The printer industry is driven almost entirely by substance, not style. Some designs have tried to associate themselves with famous fashion designers, but no matter how hard manufacturers try, printers almost always end up looking like dustbins. If you're lucky, they'll look like bread bins. Either way, they're not the sort of thing you want to show off.
The Samsung ML-1630 is the first real attempt to make printers look sexy -- and how! It's boxy, sure, but the sleek piano-black finish and gorgeous blue lights make it by far the most attractive printer ever conceived. It's available from £139.
The ML-1630's most obvious strength is that it looks ten times better than any printer that's come before it. The glossy black finish can more typically be found on laptops and televisions, so to see it on a printer is a breath of fresh air. We also have to give Samsung props for using blue LEDs, plus an OLED status screen that's only visible when the printer wants to tell you something.
The ML-1630 has a split-level design. The bottom section houses the main mechanics, while the top acts as a lid and houses the control panel -- if you can call it that. The only buttons are the power button and a function button that you tap to cancel print jobs. Both are touch- sensitive.
A touch-sensitive paper tray eject button would have been nice, but we'll make do with the semi-automatic eject mechanism. This ejects the paper tray when you push a button at the front, making it extremely easy to load. The tray accepts various paper sizes up to A4, and has manually-adjustable guides that grip the media snugly before it's fed through the printing mechanism.
Print speed was as advertised: 17 pages per minute for A4 and 18ppm for 'Letter'. The time taken to print the first page was 15 seconds from sleep, which isn't bad, and the overall print quality was very good. Text was crisp, even as small as 3pt, and it coped well with PDF graphics.
Happily, ML-1630 is virtually silent when not in use and only emits up to 45db of noise while printing. It comes with a 1,000-sheet starter toner cartridge so you can print straight out of the box. Standard cartridges can print up to 2,000 sheets.