Despite appearances, the 3125N is fast. Over USB, a mere 15 seconds elapsed before the first page was delivered, and subsequent text pages followed at a very rapid 23ppm. Bumping the quality to high with economy mode turned off didn’t affect the speed for either low or high-quality documents. The breaks did come on a little when printing full A4 images, however, but at 8ppm it’s still quite acceptable.
The 3125N’s connectivity options are also quite comprehensive. As well as USB 2.0 and the legacy parallel port, the “N” model that we reviewed has 10/100 Ethernet support. Driver compatibility is excellent, supporting Windows, Mac and most Unix variants.
Quality, however, was the Achilles Heel. Depending on your needs, it might also be a show stopper. Black text in standard typefaces looked excellent, but any deviation was met with ghastly results. Despite the high 1200dpi resolution, greys and anti-aliased text appear very coarsely dithered. Images receive the same treatment, with a visible grain in lighter greys and banding in dark shades reminiscent of a cheap inkjet.
High-resolution photos were sub-par, even at full quality. Although presentable in a pinch, there was heavy banding, and the intensity of black was weaker than we would have liked.
Despite the very sparse toner coverage, running costs are toward the high end. The supplied toner is a low-capacity 1000 page unit, and the replacement 3000 page units cost around $140, which works out to be just shy of 5c per page.
The duty cycle is phenomenal, however. Most personal lasers can handle anywhere between 500 and 5000 pages in a month, but at a rated 20,000 pages per month — nearly seven whole toners — this printer will keep going where the others fail.
Compared to our currently A-listed printer — the Brother HL-5240 — the Phaser falls well short of the mark in nearly every respect. If you only need a printer to quickly handle invoicing or plain documents in large quantities such as in a small business, then these shortcomings can be overlooked. On the other hand, if you need to print graphics, web pages or anything where you want to impress, look elsewhere.