Nearly identical twins
We encountered some difficulty setting up the ML-1250. The printer is more flexible than the HP LaserJet 1000; it supports both USB and parallel printing (cables not included), and it works with Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, NT 4.0, Linux Red Hat 6.0 or later, and Mac OS 8.0 and above. But unlike the HP LaserJet 1000, USB installation for the ML-1250 is definitely not user-friendly. The included quick-start guide is helpful only if you plan to connect to your PC via the parallel port; the guide's instructions for USB installation don't match what actually happens onscreen. You can set up the printer through much trial and error, as we did, or refer to the appendix of the user guide for more instructions. For example, in the appendix, it tells you to make sure you set the PC's printer port to USB, a detail missing from the quick-start guide.
The ML-1250 has the same petite design as the ML-1210. The front panel sports three lights (Error, Paper, and Data) and three buttons (Demo, Cancel, and Toner Save). Like the HP LaserJet 1000, the paper tray is not removable, but the ML-1250 goes one worse by supporting an anemic 150 sheets of paper compared to the HP's 250. The output bin (located on top) holds 100 sheets, compared with 125 for the LaserJet 1000. The Samsung ML-1250 supports a variety of paper types, including envelopes, A4, legal, and executive. There's also an alternate face-up paper slot (with no output tray) for printing on thicker media. The ML-1250 comes with 4MB of memory that can be expanded to 68MB.
Samsung's software is definitely busier-looking than the HP LaserJet 1000's, but both cover all of the basic features. For example, you can make adjustments to the resolution (300dpi, 600dpi, or 1,200dpi) and half-toning, which lets you control the lightness or darkness of shading and influence the amount of detail you see in the image. You'll also find features for watermarks, overlays, and printing multiple pages per sheet.
Once we got the ML-1250 running, we were impressed with its text-printing speeds. In CNET Labs' tests, the printer delivered 9.9ppm for text documents. This is slightly faster than the 9.5ppm clocked by the ML-1210 and quite a bit faster than the 8.2ppm turned in by the HP LaserJet 1000. However, when we added graphics to the mix, the result was entirely different. For our combined text-and-graphics documents, the ML-1250 chugged along at 5.8ppm--ouch! Even the LaserJet 1000, with its slower engine (10ppm compared to the 1250's 12ppm), came in at 8ppm.
We might have forgiven the ML-1250's sluggish performance if the output quality had been top-notch. However, graphics appeared overly dark, causing some loss of detail in photographic images. In addition, shaded areas appeared rough and showed a definite banding pattern that was quite distracting. Text looked good, and the overall dark printing contributed to bold and easy-to-read letters, but letters looked fuzzy at smaller point sizes.