capsule review

Samsung ML-3051ND

At a Glance
  • Samsung ML-3051ND Laser Printer (30 PPM, 1200x1200 DPI, 64MB, PC/Mac)

    PCWorld Rating

    Networked laser is a solid performer that offers good paper handling and a built-in duplexer.

The Samsung ML-3051ND should easily satisfy the printing needs of a small office with several busy users. It handles paper well and produces fine quality text and images at high speeds. However, at $299 (as of 8/4/2006), it's pricier than the similarly configured Brother HL-5250DN, which in the past has received our Best Buy award.

A paper drawer at the base of the ML-3051ND holds up to 250 sheets. A multipurpose tray folds down from the front to accommodate an extra 50 sheets, or a short stack of 5 envelopes (which you can't feed from the main paper tray). You can add a single optional 250-sheet paper tray for $149, increasing the paper capacity to a 550-sheet maximum. The top output bin holds 150 sheets, but you can also pull open a rear exit to let single sheets of thicker media emerge without creasing or bending. The built-in duplexer avoids hassles by printing double-sided documents without user intervention.

The ML-3051ND's control panel features eight buttons for configuring the printer and an LCD that shows two lines of text. Both came in handy when we had to assign an IP address while connecting the printer to the PC World Test Center network. Once the printer was installed on the network, we found it easy to use the comprehensive features of its embedded Web server to administer the printer. The ML-3051ND comes with Windows drivers for GDI, PCL, and PostScript.

Toner cartridges for the ML-3051ND come in two capacities, rated for 4000 and 8000 pages. The 4000-page cartridge comes in the box with the printer. The 8000-page cartridge, which lets you achieve a low cost of 1.6 cents per page, sells for $130. There are no other user-serviceable parts, and Samsung sells parts only to dealers and service providers; you'll need to use such third parties to replace the transfer roller, fuser unit, and pickup roller (at relatively long intervals of 70,000, 80,000, and 150,000 pages, respectively). Over time, this would likely push up the per-page cost.

Our panel of judges was highly impressed by the quality of the ML-3051ND's printing. Text pages looked a little light, lacking some impact, but contained beautifully formed characters. Line art showed nicely distinct lines with just a touch of graininess and only faint waves in closely spaced blocks of parallel lines. Our grayscale image had fine detail and smooth tonal transitions, marred only by some thin horizontal bands and moiré patterns.

The printer also performed well in our speed tests. It churned out text at 20.1 pages per minute, which almost matches our currently top-rated small office laser, the Brother HL-5250DN, and several much more expensive printers. At 8.8 ppm, its graphics speed was good, but slower than the Brother HL-5250DN's 9.6 ppm, and more in line with the other small-office lasers we've tested recently.

The Samsung ML-3051ND offers fast, quality printing with a built-in duplexer, which should appeal to many small offices.

Paul Jasper

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Networked laser is a solid performer that offers good paper handling and a built-in duplexer.

    Pros

    • Produces excellent quality output
    • Competitive print speeds

    Cons

    • No user-servicable parts
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