When you think of printers, the brand "Samsung" may not be the first one to come to mind. But given the fact that the company's entry-level Samsung Printer Xpress M2020W Wi-Fi-enabled laser printer can be had for little more than the price of some ink cartridges, the likes of HP, Canon, Epson, and Brother might want to be looking over their shoulders.
The Samsung SL-M2020W monolaser printer works best for users with simple printing needs. This black-and-white printer is in it for economics and productivity, not creative performance or a cutting-edge design. That said, the Samsung SL-M2020W is a lot easier to set up than many competing printers, and it's got an impressive list of features, including Wi-Fi connectivity and the ability to print from iOS and Android mobile devices (including NFC compatibility for the latter).
The best feature, however, is the price. The SL-M2020W can be found online for as little as $65 in the US or AU$79 in Australia. (In the UK, the A4-friendly SL-M2022W version is available online for around £59.) That's 35 percent less than some of the best competing monolasers from HP and Brother.
Better than basic in a small package
The printer itself is really compact and works well in tight spaces like the corner of a desk or an office. The dimensions are 8.5 inches by 13.1 inches and it's only 7 inches tall (that's 21.5 x 33.2 x 17.8 cm), so it's bookshelf-friendly. The power cable that's included with the printer is fairly long, so you also have the option to keep it on the ground, away from view.
That might be a good idea, because this is not a printer that spent a lot of time in the design lab -- this little guy looks exactly like what people picture in their heads when they hear the word "printer."
You can connect a computer, tablet, or smartphone to the printer using either the provided USB cable, through a wireless connection partnered with a Wi-Fi router, or by tapping an NFC-enabled Android phone to the top panel for mobile printing. Don't worry, iOS owners; the SL-M2020W is AirPrint-enabled, too, so you can print from your iPhone or iPad over Wi-Fi. The printer is also CloudPrint compatible, meaning that it can print from any device running a version of Google's Chrome Web browser. (Each window has a small print button on the toolbar that combs your network for a device that will accept a Cloud Print connection.) And just to cover all of the mobile bases further, Samsung offers its own MobilePrint app on Android and iOS, too.
The desktop software you'll need to access the driver settings on Windows, Mac, and Linux machines is on the disc included in the packaging and available online if your computer doesn't have an optical disc drive. The software automatically installs an Easy Printer Manager to control settings and make custom profiles for different kinds of prints. You'll also notice the ability for IT professionals to monitor the printer using the manager as well. Finally, there's a big manual to guide you through the setup, but I suspect you won't need them as the installation process is very straightforward.
Connecting a printer to a wireless network can be a difficult handshake to establish, but the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button on top of the printer really helps the process move along. If you have one on your router too, you can just hit both in succession and they'll do the rest of the heavy lifting.
Whichever method you use, automatic or manual, the printer can handle multiple connections from various sources with ease, and the software has a helpful job queue that shows your outbound prints.
The 150-sheet input tray provides the paper and can handle a variety of media types including all the standard sizes, card stock, recycled, labels, envelopes, and more. Its 150-sheet capacity is average for this price, though may find yourself refilling the stock fairly often if you have more than three people printing to the device at any given time. Additionally, I'm not surprised at the lack of a bypass tray at this price as well, so just stick with the paper types listed and you'll be fine.
If you're feeling especially green, you can set the option to print on both sides of the paper, though you'll need to feed it manually as the small size precludes an autoduplexer.
Samsung tops the speed of this printer at 21 pages per minute, which runs in line with our lab tests printing text documents. The quality of the toner cartridge also meets Samsung's positive standards, although expect to see some degradation in print quality if you select the economy printing option. I recommend the highest quality setting for presentation handouts, resumes, and important files, but the eco-print option is completely acceptable for most emails and other kinds of text pages.
Of course, you'll need to also keep in mind that the money pit for any printer is usually the consumables, and in this case it's obviously the laser toner. The printer uses Samsung model MLT-D111s black toner and each cartridge can print approximately 1,000 pages, but here's the red flag: the cartridge will cost you almost as much the printer itself ($50 USD, AU$69, or a somewhat less out-of-scale £35).
At the same time, Samsung also bundles plenty of eco-friendly features into the printer that should keep the toner police away for a little longer: the driver features an Eco Drive setting that engages to save 20 percent of toner with the option to skip blank pages, remove photos, and print multiple pages on a single sheet of paper.
Don't forget that this is a monochrome printer, so we're talking black ink documents only -- that is email messages, driving directions, boarding passes, movie tickets, and so on. If the plan is print out full-color photos, then forgo the laser section altogether and check out the inkjets -- colors are separated into individual cartridges and are therefore equipped to display more detail in your prints. Around here, we like the Canon Pixma MG6220 and its Pixma MG linemates.
In the laser realm, the closest Wi-Fi alternatives in this ultrabudget range are the HP P1102W and Brother HL-2270DW . Both are more expensive -- around $99, or £82 or AU$95 for the HP, and £186 for the Brother, which is not available in Australia. The Brother adds duplex (dual-sided) printing, but at the expense of a larger footprint and considerably fewer features (no AirPrint, CloudPrint, or NFC).
In other words, the Samsung remains a compelling deal, all around.
If you don't need color output or extra scanning and copying features of larger and pricier all-in-ones, the Samsung SL-M2020W delivers a capable laser printer in a compact package with an impressive roster of advanced features for an unbeatably low price.