One doesn’t expect the world from a $100 laser printer. As such, the Pantum P2050 has a rather sparse feature set and is not likely to wow anyone with its graphics and photo quality. But this compact monochrome laser’s low price, respectable speed, and solid text quality make it worth considering as a personal or home-office printer for light-duty use. It holds its own as the first Pantum printer we’ve tested.
New Laser Maker On the Block
Pantum is the printer brand of Zhuhai Seine, a Chinese company that has traditionally made printing consumables—toner cartridges, printer drums, and the like. It launched its first printers in China in 2010, and last year entered the American market, where its focus is on lower-end business laser printers and multifunction printers (MFPs).
The all-black P2050 measures a reasonably compact 9.3 by 15 by 10.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 13.4 pounds with toner cartridge in place. It should be easy enough to find a place for it on your desk. Its connectivity is via USB only, which limits its use to a home office or sole proprietorship, or as a personal printer in any size office.
The P2050 is controlled almost entirely through your PC; it only has a single front-panel button (Cancel/Continue). The paper capacity is 150 sheets, which should be enough for a personal printer and light-duty home-office use. It lacks an auto-duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper.
I timed the P2050, rated at 21 pages per minute, on the latest version of our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at an effective 10 pages per minute (ppm), a respectable speed. It’s much faster than Samsung ML-2545, which tested at 5.1 ppm, but a bit slower than two Editors’ Choice models, the Brother HL-2240, rated at 24 ppm, that we timed at 11.4 ppm, and the Brother HL-5450dn, rated at 40 pages per minute, at 10.8 ppm. (While the rated speeds are based on text-only printing, our test suite consists of text pages, graphics pages, and pages of mixed content.)
The P2050′s overall output quality was slightly below par for a monochrome laser, with text of average quality, below-par graphics, and slightly below-par photos. Text should be fine for any business need short of ones requiring very small fonts, such as desktop publishing.
Graphics showed traces of banding (a faint pattern of striations) and dithering (dot patterns). The printer had trouble rendering gradations in tone, with little difference between some dark and light areas. Many printers have trouble printing out thin lines, in color on the original art, against a black background; the P2050 was unable to handle thicker lines as well. Although graphics may be okay for some in-house uses, they weren’t up to the quality most people would expect for use in printing out PowerPoint handouts, for instance.
Photos also showed traces of banding and dithering, but did a fair job in preserving detail in darker areas; whether photo quality is up to use in client newsletters depends on how picky you—and your clients—are.
Pantum’s claimed running cost for the P2050, based on the highest-yield (2,300-page) cartridges, is 3.5 cents per page. This is typical of a bargain-basement monochrome laser, and matches the Brother HL-2240; the Samsung ML-2545′s running costs were marginally lower, at 3.1 cents per page.
Pantum claims that its printers are durable, reducing running costs in the long run, and notes their relatively high maximum monthly duty cycle for the price—20,000 pages per month in the case of the P2050. Indeed, that’s higher than the 10,000 pages per month given for the Brother HL-2240, and 12,000 pages for the Samsung ML-2545.
The Editors’ Choice Brother HL-5450dn has a slightly higher sticker price than the Pantum, but cites lower running costs (2.1 ppm) and a higher duty cycle (50,000 pages). We have no way to test the duty cycle figures, though, and can’t be sure that they’re comparable between brands.
Like the Brother HL-2240 and Samsung ML-2545, the P2050 solely offers USB connectivity. The Brother HL-5450dn adds Ethernet to the mix.
The Pantum P2050′s 150-sheet paper capacity is on the low end for what we’d expect for a personal printer. The Brother HL-5450dn’s paper capacity is 300 sheets, between a 250-sheet main tray and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray. The Brother HL-2240 has a single 250-sheet tray, and the Samsung ML-2545 has a 250-sheet tray plus a single-sheet manual feed.
The Pantum P2050 is best seen as a light-duty printer in a sole proprietorship or home office, or a personal laser printer in any size office, for someone who will primarily be printing text. Though it’s not the fastest mono laser in its class, its speed is decent. It doesn’t have an extensive feature set, but it’s simple to use, and compact enough to not crowd your desk.
We never know quite what to expect when testing a new brand of printer. Although the Pantum P2050 may not have hit it out of the park, it’s a respectable effort for a company, previously unknown in America, trying to carve a space in the laser printer market.
|Print Duplexing||Manual with guidance|
|Direct Printing from Cameras||No|
|Maximum Standard Paper Size||Legal|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)||21 ppm|
|Color or Monochrome||Monochrome|
|Technology (for laser category only)||Laser|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc