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Hands-on Gear Review

Canon ImageCLASS LBP151dw Review

Price:   $170 List | $84.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, fast
Cons:  Poor printing quality
Bottom line:  Very fast considering its price, but few other advantages
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Canon

Our Verdict

The Canon ImageCLASS LBP151dw is a simple, monochrome laser printer that is inexpensive both to purchase and to operate. However, its printing quality is relatively poor. Both the text and graphics that it produced in our testing were some of the worst we observed. Those looking for an inexpensive option can get much better text quality, cheaper operating costs, and an overall better value in the Brother HL-L2340DW.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter


Last Updated:
Tuesday
October 25, 2016

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Criteria for Evaluation


The chart below shows how the Canon ImageCLASS LBP151dw's performance in our testing stacked up against that of the other models we tested.


Below we dive into the details of the ImageCLASS LBP151dw's performance in each of our individual tests.

Text Quality


The ImageCLASS LBP151dw received the low score of 3 in our text quality testing, putting it well behind the top score of 9. This was a surprisingly poor performance for a black and white laser printer, as text is usually their forte. It produced very light characters when printing text documents. It also seemed to get lazy towards the bottom of each line, where there were often some untidy blotches of ink. This Is a significant issue for the ImageCLASS LBP151dw as reliable, high quality text is one of the main reasons to purchase a monochrome laser.

The ImageCLASS often produced faded text in our testing.
The ImageCLASS often produced faded text in our testing.

Operating Cost


The ImageCLASS LBP151dw was towards the front of the pack in our cost testing, scoring a 6 in a metric that saw scores ranging from 2 to 7. This is mostly due to its estimated lifetime cost, which we calculated at $309. This is the lowest such figure that we calculated. It also printed black and white at the reasonable rate of about $0.03 per page or $14.58 per ream of paper. No matter your normal printing volume the ImageCLASS LBP151dw will not break the bank.


Ease of Use


The ImageCLASS LBP151dw ended up in the basement of our ease of use testing, scoring a 4, well behind the top score of 9. This was mostly due to our experiences in connecting it to a wifi network. While USB printing setup was immediate, there were only vague instructions on how to setup wifi printing, and after some frustration we had to resort to a call to the customer service line. While we found Canon's customer service to be excellent, this should not a be a necessity when setting up the printer. The ImageCLASS LBP151dw does not have any sort of screen on the printer itself, just 5 buttons. This means that setting up wifi or troubleshooting anything requires plugging your computer into the printer. While we suggest always having a USB connection handy for when things go awry, this may annoy some users who would prefer to be untethered as much as possible. Overall we found the ImageCLASS LBP151dw to be one of the more disheartening printers to use, but Canon's excellent customer service rescued it from an absolutely terrible score.

Graphics/Photos


In our testing the ImageCLASS LBP151dw displayed poor performance in both graphics and photo printing. The 'image' in ImageCLASS seems to be a misnomer. It shared the bottom score of 2 with two other printers, and was well off from the top score of 7. Simple graphics were very noticeably pixelated and had jagged edges. Photos were similarly pixelated with poor resolution and clarity. If you're planning on printing anything with a lot of graphics and care at all how they look, the ImageCLASS LBP151dw is not the right choice.

The ImageCLASS produced both low resolution graphics and images in our testing.
The ImageCLASS produced both low resolution graphics and images in our testing.

Printing Speed


Unlike text quality, printing speed is an area where the ImageCLASS LBP151dw lives up to its thoroughbred monochrome laser pedigree. It scored an 8, putting it towards the front of the class in a metric that had scores falling between 2 and 9. In the keystone black and white single sided text document test it logged a speed of 22 pages per minute, just 3 pages off from the fastest model. It slowed down to a still respectable 13 pages per minute. It also blew through a full page photograph in just 14 seconds, though a monochrome laser is not a great choice for photo printing.

Value


The ImageCLASS LBP151dw has a list price of $170.GIven its low performance in some key metrics, we would identify this as a very poor value. At the time of this writing the ImageCLASS LBP151dw is available online for nearly half its list price. This price point is low enough that it may be attractive to some people on very tight budget, but the Brother HL-L2340DW still represents a much better value in a very similar price range.

Conclusion


The ImageCLASS LBP151dw is not a terrible choice if you're on a tight budget and don't mind making sacrifices in text quality and ease of use. However, the Best Buy on a Tight Budget Award winning Brother HL-L2340DW offers better performance at a much lower list price, and both a street price and estimated lifetime cost that are just a few dollars more.
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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