- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2001

Like Diogenes searching for that one honest soul, I keep looking for that one great output bargain. I may have found one and it delivers on its promise, providing high-quality laser printing at a price of get this $199.

The ML-1210 churns out text at an exceptionally quick 12 pages per minute with a resolution of 600 dots per inch. Equipped with a standard 66-MHz processor and 8MB of memory, the ML-1210 is the equal (or better) of some lasers costing twice as much. The company also claims its "micro toner produces sharper text and graphics than ordinary toners" would.

The printer also offers a "toner save," which, when depressed, reduces toner consumption by up to 40 percent, extending the life of a 2,500-page toner cartridge to 3,500 pages. There is what the maker calls a "unique N-up printing mode," which Samsung says can print up to 16 pages of text on a single sheet of paper, generating an index sheet that can serve as a convenient map for lengthy documents.

The ML-1210 incorporates both parallel port and USB interfaces and is also compatible with the iMac, making it one of the least expensive Mac laser printers on the market. Support for Red Hat Linux is also advertised by the makers.

I was able to set up the ML-1210 in a matter of minutes, printing a test page with tremendous ease. It occupies a smaller corner of my desk than the Hewlett Packard LaserJet 1100 that once sat there and seems rather quiet. The paper path is straightforward, entering at the rear of the unit and exiting either from a slot in the front of the printer (for heavy card stock or envelopes) or into a collating bin on the top. There are two bins, one for paper and the other for envelopes.

Print speeds can seem a little strange on this unit, however. From a "standing start," i.e., the printer plugged in and turned on at my desk, it took about 40 seconds to generate a single page of text in Microsoft Word. However, once that printout took place, it took less than five seconds for the first of five copies in a second printing of that page to begin printing and all five copies were finished in less than 30 seconds. I waited five minutes and printed a single page again and again the printing began in under five seconds.

This is not "benchmarking" in the traditional sense of computer testing, but then again as I've said here before it is rare that anyone goes out and buys a computer (or printer) to slap it on a test bench and run experiments all day. We buy hardware to accomplish goals, at work or at home.

Overall, then, I'm impressed with the ML-1210 as a device, and one that can handle a fair amount of work in a home office/small office situation with ease. I was particularly impressed that it worked well with my copy of Windows XP and via a USB connection, no less. (If and when I get a Mac hooked up on my desk, the thoughtful presence of a parallel port will let me keep using this with the PC and the iMac as well.)

What's not to like? Not much. The cost of "consumables," such as ink or, in this case, laser toner, is a sore spot for me: I prefer to keep these costs down and I'm not a fan of do-it-yourself refills. In the case of the Samsung ML-1210, the cost per page ranges from 2.79 cents per page in "normal" print mode down to 1.99 cents per page in "toner save" mode. This compares very favorably with the HP LaserJet 1100 xi, where cartridges deliver pages at 2.5 cents each. Yes, the cost per page is slightly lower with the HP product, but the printer, if ordered from HP, costs twice as much as the Samsung model.

And, by the way, in the "toner save" mode, I saw no appreciable difference in output quality on a text document. I would happily use that mode for most items, and the "full" toner mode for masters of things that would be duplicated elsewhere, for legal documents as well as printing checks and postage meter items, both of which I do regularly.

More information on the Samsung printer can be had by calling 888/887-8536 or from the company's Web site at www.samsungusa.com/printer.

• Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; send e-mail to [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk back live to Mark on www.adrenaline-radio.com. every Thursday from 8 to 9 p.m., Eastern time.

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