Various Common Home Laser Printer Reviews

Wander into any technology store and try to buy a printer, and chances are, the salesperson will try to sell you a cheap inkjet. But wait! Don’t buy yet…well, at least not just yet. Depending on your printing needs, an inexpensive laser printer may be a better buy, especially if you print a lot of documents, or if you don’t plan on printing your own photos any time soon.

There’s a prevalence of cheap in-store and online photo-printing services, so the latter problem can often be more economically met in any case. And laserĀ printersĀ are built – even the cheap ones – to be document powerhouses, both in the speed at which documents can be printed and the cost to print each page. You do pay more upfront to purchase the printer, and the consumables typically cost a little more, but the flipside of that is that most laser toner cartridges are rated in the thousands of pages, whereas inkjet cartridges typically offer only a few hundred pages.

Brother HL-2140

Pros: The HL-2140 looks like a laser printer of old; big, boxy and solid. I wasn’t expecting much, given it’s the cheapest unit in this roundup, but the HL-2140 surprised me with good print quality at perfectly acceptable print speeds. To sweeten the deal, with the high-yield cartridge, it’s also the cheapest to run.

Cons: It is big, and that means you’ve got to find somewhere to put it. It’s also impressively noisy when warming up.

Overall I rate this laser printer a 5/5 – An excellent budget laser choice.

Canon Laser Shot LBP3250

Pros: The Laser Shot (along with HP’s P1005) proves that laser printers don’t have to look big and boxy; the Laser Shot looks as good as many inkjets I’ve tested. It’s also the second fastest of the models I tested, beaten only by the much more costly Lexmark E260d. The 2,000-page toner cartridges present a good balance between value and frequency of cartridge changes.

Cons: Possibly as a function of its small size and light body, this printer is rather noisy, both when starting up and printing. I also found there was a slight tendency towards smudged prints when using full saturation coverage. There are a lot of printing options – you don’t pick draft so much as you do toner saturation – and that adds a bit more complexity.

Overall I rate this laser printer a 4.5/5 – A great choice for the space-strapped buyer who wants style.

Fuji Xerox Phaser 3125N

Pros: The Phaser 3125N is priced like a professional laser, and for the most part, it shows. It’s one of only a few laser models in this roundup with a nice large paper tray, network support, and even a parallel port for much older PCs. Print speed matched that of the Brother printer, albeit at a lower decibel level. With an estimated 3,000-page toner life cycle, you won’t have to replace cartridges all that often.

Cons: The lower quality mode printing was noticeably faint, although certainly not unreadable. Given the Brother printer matched it for speed, it’s tough to justify the extra cash unless you need network printing.

Overall I rate this laser printer a 3.5/5 – For those who want a networked home laser without sharing via a PC.

HP LaserJet P1005

Pros: The P1005 certainly proves that a laser printer doesn’t need to take up much more space than an inkjet; at 347 by 224 by 194mm, it’s truly tiny, and will comfortably fit on a desk. Setup was also a very simple task.

Cons: However, that’s where the good stuff ends. The HP was the second slowest laser (beaten only by the turgid speeds of the Samsung), and its tiny frame made it a real noise maker. The final nail in its coffin is the printing cost; at an estimated 7.46 cents per printed page, this would be an expensive printer to run.

Overall I rate this laser printer a 3/5 – Only for those with a really tiny space to place a laser.

Lexmark E260D

Pros: The E260D shows what you can do when you’ve got a bit more cash to splash out on a laser printer, as it wiped the floor with everything else in my speed tests, spitting out five very well-printer pages in both draft and normal modes in 11-14 seconds flat. I suspect if you torqued up the print feed motor, it’d do it even quicker.

Cons: Around at $350, the E260D is the most expensive model submitted for review – for what it’s worth Lexmark do offer cheaper laser models, but this was what they sent me to test.

Overall I rate this laser printer a 3.5/5 – A more serious office tool for those who need fast bulk printing.

Samsung CLP-310

Pros: The CLP-310 is the sole colour laser entrant in this roundup, so if having a dash of colour is important to you, it’s a good option. It’s also relatively small, which is important if your space is at a premium.

Cons: While print costs are moderate (my figures are for black toner yields only), the CLP-310 does itself no favours at all in the print speed stakes; it took longer to print out its first page than many of the other models did to complete all five in normal mode. Even its draft performance was slower that any other printers here.

Overall I rate this laser printer a 3/5 – A decent printer if colour is important to you, but otherwise too slow.