Laser printer reviews

We tested 12 budget laser printers to see which ones come up best.
 
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  • Updated:30 Aug 2007
 

01 .Introduction

Laser-printers

This article is no longer current.

Our latest reviews of Multifunction printers and Standard printers include inkjets and both colour and mono laser printers.

Test results for 12 budget laser printers priced from $152 to $306

We tested laser printers that print in black and white (monochrome) for:

  • performance
  • ease of use
  • ink consumption
  • print quality — this was assessed by a viewing panel that considered how well the printers could reproduce both text and graphics. 

See our lastest article on multifuction printers.  

Please note: this information was current as of August 2007 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Findings

Home office printing has become so popular that many people are choosing to buy their own laser printer. And, as the price comes down and the quality improves, a laser printer is a good choice for small-scale print runs.

  • Laser printers are a good choice for home printing.
  • The running cost is an important consideration.
  • Most brands offer some information about toner cartridge recycling.

Models tested

  • Brother HL-2040
  • Brother HL-2070N
  • Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000
  • Canon Laser Shot LBP-3200
  • Epson EPL-6200L
  • HP LaserJet 1020
  • HP LaserJet 1022
  • Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W
  • Lexmark E250d
  • Lexmark E120n
  • Samsung ML-2010
  • Samsung ML-2571N
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What to buy

  • HP LaserJet 1022 - $299
  • Brother HL-2040 - $129

The HP LaserJet 1022 scored the highest overall, although it’s one of the most expensive models. If you’re after something more affordable, the Brother HL-2040 scored very well for both performance and ease of use and is one of the cheapest in our test.

What about the rest?

All of the printers in our test rated well and would be a good option. Your choice might depend on the comparative running costs between the models and whether you want a specific feature, such as the option to network the printer.

Results tables

Performance and features table

  Performance Features4
Brand/model (in rank order) Price ($)1 Overall Performance (%)2 Ease of use (%)3 Network Multiple pages Booklets Posters Recycling options Manual feed Watermark Duplex Security slot
HP LaserJet 1022 (Q5912A)
www.hp.com.au
299 80 81 77 16
Brother HL-2040
www.brother.com.au
129 78 77 79 (a) 25
Lexmark E250d
www.lexmark.com.au
306 78 79 75 16 • (b)
HP LaserJet 1020
www.hp.com.au
199 77 77 77 16
Samsung ML-2571N
www.samsung.com.au
296 77 75 81 16
Brother HL-2070N
www.brother.com.au
264 76 75 79 25
Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000
www.canon.com.au
169 75 77 71 16
Canon Laser Shot LBP-3200
www.canon.com.au
209 74 76 69 (a) 9
Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W
www.konicaminolta.com.au
213 74 73 76 (a) 16
Lexmark E120n
www.lexmark.com.au
182 73 72 75 16
Epson EPL-6200L
www.epson.com.au
286 72 69 79 4
Samsung ML-2010
www.samsung.com.au
152 69 66 75 16
 

Specifications table

  Specifications5
Brand/model (in rank order) Connection Weight (kg) Input tray capacity (pages) Dimensions (WxHxL mm) Min system requirements Mac and Linux compatible Vista compatible Warranty (years)
HP LaserJet 1022 (Q5912A)
www.hp.com.au
USB 6 230 370 x 240 x 420 98SE+ 1
Brother HL-2040
www.brother.com.au
P, USB 7 230 370 x 160 x 700 95+ 1
Lexmark E250d
www.lexmark.com.au
P, USB 11.5 250 390 x 300 x 540 98+ 1
HP LaserJet 1020
www.hp.com.au
USB 6 140 370 x 210 x 420 98SE+ 1
Samsung ML-2571N
www.samsung.com.au
E, P, USB 7 240 350 x 280 x 470 98+ 1
Brother HL-2070N
www.brother.com.au
E, P, USB 7 230 370 x 160 x 700 95+ 1
Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000
www.canon.com.au
USB 6.5 150 370 x 250 x 430 98+ Linux 1
Canon Laser Shot LBP-3200
www.canon.com.au
USB 7 200 370 x 340 x 410 98+ Linux 1
Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W
www.konicaminolta.com.au
P USB 7 160 390 x 340 x 410 98+ 1
Lexmark E120n
www.lexmark.com.au
E, USB 7 150 390 x 240 x 420 98SE+ 1
Epson EPL-6200L
www.epson.com.au
P, USB 7 160 370 x 370 x 400 95+ Mac 1
Samsung ML-2010
www.samsung.com.au
USB 6 140 350 x 270 x 470 98SE+ 2
 

Table notes

 (a) Optional network with add-on
(b) Automatic duplex

1 Price paid in April 2007

2 Performance (70% of Overall) rated the print quality, print time, time to turn on, any errors or problems, standby energy consumption and ink consumption.

3 Ease of use (30%) how easy the printer is to use including instructions and help files, default settings, software and hardware installation.

4 Features Network built-in or add-on network connection; Multiple pages the maximum number of pages that can be printed on a single sheet; Booklets whether it prints booklets; Posters whether it prints posters; Recycling options provides information on cartridge recycling; Manual feed allows manual envelopes and letterhead printing; Watermark print option; Duplex for double-sided printing; Security slot for a security cable. See features for more info.

