I bought my Samsung ML-1430 when I lived in Oregon about six years ago. I bought it for about $150 at Office Max, and it served me very well. It died about four months ago when it suffered a paper jam. When I went looking for a replacement, I knew I wanted another Samsung. I also knew I wanted a laser (especially after the bullshit I’ve gone through with my Brother inkjet). I also wanted a printer that could be run over a home network and had duplex printing. I didn’t want color, and I didn’t care (too much) about print speed.
I picked up the Samsung ML-2851 ND $115 shipped on eBay. How would it stack up against my trusty 1430?
Long story short: it’s fantastic. Network installation was easy, I plugged the printer directly into my switch. Drivers were installed automatically when I added the network printer via the Windows XP SP3 add printer wizard. Print speed is much faster than the already-fast-enough-for-me 1430. Duplex printing is kind of a pain in the ass to do, but still simple.
Here’s your default print dialog box in WinXP. You have to click the Properties button to access the duplex printing option.
The duplex options aren’t very well highlighted. While the user interface does a good job of avoiding technical language by saying “Double-sided Printing,” it drops the ball with the whole “Long Edge” and “Short Edge” terminology. PC LOAD LETTER, what the fuck does that mean? For the record, “Long Edge” is what you want.
The printer is controlled via an installed program called the Smart Panel. Yes, it sucks to have yet ANOTHER mini-application installed on your computer. The Smart Panel allows you to access all of the printer settings via a Web interface. Which begs the question, why can’t you just access the printer’s tiny Web server directly and bypass Smart Panel altogether? You can type in your printer’s IP address and get to the interface. Perhaps the Smart Panel is necessary for the initial configuration.
You can adjust all sorts of cool shit through the Web interface. The basics are all covered, like printer name, DHCP or static IP addressing, and monitor toner levels. But you can also do nifty things like enable IP filtering and email alerts about toner levels and machine problems.
The printer comes with 32MB of onboard memory, expandable up to 96MB. I bought a cheap SO-DIMM laptop memory module off of eBay for $10. More memory means faster printing, and for $10, why not?
My only reservation with the printer is that I may not be able to use aftermarket toner. Official toner carts go for about $125 online. I bought a bunch of toner online for my ML-1420 and was able to reuse the cartridge once. I am not sure if there is a built-in security “feature” on the 2851 that would detect a toner refill. I am guessing not, but again after my horrible inkjet experience I don’t put anything past printer manufacturers.
The Samsung ML-2851 has been great so far. The printer typically sells for $200 – $250 online. If you buy it on sale or via eBay it’s an even greater bargain.