It’s not often we test an A3 mono laser printer as few companies need the larger size in a black and white print. That might be part of the reason you’ll get little change out of £1,000 for this Epson workgroup machine. Another reason could well be the fast claimed print speeds of 30ppm for A4 and 17ppm for A3 pages. Even so, at first glance, it looks expensive.
Epson claims the EPL-N2550 has a comparable footprint to an A4 laser, but that's only true if you're thinking of a pretty substantial colour A4 laser. This is a big machine, though Epson has tried to mitigate this with an innovative expandable paper tray design.
Pull out either of the paper trays and you can ‘unlock’ them so they telescope out to twice their original size. They then project out from the front of the printer, of course, but you can have one, both or neither expanded, depending on what you're printing. The design of the trays does make them more awkward to slide back into the printer.
Cleverly, if you have one tray set for A3 and the other for A4 paper, the printer will automatically select the right tray when you pick the size of paper to print on from the driver – you don't have to explicitly select a paper tray.
The 16-character LCD display has no backlight, but unusually is easily readable under normal overhead lighting. For buttons below the display control the menus and there's a red, job-cancel button, too. At the back are three sockets for USB 2.0, parallel and 10/100 Ethernet. The EPL-N2550 is fully network-ready as standard.
A single drum and toner cartridge slots in through a hatch in the printer's top surface and may well represent the only kind of maintenance you ever have to apply. Although this cartridge is rated at 15,000, A4 pages, the photoconductor drum is rated at 100,000 pages. Even under fairly heavy use, you may never need a second drum during the lifetime of the printer.
Software installation is straightforward, as long as you remember to install the driver before connecting any cables to the printer. The driver includes all the expected options, though some other defaults such as the options preset for printing photographic images don't do the machine justice.
An interesting feature is a facility to magnify a page image onto a different size of paper. By specifying a zoom level of 141 per cent for example, you can enlarge an A4 print exactly onto A3 paper.