5 Specifications Connection whether it has Ethernet (E), parallel (P) or USB connections to a computer; Weight in kilograms including power cord and toner; Input tray capacity the number of sheets of paper the printer can hold as measured by the tester; Dimensions width, height and depth of the printer with all trays extended; Min system requirements for Windows; Mac and Linux compatible; Vista compatible at time of testing, but drivers may be released later.

In rank order

HP LaserJet 1022

Price: $299
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 370 x 240 x 420
Connections to PC: USB

Good points

  • Equal best print quality score
  • Excellent standby to wake score
  • Best non-printable margins score
  • Equal best standby energy score
  • Equal lightest printer
  • Supplied with USB cable

Bad points

  • USB connection only
  • Equal most expensive (based on price paid)
  • No Vista compatibility to date

Brother HL-2040

Price: $129
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 370 x 160 x 700
Connections to PC: parallel, USB

Good points


  • Equal best ink consumption
    Least expensive (based on price paid)
    Least expensive toner cartridge (based on price paid)
    USB and parallel connections

Bad points

  • Borderline print quality in spreadsheet
    Tricky to replace toner

Lexmark E250d

Price: $306
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 390 x 300x 540
Connections to PC: parallel, USB

Good points

  • Automated duplexing
  • Kensington lock slot
  • Best printing speed
  • Highest measured input capacity paper tray
  • Most amount of paper printed from toner USB and parallel connections
  • Excellent standby to wake score

Bad points

  • Equal most expensive (based on price paid after delivery costs removed)

HP LaserJet 1020

Price: $199
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 370 x 210 x 420
Connections to PC: USB

Good points

  • Equal best print quality score
  • Equal best standby energy score
  • Equal lightest printer
  • Excellent standby to wake score
  • Supplied with USB cable

Bad points

  • USB connection only
  • No Vista compatibility to date
  • Equal slowest printing speed
  • Not Mac or Linux compatible

Samsung ML-2571N

Price: $296
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 350 x 280 x 470
Connections to PC: Ethernet, parallel, USB

Good points

  • Equal best print quality score
  • Best ease of use score
  • USB, parallel and network connections

Bad points

  • No toner recycling options stated

Brother HL-2070N

Price: $264
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 370 x 160 x 700
Connections to PC: Ethernet, parallel, USB

Good points

  • Equal best ink consumption
  • USB, parallel and network connections
  • Least expensive toner cartridge (based on price paid)

Bad points

  • Borderline print quality in Excel sheet
  • Tricky to put toner into printer

Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000

Price: $169
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 370 x 250 x 430
Connections to PC: USB

Good points

  • Equal best standby energy score
  • Excellent score in print quality of spreadsheet
  • Excellent standby to wake score

Bad points

  • No duplex printing
  • No watermarking feature
  • USB connection only
  • Equal slowest printing speed
  • Error occurred when installing the software
  • One paper jam during ink consumption test

Canon Laser Shot LBP-3200

Price: $209
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 370 x 340 x 410
Connections to PC: USB

Good points

  • Excellent standby to wake score

Bad points

  • No duplex printing
  • No watermarking feature
  • USB connection only
  • Feels flimsy and lightweight

Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W

Price: $213
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 390 x 340 x 410
Connections to PC: parallel, USB

Good points

  • Parallel and USB connections

Bad points

  • No manual feed
  • Not Linux or Mac compatible
  • Tricky to replace toner

Lexmark E120n

Price: $182
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 390 x 240 x 420
Connections to PC: Ethernet, USB

Good points

  • USB and network connections
  • Kensington lock slot

Bad points

  • Borderline print quality for desktop publishing

Epson EPL-6200L

Price: $286
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 370 x 370 x 400
Connections to PC: parallel, USB

Good points

  • Parallel and USB connections

Bad points

  • No duplex printing
  • No manual feed
  • Borderline print quality for desktop publishing
  • Four paper jams during ink consumption test
  • Most expensive to print per page
  • Tricky to replace toner

Samsung ML-2010

Price: $152
Dimensions (WxHxD, mm): 350 x 270 x 470
Connections to PC: USB

Good points

  • Equal best ink consumption
  • Equal lightest printer
  • Two year warranty

Bad points

  • No toner recycling options stated
  • USB connection only
  • Out tray for paper does not stack paper properly
  • Pulls in double sheets occasionally

Cost

The upfront cost of a printer isn’t the only consideration when buying a new printer. The running cost is a significant issue. Replacing toner cartridges, drums, fixing units and paper can all add up.

The cost of toner ranged from 2 cents per page for the Brother HL-2040 and Brother HL-2070N to almost 6 cents per page for the Epson EPL-6200L. It may not seem like much of a difference, but it can add up to a considerable amount of money over many toner replacements. By comparison, the last inkjet printers test showed that ink ended up costing between 3 to 22 cents per page.

Our calculations are based on the price of toner cartridges and don’t include paper, energy and replacement parts such as drum units.

