printers in the USA, although UK customers won't be able to buy these own-brand units until late 2003.

The UK launch, which is slated for 1 September, should see around six models launched, as opposed to the four that are shipping in the USA. Dell chose to delay European launch so it could offer the full range from day one. The further two models should launch in the USA in June.

Just like its entry into the PDA market with the Axim, Dell clearly intends to compete on price. UK pricing will be announced at the launch but, if the USA is anything to go by, the printers will be priced to beat rivals HP.

For its A940 4,800x1,200dpi multifunction device it's charging $139 (£88). A similar device from printer giant HP costs as much as $200 (£127).

"Dell's first foray into printers will be accepted as good-enough technology by Dell's many customers. As a result, we would expect Dell to quickly become a material player in the business printer marketplace," said Peter Kastner, from the Aberdeen Group.

In the past Dell has sold HP printers alongside its PCs, but last year announced a partnership with Lexmark.

Dell's printer range covers the whole spectrum of users from home to workgroup, with the low-cost colour inkjet A940 multifunction with scanner, fax and copier facilities kicking off the range. The other three printers are all laser models — the 19ppm 600dpi P1500 straddles home and professional users, while the 22ppm S2500 and S2500n are designed for the office, with the n model supporting networking.

US pricing for the latter three models is as follows: $149 (£95) for the P1500; $499 (£317) for the S2500; and $839 (£532) for the S2500n.

Dell plans to sell its own-brand toner with the printers, and all come with software that automatically detects when toner is running low. Users will see a dialogue box pop up onscreen that will take them directly to a dedicated website that detects what printer they have and offers them the correct replacement cartridges. Alternatively there will be a phone number to call.

Pricing for the toner is promised to be "slightly price advantaged", according to Dell's Robin Dyer.


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