Laser printer reviews

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

04.About the test

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.

 

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