Tools Of The Trade: Samsung ML3051 laser printer

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With colour inkjet printers available for well under £50, and colour laser printers coming down in price, you could argue that the days of the basic mono are numbered.

But there are sound reasons for buying one of these monochrome printers. They are cheap to run, quick, print crisply on basic photocopier paper and are about a third of the price of a colour model. They also come with computer networking and paper- handling features which are missing from all but the most expensive inkjet models.

Samsung's decision to increase its presence in the European printing market with a new range of inexpensive, business-grade printers has provided welcome competition. The ML3051 is an A4 network laser printer suitable for small offices or workgroups. There is nothing fancy about this printer, but it does all the basics very well.

First impressions suggest that the ML3051 will give years of reliable service in a busy office. As a 1200dpi (dots per inch) resolution printer, its output should be crisp, and it is. This printer is also quick: anyone upgrading will be surprised at how swiftly even quite complex pages come out of the machine.

Two presses of the printer's control panel told it the type of network it would be on, and it was immediately recognised by Macintosh workstations. Setting up the printer to work with Windows took longer, but was hardly onerous.

The machine made short work of everything from simple office documents to complex pages designed using the Postscript standard. Output was sharp and clear and the ML3051 printed on to plain paper, labels and card. It is well designed from an ergonomic point of view.

Only the positioning of the mains power switch, at the rear of the unit, and the slightly small, 250-sheet paper tray caused inconvenience. The printer was slower to start up from the sleep mode than from powering up from the mains but, on the upside, it was very quiet in operation.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5

PROS: fast, easy to set up, good quality

CONS: small paper tray for such a fast printer

COST: around £250 including VAT