The $200 (as of 8/4/2006) Samsung ML-2571N offers fast monochrome printing in a relatively compact package, but it has few features that set it apart from the competition. Its main paper tray holds a decent 250 sheets, and the top of its dust cover acts as a tray for the manual feeder, but this can accept only a single sheet or envelope at a time. You can't feed envelopes from the main tray, so printing more than a few can be a laborious process. Up to 100 pages land face up in the output bin. Samsung offers no optional paper trays or a duplexer.
The ML-2571N comes with a starter toner cartridge rated for 1000 pages. Replacement cartridges that yield 3000 pages cost $90, averaging 3 cents per page. There are no other user-serviceable parts, and Samsung sells parts only to dealers and service providers, so you'll need to use such third parties to replace the transfer roller, fuser unit, and pick-up roller after 50,000 pages; this could ultimately raise the per-page cost.
We saw mixed results in our print quality tests. Text looked a little light overall, and the finest characters failed to form completely. Our grayscale print came out too dark and had some banding. On the other hand, our challenging line art sample showed nice distinct lines. In our speed tests, the printer performed respectably, with text appearing slightly faster than average at 17.3 pages per minute and graphics at 7.5 ppm.
Installing the ML-2571N on a network was trickier than we would have liked. The printed color setup poster explains only how to connect the printer to your PC using either the USB or parallel ports. The only other printed documentation, a skimpy black-and-white booklet, refers you to the Network Utilities CD-ROM, where you can find a more complete Network Printer User's Guide. However, this guide applies to a whole range of Samsung printers, including some that need you to install a network card, and others that have LCD displays to help in setup. There are no easy, step-by-step instructions that apply directly to the ML-2571N.
Our biggest hurdle in installing the printer on the PC World Test Center network was assigning an IP address. We prefer having the printer pick this up from our DHCP server, but the documentation implies that you'd first have to set it manually before you can configure the printer to work that way. We chose to install the "setip" (Set IP address) program from the Network Utilities CD-ROM, which detected the printer on the network and let us assign the IP address manually. Then we inserted the Printer Software CD-ROM and installed the three Windows drivers (for GDI-based, PCL, and PostScript printing); at that point, we were ready to print.
Once you get it installed, the Samsung ML-2571N shows itself to be a solidly built printer that's fine for everyday use. However, it does little to distinguish itself in terms of paper handling, speed, or quality.