Personal laser printers have the advantage of simplicity and small size. If you just need to print correspondence and your main concern is good text print, a small laser like Epson’s Aculaser M1200 can save a lot of money over an inkjet printer of equivalent speed.
Imagine a large bread loaf – a tin loaf with a smoothly domed top – and you’ve got the overall shape of the M1200, though it's twice the size. All in textured black, apart from the fold-up output tray, which is a sort of smoked olive colour, the printer has simple, practical lines.
A 150-sheet input tray folds down from its front and there's no paper cover provided, so you'll probably want to remove and store paper when not actually printing. With the two paper trays open, the printer doesn't look as neat, but it still has a smaller footprint than similar machines with more conventional tray arrangements.
There's no control panel on the printer, just a couple of large LEDs – one yellow, one blue – which indicate paper jams, covers open, power and print data being received. Given the simplicity of what the printer's being asked to do, these two indicators are adequate.
Just in case of a paper jam – though we saw none during testing – there's a hinged cover at the top, over the fuser and another at the front for cartridge access. At the back are sockets for USB and parallel ports, though the printer has no network connection.
Physical setup is straightforward, as the machine uses a two-part drum and toner cartridge, with the toner hopper clipping onto the back of the drum. Supplied as a single component, it slides easily into position behind the front panel cover.
Software installation is nearly as easy and drivers for both Windows and OS X are provided. Most Windows printer software installations are hampered by the auto-detection Windows uses when a new USB device is connected.
Why there can't be more collaboration between Microsoft and printer makers to resolve this confusion for customers is hard to fathom. Most often, as here, you have to cancel the Windows driver setup in favour of that from the printer maker. On other occasions, you have to sit through two sets of file copying, of the same files, because the two setup routines are out of sync.