Samsung ML review: Samsung ML

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MSRP: $300.00
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Outstanding paper handling; great-looking text output.

The Bad Average speeds; installation guide lacks USB instructions.

The Bottom Line The ML-1450 serves up impressive text quality and excellent paper capacity for a price that's sure to please offices on a budget.

8.0 Overall

Don't be fooled by its price tag. The Samsung ML-1450 costs about the same as a personal laser printer, but it's designed for office use. With outstanding paper-handling and network-support capabilities, the ML-1450 has what it takes to keep a small network buzzing. But unfortunately, its print speeds lag behind those of competing models from Brother and Lexmark. Don't be fooled by its price tag. The Samsung ML-1450 costs about the same as a personal laser printer, but it's designed for office use. With outstanding paper-handling and network-support capabilities, the ML-1450 has what it takes to keep a small network buzzing. But unfortunately, its print speeds lag behind those of competing models from Brother and Lexmark.

Boxed in
Like a pair of sensible shoes, what the $299 ML-1450 lacks in style it makes up for in usefulness. Its case is boxy but simply designed, and its size is fairly compact at 14.3 inches wide by 16.1 inches deep by 11.6 inches high. Four lights (Error, Manual, Paper, and Data) and three buttons (Cancel/Reprint, Demo, and Toner Save) on the front of the printer allow minimal printer management. However, its ample 550-sheet paper input tray is the crowning touch; it's actually a little hard to find a network printer that takes an entire ream of paper. By comparison, the $300 Lexmark E320 supports only 150 sheets in its main feeder. If you need even more capacity, you can buy an optional 550-sheet tray ($199) that stacks underneath the main slot. The included multipurpose tray handles up to 100 pages, 10 envelopes, 20 transparencies, or 25 labels, bringing your capacity up to a whopping 1,200 sheets. The ML-1450 sports both USB and parallel ports (cables not included), and you can also purchase an optional $179 Ethernet 10/100 BaseTx network adapter.

Setting up the printer was fairly brainless. The QuickStart Guide walks you through the basics, but you'll have to refer to the user guide on the CD-ROM for USB instructions. The online directions were clear and easy to follow, but they'd have been more accessible if they were in the QuickStart Guide. The ML-1450 supports Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, NT 4.0, and XP; Linux; and Macintosh OS 8.6 and higher.

Driver design
The drivers for the ML-1450 are quite complete. In addition to the basic features, you can print documents in reverse order and up to 16 pages of text on a single sheet; the printer can also handle watermarks, overlays, and posters. A manual duplex feature lets you choose the orientation of your pages, and each print tab includes a Default button, which restores the factory settings on that tab. Unfortunately, there is no universal Default button, so if you make changes on several tabs, you'll need to go back and click each Default button to wipe the slate clean.

Adequate speeds
The Samsung ML-1450's engine is rated at 15 pages per minute (ppm), but its actual tested speeds, while adequate, were a little slower than the competition's. In CNET Labs' tests, the ML-1450 clocked 10.3ppm of text, which was a fair amount slower than the similarly priced Brother HL-1440's 11.4ppm and the Lexmark E320's 12.1ppm. For combined text and graphics, speeds came in at 9.5ppm for the Samsung, which again was slower than the Brother's 9.6ppm and the Lexmark's impressive 11.4ppm.

At least the ML-1450's output is well worth the wait. Text looked excellent, with dark and supersharp letters. The darkness carried over into graphics images, but we noticed some loss of detail in photographs and slight splotchiness in the shaded areas of our test document.

Enough to get started
The printer's consumables cost is pretty good compared to that of the competition. The ML-1450 comes with a 3,000-page starter cartridge. When you burn through that, you can buy a 6,000-page toner cartridge for $100, or about 1.7 cents per page, according to Samsung. For those concerned about long-term costs, the ML-1450 features a toner-save button, which Samsung says can reduce your toner consumption by up to 40 percent.

The ML-1450 comes with a one-year warranty, typical for the industry. Free (and toll-free) phone support is available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m to 6 p.m. PT, even for products that are no longer under warranty. The company Web site offers drivers, manuals, FAQs, and e-mail support.

The Samsung ML-1450 ably bridges the gap between a personal and a small-office laser--and it's affordable, to boot. Its 1,200-sheet input capacity (including the optional paper tray) makes it one of the more expandable models we've seen in the sub-$300 printer category. Its text quality is superb, and while its speeds may lag behind those of its competitors, they're probably fast enough to withstand the needs of most small networks.

Laser printer speed
Pages per minute; longer bars indicate better performance
Text   
Text/graphics   
Brother HL-1440
11.4 
9.6 
HP LaserJet 1200
10.5 
8.3 
Lexmark E320
12.1 
11.4 
Samsung ML-1450
10.3 
9.5 
 
Laser printer quality
•Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer Text Graphics
 Brother HL-1440 •••• ••••
 HP LaserJet 1200 •••• ••••
 Lexmark E320 ••• •••
 Samsung ML-1450 •••• •••
 
When it comes to speed, the Samsung ML-1450 lags behind competing models from Brother and Lexmark. But it does offer impressive paper handling and excellent text output.

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