After getting tired of my old HP inkjet printer, which kept refusing to print due to claims of low ink, I decided to get a laser printer which was “Google Cloud Print” capable. That means it has network capabilities, plus the ability to connect directly to Google Cloud Print.
This is useful for printing from our Chromebook, or any device, really.
I ended up on the Samsung ML2835DW, which I got for under $100 including a toner cartridge worth 1200 pages. The closest competitor I considered was the Brother HL-L2340DW. These seem pretty similar in specs, but I picked the Samsung because:
- It has an ethernet port, in additon to Wifi connectivity.
- It has been reviewed to have slightly better image quality.
- I did not see the same complaints about failing to print via Google Cloud Print when it falls asleep (via Wifi).
- The Samsung has 128MB of RAM, whereas the Brother has only 32MB
After some basic testing, I can confirm that it works great on Fedora 24 Linux, and setup via Google Cloud Print was very easy. I would caution people that a lot of reviews complain about flaky wifi connectivity, but so far I have only tested ethernet.
Regarding print quality, I have the following comments:
- Text quality from Google Cloud Print is sub-par. Fonts are a bit fuzzy (looks basically like inkjet output), especially non-black colors.
- Text quality from Linux default, auto-detected drivers were similarly slightly fuzzy. Linux reports the driver as STP04393.PPD / Generic PCL 6 / PCL XL Printer.
- When I installed the Samsung driver (ULD – http://negativo17.org/samsung-unified-linux-driver-printers-scanners/), the print quality improved significantly to have the expected laser-printer sharpness.
There is a lot of detail regarding similar GCP quality issues with a similar Brother laser printer here:
In conclusion, I would say that perhaps most or all inexpensive laser printers using Google Cloud Print do not support top-quality rendering of text. As with the Brother printer, I can see that the Samsung only reports the following supported content types via GCP:
Apparently the printer firmware needs to support application/pdf as a GCP content type to get good text quality. While the print quality will be good enough for my purposes, and I will be able to print in better quality via my Linux desktop when needed, I wanted to point out that *none* of the professional printer reviews has picked up on this GCP quality issue. Here’s are a couple reviews:
Given the obvious print quality issues with GCP, I think it would be extremely helpful for professional reviewers to test all printers with at least a rudimentary analysis of GCP output quality. If that spotlight were shown onto this weakness, then hopefully manufacturers would address the issue with improved firmware.