Epson claims the Aculaser M1200 can print a nippy 20 pages per minute, so we were a bit sceptical, given this is an entry-level device. Our five-page black text print managed just 9.68ppm, so indicating we may be right, but when we ran the longer, 20-page test, it completed in 1:16 for a speed of 15.79ppm, which is a more impressive result. OK it's not 20ppm, but even 16ppm is pretty good for this class of machine. Subjectively, you certainly don't feel as if you're hanging about long.
Our five-page text and graphics print took just 26 seconds, five seconds less than the text document, since only one page-image has to be rasterised. A 15 x 10cm photo print on A4 took 13 seconds, which is also a very respectable speed.
The quality of prints is very good. Although it's native resolution is just 600dpi, there was no sign of jagged edges to curves or diagonals and no noticeable spatter of toner in places it shouldn't be.
Greyscales are a little uneven, though there are enough different tones to render a wide range of colours in their greyscale equivalents. This also means that our test photo showed up pretty well. Although dither patterns are obvious, the printer still managed to render reasonable detail in both full-light and shadowed parts of the image.
Epson inkjets have a reputation for making a lot of noise when printing, but their laser printers are quieter and the quoted noise level of 54dBA is not far off the mark, making this a reasonably comfortable machine to have working on the desk beside you.
There are two costs to consider in running the Aculaser M1200: toner and photoconductor. Toner cartridges come in two capacities and in regular and Return Programme versions. Return Programme cartridges are significantly cheaper and you can feel smug that you're doing something for the environment, too.
Using the high yield, 3,200 page toner cartridge and the photoconductor drum, which is specified at 20,000 pages, gives a cost per page of 2.97p, including 0.7p for paper. This is a little bit high, with machines like the £60 Samsung ML1915 coming in at 2.86p, but is still reasonable for its class.
The Aculaser M1200 is a good, simple mono laser printer, which prints smartly in both the speed and quality senses of the word. Given its very low price, it's hard to find much to hold against it. Probably the only noticeable glitch is the lack of a cover for its paper input tray. Even this won't be a problem, though, if you're happy to stow the paper between prints.