- Review Price: £74.54
How small and simple can a laser printer be? Samsung’s ML-1640 must be pretty close to the limits on both counts. Designed as a personal printer for home or home office use, it’s about is straightforward as a printer can get.
The frosted and gloss black box is about the size of a half-loaf breadmaker and when closed, it takes up very little room on the desktop. To print you need to unfold the output paper support from its top surface and fold down the front flap, which becomes the paper feed tray. This can take up to 150 sheets of 75g/sm paper.
If you want to leave the printer ready to print, you have to leave the tray open, without a paper cover to protect it from dust. Most entry-level printers include, at least, a detachable cover, while the £75 Canon i-SENSYS LBP-3100 has one built-in.
Controls and indicators on the printer’s top surface comprise a light for power and data, a second for low toner and a single button to cancel a print job. At the back of the left side panel is a single USB socket and at the back of the right-hand side is a standard kettle-lead, power connection – we did say this printer was simple!
Samsung provides a combined drum and toner cartridge with the ML-1640 and this includes a long, articulated handle, with which you manipulate the cartridge to the back of the printer, inside the case. This is a bit fiddly and it’s important to press it firmly in on the left-hand side, or the machine reports a lack of cartridge. We were caught by this, as the cartridge was supplied in situ and had shifted during transit, so was not properly located when we came to test it.
A standard cartridge for the machine has toner for 1,500 pages but, like many other suppliers, Samsung provides a starter cartridge in the box – this one runs for just 700 pages. Providing starter cartridges is more excusable in inexpensive machines such as this, but Samsung should make the toner capacity plainer on the box.
Software bundled with the printer comprises the Dr. Printer diagnostic and a driver which supports watermarks, overlays, up to 16 pages per sheet and instructions for manual duplexing. It’s very clear and easy to use.
Samsung claims a print speed of 16ppm for the ML-1640 and, for once, we don’t disagree. Our five-page text print took 30 seconds to complete, so a print speed of 10ppm, but when we ran our 20-page job, it completed in 1:24, which is 14.3ppm. As you extend the length of a print job, so the processing time becomes a smaller and smaller part and we could see the machine reaching 16ppm on a job of 100 pages or so.
The quality of pages produced by this printer is very good for a mono laser at well under £100. Text print is precise and clean and there’s little sign of toner spatter making the edges of characters fuzzy.
Greyscale graphics are also well reproduced, with enough difference between shades to differentiate between colours. There’s some very slight banding, but you have to look quite closely to see it and black text over greyscale fills shows up well.
Our test photo was also reasonably well reproduced, though the enhanced 600 x 1200dpi resolution leaves the image looking a little dotty. Even so, there’s a surprising amount of detail in the shadows and we would be happy to use photos in external as well as internal documentation.
We noticed a couple of idiosyncrasies when running our tests. For a start, pages feeding to the top paper tray would occasionally catch the trailing edge of the preceding sheet, pushing it out of the tray at an angle. This may have been linked to the slight paper mist we could see as pages were fed out. Because the fuser in this machine sits so close to the output slot, it could be part of the water content of the paper vaporising into these small wisps.
Having said that, we were using the same paper, from resealable packs, stored in our lab at office temperatures, so we wouldn’t expect the moisture content of the paper to be particularly high.
The single running cost is the combined drum and toner cartridge and with this priced around £42 online, we come up with a cost per page of 4.02p, including paper and VAT, which is around 25 percent higher than from the Canon i-SENSYS LBP-3100. While all companies have to recoup some of the low sale price of entry-level laser printers in their consumables costs, four pence per sheet is high for a mono page.
This is a neat, functional mono laser printer, which is easy to use and produces good quality text and graphics prints at speed. Its comparatively expensive to run, though, and we would like to see some dust protection for paper sitting in the feed tray. You need to compare it with competitors, such as the highlighted Canon machine, before making a final choice.
Score in detail
Print Speed 9
Print Quality 8
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