The Samsung ML-3051ND straddles the gap between an über-expensive office laser printer and a personal laser printer, both in terms of features and price. For around £250, you get a network-ready mono printer with versatile paper-handling options, expandable memory and high-quality prints.
The ML-3051ND model includes a built-in duplexer, but if you don't need that, the ML-3051N is around £50 cheaper. The ML-3051ND is an excellent choice for a small office with high-volume printing needs that doesn't need colour prints.
The Samsung ML-3051ND's boxy grey exterior epitomises the cube-farm aesthetic: it's nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done. The printer sits 399mm wide, 432mm deep and nearly 284mm tall. Hand grips at the base of either side make it easy to move the printer around, though as a networked printer, you probably won't move it frequently.
The simple control panel underscores the printer's basic functionality. Five buttons help you navigate the intuitive menu: menu, OK, back and two direction keys. The remaining buttons include a toner save button, a demo button and a job cancel button.
The ML-3051ND has an impressive array of paper-handling features for such a low price. A 250-sheet paper cassette pulls out from the bottom and can handle A4 and up to legal-size paper. (When using legal-size sheets, the paper cassette will stick out a little from the rear of the printer.) A second 250-sheet paper cassette is available as an option. Folding down a flap on the front of the printer reveals the multi-purpose tray, which can hold up to 50 sheets of plain paper. Likewise, you have two options for output: a deep well in the top of the printer serves as the main output, while a door in the rear of the printer covers the straight pass-through output, handy for thicker media such as card stock.
The ML-3051ND's features are on a par with its price. Both the ML-3051ND and the ML-3051N models come as standard with three connection options: USB, Ethernet and a parallel connector, and support both Windows and Mac OSs. Wireless networking is available as an add-on option. The printer houses a 400MHz processor and comes with 64MB of RAM standard, which you can expand up to 320MB. On the ML-3051N, duplexing is a manual operation, but a built-in duplexer comes with the more expensive ML-3051ND. The Lexmark C500n is priced on a par with the ML-3051ND but lacks a duplexer, and its memory is not expandable. On the other hand, it does print in colour.
The entire front panel of the printer swings down to reveal the single black toner cartridge. Replacing it is simply a matter of pulling out the used cartridge by its handle and inserting a new one. The toner save button on the control panel allows you to reduce the amount of toner used on each page, saving you money. Obviously, less toner also means lower print quality. The standard toner cartridge (around £60) prints about 4,000 pages (1.5p per page), while the high-yield cartridge (around £100) prints twice that (1.2p per page).