Even though the price range of these printers is in a fairly narrow band, there's a wide range of feature sets and performance within the group. You'll know the kind of features you want from your printer, but things like two-sided printing and extra paper trays and letterheads are typical options.
At the lower end, machines like the Samsung ML-1750 and the Canon LBP3200 are aimed at the one-per-desk, personal printer market, where style is as important as function. Both machines look good and both can do a reasonable job at printing text and graphics. Neither of the printers, though, has much in the way of expansion and the Canon in particular is expensive to run â€“ the only machine to break the Â£1,000 barrier in our TCO calculation.
OKI and Lexmark each attracted pros and cons to their entrants. OKIâ€™s running costs were comparatively good and it printed quickly, but its feature set was undistinguished and the 2,500 page toner cartridge needs frequent replacement. Lexmark, another longstanding champion of the laser printer, produced a unit with a long warm-up time, medium to high running costs and a propensity to paper jams on duplex printing. In its favour, print quality is better than average and in its all-black livery, it looks good.
HP used to be the king of laser printers, but there's nothing to particularly recommend the LaserJet 1300 over its competitors. While it did a competent job of printing all our test samples and our assessors ranked it up with the Brother in print quality, it's not particularly cheap to run, thanks to the comparatively low capacity of its toner cartridge.
The most expensive printer in the group, Epson's EPL-6200, gave the worst print quality, with our judges placing its samples last in text, graphics and photo print categories. It's not particularly quick and lies in the middle of the pack on running costs, so it's hard to recommend.
The Brother was second only to the Kyocera overall.
Brotherâ€™s HL-5150D gave the whole group a good run for its money on features, with its integral duplexer, capacious multi-purpose tray and good expansion options. Itâ€™s also good on cost of ownership, and has one of the highest output resolutions in the group â€“ though the greyscale test print came out rather dark. The Brother did do enough however to grab a Recommended award.
Kyocera's combination of value and quality wins it the Editor's Choice
This just leaves the Kyocera, which is hard to fault in any category, except perhaps style. The FS-1020D is quick and can print double-sided with its built-in duplexer. Itâ€™s expandable with extra paper trays and came top in our blind print quality assessment. And then you take into account its running costsâ€¦
Kyocera has long banged on about the low cost of ownership of its printers, thanks to its lifetime drum, which never needs replacement. Page cost and total cost of ownership figures support this, with the lowest TCO figure in the group by over 20 per cent. It's not usual to have such a clear-cut winner, but in this case the FS-1020D weâ€™ve got just that.