Samsung is no stranger to the laser printer market, but to-date it hasn’t been a top manufacturer rivalling the likes of Hewlett Packard, Canon, IBM, Lexmark, Kyocera and Oki, etc. According to the UK subsidiary of the Korean electronics giant, that’s all going to change this year. Boasting an £8 million marketing budget and extremely aggressive pricing, we’re likely to see a lot more of Samsung in the laser printer market and at the entry level, Samsung’s ML-5100A model, reviewed here, is likely to be their best-selling model.
Eight pages per minute is practically the norm in entry-level laser printing and the ML-5100A adds to that specification a generous 4MB of system memory, expandable to 32MB using standard SIMM modules, a 33MHz RISC processor and USB (universal serial bus) compatibility alongside the usual parallel port. The toner cartridge has a 5,000 sheet capacity and it can be replaced separately from the drum mechanism to keep the cost of consumables down. This is a good arrangement, but not quite as good as rival Kyocera’s so-far unique guarantee that its drum mechanism will last the life of the printer.
The ML-5100A also sports two paper feeds, both of which can handle envelopes. However, the sheet feed holders, each of which can hold up to 150 sheets, are of the external type, with no enclosed paper cartridge option. Up to a hundred printed sheets can stack face down at the top of the printer and you have the option of opening a flap at the front of the unit for receiving output face-up. There is also a manual sheet feed option. All this is packed into a remarkably small unit which takes up just 14 x 15 inches of desk space.
What you don’t get is a proper alpha-numeric status display. The so-called ‘operator panel’ has just three LEDs and a single multi-function button which acts as a form-feed control, page tester and on/offline control. To decipher any error states you have to note which LEDs are blinking and how fast and then look in the manual’s fault finding index. Luckily, we found little need for this as the printer mostly behaved faultlessly. The only problem we did encounter was printing via the optional PCL6 emulation. Some applications failed to print via this driver correctly. However, we had no problems with the PCL5e option which is also supplied. A free tip – despite the printer driver offering a ‘photographic’ quality mode, results were disappointingly low contrast when printing photographic images. When we tried the ‘scanned images’ setting, the quality improved dramatically.
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