One of the big differences between the ML-1915 and this machine is that this one is rated at 24ppm. That's not a draft speed, as this machine has only normal and best print modes, but we couldn't get more than two thirds of this speed out of our review sample.
Our five-page text print took 36 seconds to complete, a speed of 8.3ppm, but this climbed considerably on the 20-page document, to 16ppm. The five-page text and graphics test returned 15ppm. The corresponding speeds for the ML-1915 were 10.3ppm, 13.8ppm and 12ppm so, although this machine is quicker in two of the three tests, it's only by a small margin in each case.
The ML-2580N also prints at 1,200dpi thanks to print enhancement, and the quality of prints we produced was very serviceable. Black text is crisp and well-formed, showing neat, sharp characters right down to small sizes, and greyscale graphics are also good.
Although you can see a dot pattern in these shades, it's very regular, with little striping or blotchiness and a good range of grey shades, which can depict a wide range of different source colours.
The good greyscale reproduction applies to photo images, too, and smoothly varying tones, such as in skies, are also largely devoid of any artefacts. There's some loss of detail in dark areas within an image, but generally the machine is as good as any in the price range at reproducing greys.
There's quite a variation in the prices of the drum and toner cartridges available for the ML-2580N, so it's well worth using price comparators to search out the best value. We found the 1,500-page cartridge for just over £35 and the 2,500-page one for £48. This gives a best-case cost per page of 2.8p, including 0.7p for paper, which is a good figure for a printer at this price point
It may be Samsung's own ML-1915 that is the biggest competitor to the ML-2580N. OK, this machine has Ethernet built-in and a faster print speed, at least on paper. Under test the difference in speed is no more than a couple of pages per minute, though, and the difference in price is over £20.
For some reason best known to itself, Samsung has also decided not to include the page print button of the cheaper machine, choosing instead to provide a function that is of no use to the customer, only to the salesperson.
If you want to share a mono laser printer between a couple of people, you may feel the advantage of having Ethernet built in is worth the extra money, but remember you can still share a machine with a USB connection via any Windows PC. Print quality and speeds are good and in other respects this printer is excellent value.