The Samsung SCX-3205 is a mono laser printer with a fairly cheap price tag and generally impressive all-round performance.
As a cost-effective mono printer ideal for churning out moderate quantities of text and simple graphics, the Samsung ML-1915 has been riding high in our Sub-£150 printers chart for over a year now. The Samsung SCX-3205, then, has quite an act to follow. And if it doesn't quite blow the ML-1915 out of the water, it does just enough to justify its position as a worthy choice when the ML-1915 expires.
A multifunction device (it offers scanning and copying as well), the Samsung SCX-3205 provides added functionality. In many respects, though, it follows the ML-1915 blueprint, with a sleek black nicely curved design that wouldn't look out of place in either home or office.
The Samsung SCX-3205's £99 price tag is fairly cheap, and you can see signs of cost-cutting if you look closer. The paper is fed into the tray at the bottom of the printer, but there's sadly no cover to protect the paper from floating dust particles. The tray itself isn't particularly large - it holds just 150 sheets, in contrast to the 250 sheet version provided with the ML-1915. The output tray has also been reduced, with the printer holding just 50 sheets, rather than the 80 of the ML-1915.
The moderate paper handling facilities clearly signify that the Samsung SCX-3205 isn't being aimed at businesses with a need for large print jobs. And, indeed, there's no hint of Ethernet capabilities, although a number of users (mostly of the home variety) will be interested in paying an extra £65 for the SCX-3205W, which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity.
In common with the ML-1915, the Samsung SCX-3205 has a few nice extras, such as the Print Screen button, which can automatically print off whatever's on the screen, or the Eco Print button, which squeezes two pages onto a single sheet of paper. There are no auto-duplex facilities sadly, but of course the SCX-3205 does have copying facilities and a very competent scanning feature. The scanner is built into the top of the Samsung, and while the lid feels rather flimsy, it is highly flexible, allowing users to fit in bulky items like books and manuals. The scanning quality is very decent given the price, with adequate reproduction of detail.
The Samsung SCX-3205 gets very close to the manufacturer's stated print speed figures, and we achieved 13.6 pages per minute in the Normal mode, just 2.4ppm short of the quoted figure of 16ppm. In the Best mode, the speed dropped to a still impressive 13ppm - this compares very favourably with the 11.5ppm notched up by the ML-1915 in its highest quality mode.
Both of the Samsung SCX-3205's text modes are good, with clear and well-defined characters. In the Normal mode, the output is darker but also slightly thicker and the letters aren't quite as perfectly formed as in Best mode. Nonetheless, both produce very competent text output. The ML-1915 fell slightly below par when it came to graphics printing. The SCX-3205 has superior variation of shades and even made a good job of a number of photos that we asked it to print. Good graphics printing on a mono model is rarely going to be a crucial factor, but the SCX-3205 performs well in this area, and its speed of 11.5ppm in Normal mode (9.7ppm in Best) is very decent.
Surprisingly, the Samsung SCX-3205 isn't particularly cheap to run. With toner cartridges costing around £46 and offering 1500 pages a time, the running costs amount to almost 3.1p a page. This is higher than on a number of colour models we've seen, although it's not too bad compared to some in the Sub-£150 printers chart - including the Oki C110. You can certainly cut running costs by specifying a printer that's rather more expensive in the first place - the £174 mono Kyocera Mita FS-1320D, for instance, costs less than half as much for a page of text.
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