Samsung SL-M2020W review: A mini laser printer at an unbeatable price

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MSRP: $185.99

The Good The Samsung SL-M2020W printer is small, relatively fast, and bristling with features, including Wi-Fi, NFC compatibility, and the ability to print from iOS and Android mobile devices.

The Bad Replacement toner cartridges cost almost as much as the printer itself.

The Bottom Line The Samsung SL-M2020W is the best laser printer you can buy in the ultrabudget price range.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 8

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET