Sub-£100 laser printers are nothing new, but for that money you'd expect a fairly basic personal laser. Samsung's ML-3050 certainly covers the basics, but also offers a couple of extras you might not expect.
At first sight the ML-3050 is nothing special: a squashed cube in two tones of grey with a 250-sheet paper tray sliding out from the bottom and a multi-purpose tray folding down from the front panel. This isn't a single-sheet tray, though, and can take up to 100 sheets of special media, such as letterheads or envelopes. Pages end up in an output tray set into the top of the machine.
Also at the top is the control panel, though there's no LCD display here, just three buttons: one stops a print job, the second switches on toner saving and the last, a bit of a sales indulgence, prints a demo page. At the back are both USB 2 and parallel ports, again unusual in an entry-level printer but useful if all your USB ports are in use.
The printer is supplied with a low capacity toner cartridge which is capable of producing 4,000 pages at 5% coverage, to reduce print costs to around 1.7p per page it would be necessary to replace this cartridge when empty with the high capacity 8,000 page ML-D3050b cartridge.
As this cartridge can cost almost as much as the printer it is essential to shop around for the best value, try comparing prices from Samsung with local retailers and an online discounter like Cartcon.
The ML-3050 is a quick machine for the money and we saw 16ppm for text and just over 4ppm for photographic prints. While neither of these speeds comes close to Samsung's rating of 28ppm, real-world measurements rarely do. The text print speed in particular is very reasonable for a printer in this price range.
The printer has a resolution of 1,200dpi, but this is an enhanced figure and the native resolution is half this. Even so, it gave better reproduction of our test photo at 600dpi than with the 1,200dpi enhancement turned on. In both modes it did well for a mono laser and text print was particularly crisp and precise.
In conclusion the ML-3050 is a great little laser printer, giving quality print at low price. It's easy to set up and use and is quick enough for most personal print applications. Samsung needs to look at the pricing of its print cartridges, though, if its customers aren't to buy new printers each time they need more toner.
Alan Wilson has over 10 years experience in the imaging industry and is a director of Cartridge Concept.