One of the brightest deals on a small-office black-and-white laser printer, the Samsung ML-2250 prints fast enough for one person or a small workgroup, and it matches top-notch text with solid grayscale graphics. Bargain hunters who like the $225 price tag will appreciate the penny-per-page toner replacements--some of the cheapest cartridges we've seen.
Encased in a shiny-white and matte-gray plastic shell, the Samsung ML-2250 covers a 15-by-18-inch swath of your desk--15 by 25 inches with the sturdy auxiliary tray opened. It stands 11 inches high, which is as small as workgroup-capable lasers come. Sturdy handgrips along the bottom edge make it easy to move the printer around the office, and the main 250-sheet tray and the 50-sheet auxiliary feed let you keep letterhead or envelopes on hand. However, the control panel's two status lights and cancel button don't track what's in the trays, so you have to know what's there before you print, or your spreadsheet might end up on a stack of envelopes. For longer print jobs or workgroup printing, you'll need to add a 250-sheet second tray for $149. A rear exit lets stiff or delicate paper pass straight through the printer without going around the bend that leads to the main paper output, and the rear exit has a support to catch finished print jobs so that they won't fall to the floor.
The Samsung ML-2250 has both a parallel and a USB 2.0 port, so sharing the printer in an office demands investing in extras, starting with a $199 Ethernet interface or a $249 Wi-Fi link. The printer comes with 16MB of memory, plenty for one person but a potential bottleneck for a workgroup. Dropping a standard memory module in a slot in the back of the machine will boost the memory up to 144MB. Setting up and running the ML-2250 was a snap in our tests.
Samsung's setup poster covers the basics adequately, and its onscreen PDF manual animates the most common tasks. The idiot-proof driver installation requires little more than inserting Samsung's CD. The ML-2250 hides no unwelcome mechanical surprises: you won't burn your fingers when clearing paper jams or scrape your knuckles when removing the toner cartridge. Unfortunately, Samsung doesn't provide Macintosh drivers for the ML-2250, but Linux users get seven choices.
Samsung pitches the ML-2250's engine at 22 pages per minute (ppm), but CNET Labs' tests tracked text printing at 16.5ppm and grayscale graphics at 14.1ppm. That's slower than similar printers, such as the Lexmark E322n, which rolls out text at 21ppm and includes an Ethernet NIC but costs double the price. We couldn't find anything to criticize about the ML-2250's clean, crisp, and distortion-free letters. Grayscale graphics are also impressive for this laser printer, with fine detail and only slight dottiness on photos, though a few of the lightest and darkest gray shades were missing.
A silver lining laces our only grumble about the ML-2250's packaging. The printer includes a half-size starter cartridge, but its 5,000-page life expectancy won't force you to shop for a refill right away. And we're singing about the cheap toner cost: a full 10,000-page replacement cartridge runs $100, or 1 cent per page.