Review: A laser printer bargain

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With color inkjet printer prices going down and quality going up many consumers may have forgotten about the old industry workhorse — the black-and-white laser printer. Long a fixture in many homes and offices, black-and-white laser printers are still out there and they’re getting better than ever. Best of all, these lasers are available at greatly reduced prices.

InsertArt(1583616)MY FIRST LASER PRINTER was an Apple design that cost somewhere near $1,000 (it was the cheapest one they sold) and it lasted for years. Actually, even though it was noisy and sometimes balked at certain types of paper at certain times, the only reason it was retired was because Apple changed over to USB ports. Its replacement was a USB color inkjet design.

So, I was amazed to find that monochrome laser printers are still alive and well with prices now approaching color ink jet prices.

One such new design is Samsung’s ML-1430. It’s an upright design with a small footprint, capable of producing 600 by 600 dpi documents at 15 pages-per-minute. It also boasts a 12,000 page-per-month duty cycle. The printer is being targeted at busy businesses and home-office environments, libraries and even student dorms — any place where high-quality, black-and-white pages are needed, and needed quickly.

The 1430 measures 13.0 by 13.9 by 9.0 inches and weighs 13.7 pounds — a mere fraction of some of the older laser printers I remember having to lift in previous years. Inside there’s a RISC processor and 8 MB of memory. The Samsung has a Toner Saver Button which helps you squeeze the most out of each toner cartridge. Figure you’ll get between 1,000 (for the starter cartridge) to 2,500 pages (at 5 percent coverage) from each replacement cartridge.

Samsung has created a nearly universal printer for today’s world. The ML-1430 uses a proprietary emulation called SPL (Samsung Printer Language) and can run on Windows (95/98/ME/2000/NT 4.0/XP), Macintosh (OS 8 through 10), and Linux (Caldera Open Linux 2.0 and above, Debian 2.0 and above, Mandrake 7.1 and above, Red Hat 6.2 and above, Slackware 4.0 and above, SuSE 6.4 and above, and Turbo Linux 4.0 and above). It will attach to your computer via a parallel port or USB. Unfortunately, neither cable is included in the box.

The 1430 can handle all sorts of paper stock and sizes, envelopes, labels, transparencies and card stock. It can also provide you with something called the N-up printing mode which enables a user to display up to 16 pages of text on a single sheet or paper, a clever way for previewing large documents and presentations.

SPEED DEMON Enough of what Samsung says it can do; here’s what I saw it really do. This printer is fast. It takes a few seconds to gather the information in its memory then it lets loose with a barrage of your finished document. I’ve dealt with a lot of big, modern laser printers that don’t seem as fast. I’ve also played with a number of similar-sized printers from other manufacturers which don’t even come close to the 1430’s prowess.

Speed is one thing, but quality? The Samsung produces great pages. Print jobs from the 1430 look just as good (to my eyes) as the same documents printed from much larger and expensive machines in my office. That’s a pretty big feat from a laser printer that has a suggested retail price of $199.

I tried the 1430 on Windows ME, 2000 Professional and XP (both versions), Macintosh System 9.0, 9.1 and 9.2, Apple’s OS X, and Red Hat and SuSE Linux computers. In each instance the Samsung delivered as promised. sing this printer was and is a dream.

There’s not much more to say. I wish the 1430 came with a cable, but if Samsung included one you probably would be paying more than $199 for the printer. Speaking of price, check out the Web if you’re interested in this Samsung. I’ve seen prices as low as $182.

The printer has proved itself a solid machine; in the month I’ve been testing I’ve grown to appreciate its abilities. If you need color there are many great inkjets on the market, and the prices of color laser printers have been plummeting, too. If you produce mostly black-and-white documents, letters and reports, the ML-1430 should be near or at the top of your short list.