We also tested the printing capacity using a new cartridge to print a standard letter. There was a considerable difference between the manufacturer’s claim and the actual print capacity, but it’s not all bad news in this regard. All but one of the printers printed more pages than the manufacturer’s claims, using full capacity toner cartridges.

The Lexmark E250d produced over 50% more than the claimed figure, while the Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000 produced only 95% of its claimed printing capacity. See the Results table for toner cost comparisons.

Quality and speed

All of the tested printers rated well for overall printing quality, although some had difficulty printing graphics accurately.

  • The Brother HL-2040 and the Brother HL-2070N had problems printing the spreadsheet and didn’t print the gradation of shading and pixilation very well.
  • The Epson EPL-6200L and the Lexmark E120n had problems printing graphics; the image was too dark and too grainy respectively.
  • The Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000 had an excellent score for printing the spreadsheet.
  • The HP LaserJet 1020, HP LaserJet 1022 and the Samsung ML-2571N rated equal best for overall print quality.

In terms of speed, we timed the printers from the click of the Print button to the last page dropping into the paper tray. We found that all of the models rated well for printing time. The Lexmark E250d had the fastest printing speed, while the Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000 and the HP LaserJet 1020 had the slowest printing speed.

Features

The Lexmark E250d had the most features, including a network connection, booklet printing, recycling options, manual feed, watermark and duplex options and a slot for a security lock.

Network connection
Useful if you want to connect more than one computer to the printer. It’s often listed as an Ethernet connection. The Brother HL-2070N, Lexmark E120n and Samsung ML-2571N have an inbuilt network connection. The Brother HL-2040, Canon Laser Shot LBP-3200 and Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W have an optional add-on network connection that you must buy separately, but it’s probably cheaper to buy a printer with a built-in network connection. None of the printers in the test have the capability to print via a wireless connection.

Print options
Printing multiple pages on a single sheet of A4 paper is a useful feature. All of the printers could print at least four pages on one sheet of paper. The Brother HL-2040 and the Brother HL-2070N could print up to 25 pages on one sheet — the highest number in the test — while the Epson EPL-6200L could only print a maximum of four pages on one sheet.

Booklets and posters
Can be a useful option. All of the printers can print booklets, except the Brother HL-2040, Brother HL-2070N, Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000, Canon Laser Shot LBP-3200 and the Epson EPL-6200L. Only the Lexmrk E250d, Samsung ML-2010 and Samsung ML-2571N can print posters.

Watermark
Lets you print a light mark or outline on the page. All but the Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000 and the Canon Laser Shot LBP-3200 have this feature.

Duplex
Double-sided printing, or duplexing, saves paper and is a good feature to have in a laser printer which is likely to be printing a lot of text. All of the printers, except both the Canons and the Epson printer have a duplex option. The Lexmark E250d has automatic duplex but others require you to go into the set-up options and then position the paper.

Manual feed
Useful for printing envelopes, letterhead or special paper. All of the tested printers, except the Epson and the Konica Minolta, allow manual print feed.

Security
A security slot on the printer lets you secure it to the computer or the desk with a security cable. Both the Lexmark printers have a security slot.

05.Print costs compared

 

Printer cost tables

  Print cost
Brand/model (in alphabetical order) New toner cartridge ($) Claimed number of pages/cartridge Measured number of printouts Toner cost per page (c)
Brother HL-2040 62.64 2500 3506 1.8
Brother HL-2070N 62.64 2500 3638 1.7
Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000 78.3 2500 2373 3.3
Canon Laser Shot LBP-3200 90.3 2500 3235 2.8
Epson EPL-6200L 184.8 3000 3306 5.6
HP LaserJet 1020 92.09 2000 2622 3.5
HP LaserJet 1022 (Q5912A) 92.09 2000 2514 3.7
Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W 99 3000 3600 2.8
Lexmark E120n 109 2000 2545 4.3
Lexmark E250d 149 3500 5410 2.8
Samsung ML-2010 98.21 3000 4065 2.4
Samsung ML-2571N 98.21 3000 3876 2.5
 

Table notes

The price per page was calculated by dividing price of the cartridge by the number of standard pages the cartridge printed.

We ignored early warnings that the toner cartridge may be running low.

At this point, we removed the toner cartridge, shook it, replaced it and continued printing until it ran out or the pages became streaky.

Our costings are based on the price paid for a new toner cartridge in April 2007.

Green scene

All of the printers, except Samsung, include recycling documentation with the toner cartridges or on the manufacturers’ websites. In addition, Brother, HP, Lexmark, Konica Minolta and Canon are affiliated with the Planet Ark cartridge recycling program.

For more on recycling, go to www.recyclingnearyou.com.au.

The Canon Laser Shot LBP-3000 and both the HP printers had the best standby energy scores and cost less than $4 a year on standby. The Epson is the most expensive to keep on standby and costs just over $9 a year.

However, none of the printers achieved a one watt standby power rating, which is a target set by the International Energy Agency. Australia has agreed to support the One-Watt program in order to reduce standby power usage in the future. A printer is on standby when it’s turned on, but not actively printing.