Bargain laser printers don’t get much cheaper than this model, but watch the pricey toner–the cost is tolerable only if you print fairly little.
The Samsung ML-2955DW monochrome laser printer is notable for its very low street price ($150 as of February 8, 2012) and its full network connectivity, namely USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the expensive toner restricts it to low-volume use.
It’s the same old story: cheap printer, pricey toner. The ML-2955DW ships with a starter-size toner cartridge with a 1000-page yield. Replacements include a 1500-page cartridge for $63, which works out to 4.2 cents per page–steep compared with the current average of 2.6 cents per page for all the monochrome lasers we’ve tested. The higher-yield cartridge costs $75 and lasts for 2500 pages, or 3 cents per page, versus an average of 1.8 cents per page for other high-yield cartridges we’ve priced. If you take a year or more to get through a cartridge, you probably won’t care. If you have to replace the cartridges several times a year, however, you will definitely start to feel the pinch. For higher-volume use, step up to a model such as the Dell 2350dn, which has reasonably priced consumables.
The ML-2955DW is otherwise a decent printer. Equipped with a 533MHz CPU and 64MB of memory, it printed plain text in our tests at a middling rate of 18.3 pages per minute. It comes with a 250-sheet input tray and a 150-sheet output tray; the latter has a flip-out plastic panel that catches paper or covers the output area. The printer also has a front manual-feed slot, which you can access by pressing on a small front panel. On my test unit, however, the bendy panel required a pretty hard push to open.
The top control panel is spare to a fault. It has power and cancel buttons, plus buttons to enable Wi-Fi Protected Setup and ‘Eco’ mode (explained below). A few indicator lights are present as well, but they suffer from inscrutable icon labels and color/blink patterns that mean nothing unless you consult the documentation.
Samsung tries to make it easier to save paper and toner with its ‘Eco’ mode, which automatically combines duplexing, 2-up printing (fitting two reduced-size pages onto one sheet), and a lighter application of toner. These settings are adequate for drafts and internal reference documents, though the lighter toner means that text might be slightly harder to read. If you delve into the ‘Eco’ tab in the printer driver, you can see estimates of the resources you are conserving with each choice.
The Samsung ML-2955DW is priced to fit the budget of small or home offices–at least initially. The toner costs over time will be dear. If you plan to print more than a few dozen pages per week, move up a hundred dollars or so in purchase price to buy a machine with cheaper consumables.