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9/10

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Canon i-SENSYS LBP3100 Mono Laser

The idea of the one-per-desk mono laser printer goes back a good 15 years and in that time they've got smaller, faster, better quality and considerably cheaper. The latest generation from Canon includes the i-SENSYS LBP3100, which is a neat, ice-white unit, about the size of two large white loaves set side-by-side. Thankfully, the printer is a lot smarter than two loaves, but also less suitable for making Marmite toast.

Canon has worked hard to make it easy to use and neat to fold away. Its high-gloss lid folds up and forward and becomes the output tray, while the front panel folds down to become the input tray. This can take up to 150 sheets of plain paper and there's a separate, single-sheet multi-purpose slot for media up to 163gsm.

When you open the paper tray, a cleverly-designed, hinged cover folds down from behind to protect loaded paper for those who prefer to leave the printer set up for printing. Other manufacturers have supplied covers for their pull-down paper trays, of course, but building it into the machine, so you don't risk losing the cover, is an ingenious piece of lateral thinking.

There's a single green power and print LED and a small resume button set into its left-hand side and, apart from a power button set into the front panel, these are the only controls on the printer. High up on the back panel is a small fold-out cover, which reveals a single USB socket. Once connected, closing the cover hides the cable plug, but this would be more discreet if the cable plugged in at the bottom, so it didn't drape across the desk.

Software installation is dead simple, as Canon supplies a printer driver and little else. This includes support for collation and multiple pages per sheet, but not watermarks or overlays.

Hardware installation is only a little more difficult, as you simply lift the top hatch and slot in the cartridge. There's very little priming and the LBP3100 is then ready to print.

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