When we looked at the pages we produced, we were also presently surprised by the print quality. Text is very well reproduced with no spatter and very clear letter formation, even at small point sizes. Business graphics are also well printed and different colours are well represented by greyscale dither patterns.
Interestingly, the normal mode resolution of 600dpi produced a better representation of our photographic test piece than the enhanced 1200dpi print. It was obviously more dotty, but the banding apparent on the 1200dpi print was much reduced and shadow detail was marginally better.
Samsung claims a sound output of 54dBA, but we measured it at peaks of 60dBA, which is quite noisy. As is often the case, these peaks occur when paper is fed from the input tray, rather than during printing itself.
Costs are very easy to determine, as the only consumable is the integrated photoconductor and toner cartridge. This comes in two capacities, suitable for 4,000 and 8,000, five percent pages. As usual, the higher capacity cartridge is better value and we’ve used this in determining page cost. The street price of around £95 gives you a cost per page of 1.66p. This sits it in the middle of typical mono laser page costs.
However, the price of a replacement cartridge puts it perilously close to the price of a replacement ML-3050, never a good position for a manufacturer to be in, if it wants to make money from consumables, rather than original printer sales.
It is, of course, more expensive to manufacture a complete printer, which includes a consumable cartridge, than a cartridge alone. While the list price of printer and cartridge may show a good differential, street prices can distort these differences, making it attractive to buy a complete new printing mechanism, rather than a replacement, high-yield cartridge.
This printer also offers upgrade options, such as an extra paper tray and memory to upgrade from the supplied 16MB to a maximum of 272MB, which are not often offered on entry-level printers.
The print speed is impressive and print quality is better than from some machines costing considerably more. While Samsung will have to watch the price of its consumables, which now come close to the cost of the printers themselves, the ML-3050 is very good value for quality mono printing.