As the Samsung CLP-315 and Dell 1320cn demonstrate, it's possible to get a spectacular amount of printer without spending much more than $200. The Konica Minolta 1650EN therefore has a tricky task on its hands, needing to balance performance and print quality without breaking the bank.
In terms of desk space, it's more intrusive than the Samsung CLP-315, but it offers more features. Top billing goes to the Ethernet port, which makes the 1650EN a decent choice for workgroups.
It can't match the Dell 1320cn for speed, however, thanks to its four-pass colour printing. Black and white printing was respectable, at 21ppm, but pages with colour printed at just 5ppm.
That means the Konica Minolta's chief rival is the smaller Samsung. Despite having similar maximum noise pressure claims - Konica Minolta says the 1650EN generates 50dB(A) at its loudest, versus Samsung's 47dB(A) - over the course of a few hundred pages, the Samsung was the quieter machine.
Against the background hum of work and air conditioning in an office, most laser printers are acceptably quiet, but for a single-user home office the Samsung is more manageable.
There are few distinctions in terms of quality. The Konica Minolta couldn't match the likes of the Dell or Brother printers in our business graphics tests. Its output was less elegant and refined, and our test of white characters on a red background showed some bleed.
It was in the middle of the pack for colour photographic quality, although it excelled in our monochrome photographic test. In terms of quality it was hard to make a distinction between it and the Samsung.
If you have a home office where a printer will be shared, the Samsung is the better choice, thanks to its wired networking.
The 1650EN is pricier than the Samsung to buy outright, but thanks to the availability of a 3-colour toner value pack ($267) the costs stay reasonable. The Konica has its strengths, but none of them comes close to giving it the edge over the Brother.