So these are your requirements. You are on an extremely tight budget but it's absolutely vital that you have access to a fast and efficient printer that will be a tireless workhorse for your needs. Not only that, but your space is limited, so you must find one with a tiny footprint.
Fortunately, Samsung has anticipated your requirements and produced a response in the shape of its ML-1865W mono laser printer. It's hard to believe such a light packaging box contains a printer, scarcely larger than a bread bin, that can possibly come up to scratch - yet Samsung has trumpeted this as the "ultra small printer made to fit your specific needs".
If it had a personality, the ML-1865W would probably be classed as modest and unassuming. Styled in a subtle blend of glossy and matt black with smoothly rounded corners, this machine is not trying to draw attention to itself but rather to fit neatly and unobtrusively into a crowded work surface. Measuring just 341 x 224 x 184mm and weighing a mere 4.2kg, this ultra-compact printer has such a small footprint that it would work equally well as a road companion for a travelling business person.
The drop-down panel at the front becomes a 150-sheet input tray, complete with paper guides for up to A4 format. Similarly, a flip-down panel at the top becomes the output tray (with extra extender) for 100 sheets - more than sufficient for a relatively low-output office. Lifting the top panel reveals the black toner cartridge, which can be replaced swiftly using the attached handle. It's worth pointing out, though, that the initial cartridge you're supplied with is just a 700-page starter rather than the full version which will extend the print run to 1,500 pages.
One Touch Wi-Fi
When it comes to the control system, it certainly couldn't be much simpler. Just to the right of the output tray and all but invisible against the black background is a power button and the WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Set-up) button. Pressing the power button once, in use, will let you instantly switch to an energy-saving standby mode, which you can then reverse out of by pushing the button once more.
One of Samsung's much-vaunted unique selling points for the ML-1865W is the One Touch Wi-Fi setting, which is supposed to do exactly what it says on the tin within a matter of seconds. Some might regret the fact that there's no form of LCD to tell you if your connection is sound, but separate light bar indicators above the WPS button confirm whether you have a wired or wireless link.
Now when we tried establishing the Wi-Fi link in the suggested manner, initially it took a couple of goes for both the router and the printer to be successfully talking to each other. Once established, printing was fast and smooth but after the machine had been on for a while it occasionally lost the connection until it was jogged back into Wi-Fi. If this becomes an issue for you, then it might be simpler to rely on the USB cable to talk to your computer. It may be partly for this reason that the ML-1865W can now be had for as low as £59.94.
Auto duplex, as you might expect, is not a principal feature of this unit but that remains true for many entry-level laser printers. When it comes to speed, the ML-1865W is definitely no slouch as it barely wastes any time pondering and whirring (the first page out is in around eight seconds) before spitting out A4 text documents at an average rate of 17ppm. A4 sized photos and graphics were also zooming out at roughly four seconds each with no signs of stuttering or jamming during the operation.
As for the quality, the ML-1865W prints at a resolution of 1,200 x 600dpi and a close examination of text documents uncovers an impressive solidity of line and characters with no obvious signs of feathering, streaking or fading. The amount of detail on photos and graphics was also well above average for what you might expect for a low-end printer, despite occasional slight banding.
As we mentioned earlier, the boxed version of the ML-1865W only comes with the half-full version of the toner cartridge, but if you buy the full MLT-D1042S version (approximately £48), which is good for 1,500 pages, then your costs work out at a little over 3p per page. In addition, this is one of the quietest printers of its type, despite the speed at which it churns out documents - operating at less than 50 dBA at maximum output and as low as 26 dBA in standby. In other words, it's hard to resist.
The ML-1865W is clearly a bargain for anyone who wants a fast, good quality, compact and exceedingly affordable mono laser printer devoid of any excess frills. The (occasionally unpredictable) One Touch Wi-Fi setup is an extra bonus without being essential and while some may bemoan the absence of an LCD-based menu and any extra peripherals, the only real down side is that Samsung are due to replace this model soon so grab it while you can.
Pros: Exceptionally low price, fast print speeds, good quality reproductions.
Cons: No LCD or printing independent of a PC, Wi-Fi connection not always stable.
Price: £59.94 inc. VAT