Pantum P3012DW review | PCMag

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The Pantum P3012DW is sufficiently low-priced – $ 139.99 or less from retailers like Amazon, although the company says there is no list price – to define it as a simple entry-level monochrome laser printer, but it offers a lot more than you might expect. It offers more connectivity than the HP Neverstop Laser 1001nw and Lexmark MS431dw, both of which are Editors’ Choice Award winners and also more expensive. The Pantum also offers automatic duplex printing, which the HP lacks, along with a higher paper capacity. The cost per page is slightly higher than usual and significantly higher than Neverstop, but whether this is a problem depends on how many pages you want to print. For a small, low-volume office, the P3012DW might just be what you need.


Mostly simple setup, many connection options

An up and coming Chinese company, Pantum isn’t a particularly well-known brand, but their printers have been around since 2010. We tested and liked a Pantum laser printer back in 2013, and the company has a solid place in the budget mono laser market. This is another strong entry in his portfolio of personal laser printers.

These types of printers are usually easy to set up because they are small and only require one toner cartridge. This applies mainly to the P3012DW, although the printer drum is separate from the toner and is not in the same cartridge. To set up the machine, remove a compartment that contains both the drum and the toner cartridge, peel a protective film from the drum, remove the toner cartridge from the compartment, pull on a plastic tab that holds the toner in place during shipping , and then click into place Reinstall the cartridge and reinsert the tray into the printer.

You can place the P3012DW almost anywhere you want; At 9.1 x 13.9 x 13.1 inches (HWD) and weighing 15 pounds, it’s small enough to share your desk. However, you can move it to another location in your office and easily connect it via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi Direct. There’s also a USB port and NFC support for mobile devices. The control panel in the upper right front corner consists of a two-line LCD, two status lights and a few buttons for navigating through the menus.

The printer’s single paper tray holds up to 250 sheets of letter or legal size paper, making it suitable for most home offices and workgroups of one to three people. A single-sheet multipurpose tray lets you load letterhead or other specialty media without changing the paper in the cassette.

The Pantum’s recommended monthly print cycle is 750 to 3,500 pages, but if you regularly print more than about 1,000 pages per month (about 50 per business day), refilling the tray can quickly become a chore. Also note that the estimated cost per side of the printer with the high capacity cartridge installed is 2.8 cents, compared to, for example, 1.8 cents for the Lexmark MS431dw. If you only want to print 20,000 pages over the life of the printer, the savings of one cent per page will more than make up for the Lexmark’s higher purchase price.

Pantum P3012DW front view with paper drawer

For this test, I connected the P3012DW via Ethernet. Driver installation was simple and old-fashioned, that is, Pantum provides the drivers and installation routine on a CD (although the quick setup guide also includes instructions on how to download the software from the company’s website). The one-click setup routine simply prompts you to choose between a USB, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet connection.


Problems printing from mobile apps

You can also print from a mobile device by connecting via Wi-Fi or, if there is no shared network, using Wi-Fi Direct. Unfortunately, I found the mobile printing setup more problematic than the PC equivalent. A separate user guide for mobile printing tells you how to download the required app, then instructs you to print out a Wi-Fi wizard page and use the app to scan a QR code on it. But it doesn’t tell you how to print the page (the answer available in an online video is to press a Wi-Fi button on the front).

Pantum P3012DW one-click setup

I managed to establish a Wi-Fi Direct connection even without instructions, which proved that the mobile printing feature works and can be useful once you know you need to press the Wi-Fi button to set it up. As mentioned earlier, the printer also supports NFC for devices running Android 4.4 and above, but Pantum says it won’t work with all Android 11 devices. When I tried to use it with my Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G, it worked to the point that the mobile app would automatically start on the phone when I touched the latter with the NFC tag, but the connection required for printing could not be established will.


Decent speed, good text quality

At 32 pages per minute (ppm), the P3012DW proved to be only slightly slower than its more expensive competition in our tests. When we printed our 12-page Microsoft Word file, it was an average of 24.8 pages / min.

When printing our entire suite of business documents, the Pantum ran at 17.9 pages per minute, which was 2.6 to 5.1 pages per minute slower than most of its competitors, but slightly faster than the HP Neverstop 1001nw. It took an average of 9 seconds to print our 4×6 inch photos.

Pantum P3012DW low angle view

The output quality varied from admirable for text to mediocre for graphics and photos. The text had clear, clean edges and was legible even at 4 points for fonts likely to be used in business documents, while one of the two heavily stylized, heavy-dashed fonts that we are testing was legible at 8 points. The other font, which is more difficult to render, has closed the space within and between the characters, making anything smaller than 12 point text difficult to read.

As for photos and graphics, I would rate the P3012DW’s quality as good enough to convey an image clearly but not good enough to give to an important client or client. Thin lines were lost or broken, and both graphics and photos showed streaking, uneven pile height in dark fillings, and easily visible trembling patterns.


A potentially strong contender

The Pantum P3012DW has a great deal starting at a lower price than most other personal lasers. It’s a little slower than most, but you probably won’t notice unless you’re printing long documents. It’s more limited than most of the printers mentioned here because of its relatively small paper capacity (with no optional slots or drawers for expansion) and a higher cost per page.

If your print volume is more than moderate, take a look at the HP LaserJet Pro M404dn, Lexmark B3442dw, or B3340dw, or the Editors’ Choice Award winning Lexmark MS431dw. The choice between them largely depends on how much you want to print and how that affects the total cost of ownership. If you get by with manual duplexing rather than automatic duplexing and a single 150-sheet input tray, consider another Editors’ Choice winner, the HP Neverstop Laser 1001nw. It was the slowest in this group in our tests, but its cost per page is an incredibly low 0.3 cents, which can save you hundreds of dollars over its lifespan. However, if you need a little more capacity than the Neverstop and are not printing enough pages to worry about the running costs, the Pantum might be the right choice.

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