THE GOOD: Cheap; prints high-quality text and graphics-heavy documents; USB, wireless and Ethernet connectivity; small footprint.
THE BAD: Lacks autoduplexing; ships with starter toner cartridge.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Samsung ML-2525W monochrome laser printer doesn't pack in extra features, but delivers worthwhile improvements over previous generations in output speed and quality. We highly recommend this wireless workhorse if you refuse to sacrifice quality for affordability.
The Samsung ML-2525W is simple by nature: it only prints black, but offers the advantages of manual double-sided printing, a single-sheet tray, and wireless networking. For all that, its biggest boon for home offices, students, and small businesses (especially in this post-recession economy) is its $150 price tag, making it one of the cheapest laser printers we've tested to date. We have no issue recommending the ML-2525W based on its capability to churn out near-flawless prints in record time for a great price.
Design and Features
Laser printers have earned themselves a scarred reputation for their yawn-inducing designs, and although the ML-2525W doesn't stray far from the herd, Samsung designed a few bits of flair to set it apart. The physical features haven't changed much since the Samsung ML-2851ND, with the exception of a flat black finish and a textured check pattern covering the paper tray on top. Somewhere along the way, Samsung also managed to cut the fat to 16.9 pounds, a full 9 pounds lighter than the ML-2851ND. It's also slightly smaller, measuring only 7.8 inches tall, 14.2 inches wide, and 15.3 inches deep.
The top of the unit has one big power button and two LCDs that indicate print activity and network status. There's also a button for demo print and another to cancel a print job. The input tray feeds into the bottom and can hold the standard 250 sheets of paper, but Samsung also gives you the option of purchasing a 250-sheet drawer accessory. Finally, a manual tray located just below the toner-access handle lets you feed single sheets of media into the printer.
Samsung offers a variety of ways to connect the ML-2525W to a computer. The back of the devices has a standard USB 2.0 port for wired access, but you also get an Ethernet port for wired networking and an 802.11b/g print server for wireless connectivity. All three methods require you to connect the printer to the USB 2.0 cord first before sniffing out networks, and we were able to establish a connection to our lab's wireless network in less than five minutes using the step-by-step instructions on the driver.
Once you get started, you can access paper size, function, toggling auto-duplexing (printing on both sides of a sheet of paper), and other general settings through the display screen, or you can alter the more intricate options through the driver menu, such as print resolution (up to 1200 dpi), security, network information, toner darkness, and more. The software automatically installs a small status monitor into the Windows taskbar, but it doesn't display job progress or notify the user when consumables are running low.
One of the most common complaints about laser printers is the price of consumables. Samsung offers an affordable $75 high-capacity cartridge that will last for 2,500 pages according to Samsung, but we should note that the ML-2525W ships with a 1,000 page "Starter Toner Cartridge," a sneaky cut that might have you dropping more cash on consumables before you know it, depending on your average print volume.
The ML-2525W isn't the flashiest printer on the shelf, but it certainly sets the pace for the rest of the monochrome laser market in terms of print speed and output quality. It's fairly rare to see a printer crank out text, graphics, and PowerPoint presentations at the same speed, but this Samsung maintains a solid 20 pages per minute across the board, roughly the same speed as the ML-2851ND.
Like most mono-lasers, the Samsung text quality results were superb, with dark lines and even thickness in bold fonts and large lettering. Navigating through the driver, you'll find options to "Print all text to black" and "Print all text to darken," which do exactly what they say: they allow the printer to make dark lines and text even darker, enhancing solid characters for extra emphasis throughout the page, most notably on large blocks of black color. This model also improves on previous iterations that struggled with our test graphics document. The sample page from the ML-2525W features subtle movement from black-to-white gradations and within varying percentages of shading. We don't expect many users to rely on their monochrome laser for photos, but our presentation samples with detailed images are acceptable for a professional environment.
Service and Support Samsung supports the ML-2525W with a one-year, limited warranty and toll-free tech support. Samsung's online Support Center also offers a how-to guide, a FAQ, and software downloads, including drivers, manuals, and firmware updates.