Ok so at my last job, rather than have a single monster machine networked that everyone used (or one per floor), most everyone had a printer of some kind on their desk. This gave me the chance to work with a lot of different models and brands, almost all of them laser printers. Here are my thoughts:
Samsung: Very good overall, some of the least problems and most consistent operation. I'd probably give the nod to Samsung for the best of the brands we had. We had a number of older Samsungs that outlasted newer purchases from e.g. Brother. I also have a Samsung at home that's been pretty good. Fairly low volume, but still haven't had to replace the toner in maybe 2 years.
Brother: Good printers overall, some jamming and streaking issues, definitely "disposable" oriented. We had a few with problems and ultimately ended up just scrapping them - repair cost wasn't worth it. Mind you we bought more Brothers than almost anything else so they were bound to crap out in higher numbers (though I don't think a higher *percentage* did).
HP: Not bad, though they used to be a lot better. We didn't buy many of them, the few we had weren't outstanding (although not miserable either). I have the same complaints about bloated drivers and whatnot though.
Xerox: Only minimal experience, was ok, but honestly I don't think they compete much in the consumer space anymore.
Canon: Really the best for inkjet when you factor in speed and quality. This is both from work and personal experience. I recently got a Canon MP640 multifunction and couldn't be happier. It's fully networked so I can print and *scan* from any computer on my home network. Very slick.
Which leads me to: Wifi in printers is NOT a gimmick! There are a few reasons why.
First, many printers still do not include basic network (RJ45) support, so to get them on a network you need to either buy a print server (more expensive than the added cost of wifi in a printer these days - it's come down a lot the last year or so), or you have to hav them connected to a computer that's always on. Add to that my experience with the best wireless print server I could find - which is not very good - and I have to say the native wifi experience is MUCH better.
Second, when a manufacturer builds wifi in instead of relying on connection to a PC or a print server, they tend to tailor the functionality to working nicely across the network. My Canon MP640 is a fantastic example. Scanning across the network is just like scanning locally. I can open up a scan app from my laptop on wifi and scan just like I would on my desktop. Alternatively I can go to the unit itself and scan something and send it to any machine on the network with the driver installed. The UI is pretty slick and everything works fast. Win!
Third, the cost of wifi added to printers these days is generally not that much. Here's an example:The Samsung ML-2525
(no wireless) - $119Samsung ML-2525W
(wireless included) - $139
That tends to hold up in the consumer space pretty well, i.e. moving into the inkjet realm, you might see a $10-$20 difference on a ~$100 for adding wifi. A larg proportion of the Canon MFC line just comes with wireless now by default. I think more manufacturers are probably going that route, and it's just fine with me.
Finally, wireless is actually quite useful if you do want to share a printer with a household or small work group, and want freedom in where to position the thing. Not near a network port and don't want to string a cable over to it? No problem!
Really, for the small added cost, wireless is *great*.