Top 10 Printers

SAN FRANCISCO (03/20/2000) - We've seen a number of new monochrome laser printers since we last looked at models in January, and several newcomers gain slots on our Top 10 list. The Xerox Corp. DocuPrint N2125 debuts on the corporate chart in first place with quick text-printing speeds and top-notch letter quality. Two new models from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.--the QL-7050 and the QL-6100--enter the corporate and small-business/home charts, respectively. Finally, the Brother International Corp. HL-1270N, a networked version of our SOHO Best Buy, lands at number five.

In The Office

We tested seven lasers this month--five designed for larger offices and two best suited to small or home-based businesses. On the corporate side, the well-equipped Xerox DocuPrint N2125 earns a Best Buy slot. We were impressed by its speeds (11.7 pages per minute on text and 3.7 ppm on graphics); crisp, bright text; flawless line art; and respectable, if somewhat dark, gray-scale images. Its control panel is carefully designed and easy to use. Xerox includes feature-rich printer management software with the DocuPrint N2125--it can e-mail you a warning when running low on supplies or store password-protected documents on its optional hard drive ($409). Xerox also sells a raft of paper-handling options for this model, including two 550-sheet paper trays for $229 each (bringing the total input capacity to 1750 sheets), an envelope feeder for $229, and a duplexer for $249.

The DocuPrint N2125 is no bargain, however. At $1299, it costs $300 more than NEC's SuperScript 1800N, which prints about as fast and has a built-in duplexer. But the Xerox shines with clear print quality, myriad optional paper trays, and a simple design. (A nonnetworked version, the N2125b, costs $999.)Also new to the corporate chart is the Samsung QL-7050. Its zippy 12.6-ppm text printing and 3.9-ppm graphics speeds help it land at number four. And the $899 price tag looks even better when you consider its built-in duplexer. Text and lines look crisp, but graphics are dark and a bit rough.

The three other corporate laser printers we tested missed the chart. Kyocera's $1099 FS-3750 and Mita's $1025 DP-1800 are nearly identical, and both are painfully slow for big-office printers: The DP-1800 turns out text at 9 ppm and the FS-3750 at 9.5 ppm, compared to our corporate chart's current average of 11.6 ppm. Kyocera recently bought Mita's printer group, and these two models share Kyocera's muddled control panel, flimsy auxiliary tray, and rough text (though the FS-3750 creates sharper lines and the DP-1800's gray-scale graphics are smoother).

Kyocera's $899 FS-1750 has the same engine as the FS-3750 and prints text even slower, at a very poky 7.7 ppm. It creates surprisingly better output, with solid, even text, but its slow speeds and dotted gray-scales keep it off the chart.

At Home

If you have a small office or a home-based business, Brother's HL-1270N or Samsung's QL-6100 may be right for you. Debuting in fifth place, the HL-1270N prints crisp text and accurate graphics that closely resemble output from Brother's HL-1240, which retains the top spot on our SOHO chart this month. The primary differences are price and speed: The HL-1240 costs $299 while the HL-1270N sells for $499 (the extra $200 buys a standard ethernet card). The HL-1270N's 6.9 ppm text speed is about 15 percent slower than the HL-1240, but it's adequate for home use.

Both the HL-1240 and the HL-1270N sport a few annoying quirks. Neither has a tray for the auxiliary paper feed, so you have to hold your envelope or sheet of paper at the printer. And a prompt before every print job asks whether you want to use the N-up or poster formats. (N-up fits multiple pages onto a single sheet, while poster format prints a single page across multiple sheets.)Samsung's QL-6100 takes second place on the SOHO chart. It's pricey ($549 without an optional $180 ethernet card) but fast. The text-printing speed of 10.1 ppm is comparable to the lasers on our corporate chart. It prints clean, if slightly pale, text and clear lines. Graphics look good, but a bit dark and rough at the edges. It's also easy to use, with a clearly written manual and well-marked control panel. Still, the QL-6100 probably doesn't belong in a big office. It's a bit flimsy for heavy use, and its main paper tray holds 250 sheets, versus 350 to 1100 sheets for the corporate models on our chart (a second 250-sheet tray costs $180).

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More about Brother International (Aust)KyoceraMitaNECSamsungSamsung Electronics AustraliaXerox

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