No-brainer budget buy
Paper feed was generally accurate, though on a couple of occasions a page feeding from the machine pushed the top sheet sitting in the output tray, leaving an untidy stack. There's no paper-stop to flip up, to prevent this happening, though we didn't have any pages landing on the desk.
Not the quietest, but a sound choice
Although it's small, this isn't a particularly quiet printer and we measured peak noise levels of 63dBA at half a metre, mainly when feeding paper. Paper pickup is always the noisiest part of the print cycle, in both laser and inkjet machines, and this is as noisy as some heavyweight, workgroup printers.
There’s only one consumable in the ML-1640, a drum and toner cartridge rated at 1,500 pages. Running costs depend entirely on the price you can find this for and the cheapest we could turn up was just under £38. This gives a cost per page of 2.35p, which is about average for an entry-level mono laser, and even for those costing up to £100, so you’re not paying a premium to compensate for the low asking price of the machine itself.
The pricing of printers and their consumables is a delicate game for manufacturers to play. If they bring the asking price of the printer itself right down, they need to make up income by increasing the price of the consumables. If the consumables cost becomes too high a proportion of the complete machine’s, however, they risk customers buying a second printer, rather than a cartridge, when it runs out. This doesn't help balance their books.
With a consumable price of £38 and a printer price typically around £50, Samsung is getting pretty close, but gets around it – as so many other printer makers do – by shipping the ML-1640 with a ‘starter’ cartridge, good for just 700 pages. This has the double advantage that it makes a second printer less attractive than a full-yield cartridge and that it forces the customer to start buying cartridges sooner in the life-cycle of the printer.
While a cover for the paper tray would be a bonus, this is, nonetheless, a well designed, entry-level mono laser printer which, although simple, does everything you could ask for under £50. It’s quick, does well on printing text and reasonably well on graphics and costs no more than its competitors to run. ®
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