A monolith of my very own

Have finally bitten the bullet and purchased a printer-scanner-copier thingy. Apparently you’re supposed to refer to them as ‘multi-function devices’, but that sounds disturbingly medical, to my ears at least. I’ve resisted buying one for a long time, due to my extremely low print rate and dislike of even more equipment to clutter up the place, but I’ve need a scanner several times recently, and the local internet cafe I’ve previously used for printing decided to start charging a minimum usage time.

The clincher was finding a device that doesn’t resemble a beige-coloured accident in a stationary cupboard, and a laser-based one no less. This was a slightly high-risk proposition, since I don’t know anyone else with a Samsung printer, let alone anyone using one with a Mac. Some searching online confirmed that Samsung has a patchy track-record in supporting the Mac, but also that, in the US at least, they have signed some partnership / rebate deal with Apple to sell this particular model through the store – this led me to hope they’d ensured the drivers were of decent quality.

The UK price varies considerably – I finally opted for a site called Printerbase, who shipped the machine via overnight courier (impressive) but sadly shipped the USB cable via Royal Mail Signed-For, which didn’t arrive till the following day ((Why can’t they just stick the cable inside the box? For that matter, why can’t Samsung?!)). Ooops. Setup was trivial, and the software is pretty unobtrusive – a printer driver (integrates well, printer was automatically added), image-capture plugin and a mostly-useless ‘panel’ that lives in the menu bar and provides quick access to a few functions. Fortunately the panel seems to be completely optional and I’ve now switched it off. Compared to the vast battery of software installed by the HP all-in-one devices, this was a pleasant relief.

I’d forgotten quite how rapid laser printers are compared to inkjets, and the quality is excellent of course, no smudging to worry about. Scanning isn’t the fastest in the world, and there’s no sheet feeder, but for my needs it’s perfect – and unobtrusive the rest of the time.

All such considerations are of course secondary to the most important feature of the device, though – it’s black, glossy ((Samsung don’t supply a USB cable, but do supply a special lint-free cleaning cloth!)), all the readouts are blue LEDs, and the buttons are touch-sensitive. It’s also nice to see a small laser printer in the ‘flat’ format rather than the ‘tall’ format – for years I considered buying an old LaserWriter 4/600 (or the HP equivalent, the LaserJet 4L), simply because the physical format is so elegant.

Posted Friday, July 11th, 2008 under geek, toys.

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