Canon's Laser Shot LBP 3100B is one of three popular options in the budget mono laser printer market, along with the similarly priced HL-2140 from Brother and HP's more expensive LaserJet P1005. With a printing speed that surpasses the HP and rivals Brother's printer, the LBP 3100B certainly provides competition in the market. However, some odd design choices have been made by Canon.
Canon has chosen a black design for the LBP 3100B, a colour usually reserved for home-based consumer printers rather than lasers targeted at businesses. Still, the printer's unusual attractiveness is marred by one piece of design — its paper output tray. Where most printer manufacturers opt for a retractable sliver of plastic big enough to support A4 paper, the LBP 3100B features an unsightly piece of opaque black plastic that spans the printer's entire width. Sitting at an odd and impractical 45-degree angle, the paper output tray is a clear marker of bad design, and most users are likely to simply remove the tray rather than use it.
There are some practical inclusions, however. A clever input design allows users to choose whether to have a single or dual input tray, effectively allowing them to double paper capacity and use two different forms of media. Unfortunately, there's no way to switch between the trays — the printer's software automatically determines which tray has paper and uses it.
As with the LaserJet P1005, toner replacement is a two-step process — lift the paper output tray and insert the toner. This is much easier accomplished with the tray itself removed. It's possible to replace the toner while sitting down; there's no need to stand over the printer. Unfortunately, Canon has opted to ship the LBP 3100B with a reduced-capacity starter toner cartridge, which means users will have to purchase replacement toner soon after getting the printer. However, the LBP 3100B costs a commendable 5.9c per page during typical printing.
The LBP 3100B forgoes tradition in terms by abandoning draft, normal and high quality settings in favour of a single 600dpi setting. Canon suggests that the printer produces an equivalent resolution of 2400dpi, but in reality it is outdone by both the HL-2140 and P1005. The printer manages a decent average print speed of 16.6 pages per minute. After fiddling with some of the advanced settings, we managed to make it print at 18.75ppm. These speeds are admirable, and although they don't surpass the HL-2140's 20ppm they outdo the P1005's relatively dismal speed of 15ppm.
Printing quality is clean but slightly inaccurate — while the P1005's printing is darker than the HL-2140, the LBP 3100B is darker again. The result is slightly bolded lettering, which may or may not be a deterrent to businesses, depending on the nature of their printing. It won't make any difference for educational printing, but if precise accuracy is the highest of priorities, the LBP 3100B isn't the best choice.