Samsung CLX-2160N review

£244
Price when reviewed

Samsung claims its CLX-2160N is the world’s smallest multifunction colour laser. And it can’t be far from the truth, as we haven’t seen anything of this size before, making it ideal for small businesses and home offices.

Samsung CLX-2160N review

Coming in at less than £250, the CLX-2160N certainly looks good value, especially as this includes a network print server. You get a reasonable 16ppm print speed for mono and a more modest 4ppm for colour, and the chassis incorporates a 1,200dpi colour scanner. The small paper tray at the base has room for only 150 sheets, and when packed with A4 it extends a further 9cm out the front.

Alas, in the quest for minimalism, there’s always a price to pay and this is revealed in the average output quality. Text is quite clear even at small font sizes, but in testing it suffered from a smearing effect where some of the toner didn’t appear to be adhering to the paper properly. This was even more noticeable where large areas of bright colour were adjacent to darker areas: our colour performance charts showed blocks of yellow had an unsightly dusting of black toner over the top. Nevertheless, colour photographs were handled quite well for such a low-cost device, with our tests showing good colour balance, although there’s no discernable difference between the normal and best driver settings.

The Samsung delivers in the speed stakes, however, with the printer churning out a 16-page basic Word document in a tidy 58 seconds. Our 24-page DTP-style document was also handled as efficiently, with its mix of colour charts, graphics and photographs dropping into the output slot at the front of the printer in 5mins 45 secs; that’s an average of 4.2ppm.

Printing costs are on the high side with the combination of toner, image drum and waste bottle returning a mono page for a shade under 2p. With colour, the drum and waste bottle don’t offer the same longevity as for mono prints, and a page using equal amounts of K, Y, M and C toners will set you back a hefty 10.2p. Samsung is another vendor that engages in the debatable practice of shipping the printer with starter cartridges, so initial print costs will be even higher.

Installation is handled sweetly, as the setup utility hunts down the printer on the network and then gets on with loading all the necessary drivers and bundled OCR and print-monitoring software. The tidy web interface keeps you well informed on consumable levels and provides full access to all printer and network settings. The USB slot supports direct printing from inserted devices, as the printer scans them and displays their contents in the LCD panel, where you select the file and the number of copies you want. You can also scan documents directly to a USB device and, although output quality for the scanner is uninspiring, at this price you won’t get much better.

Samsung has done a good job of packing so many features into such a small chassis and delivering them at a low price. Print speeds are on the money, although this is marred by average output quality and high printing costs.

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