Friday, November 07, 2008

Samsung CLX-2160 Color Laser MFU

After a long research online, and an unsuccessful attempt to start a good cooperation with the Canon local store, I was compelled to abandon my plan of getting a Canon MF4140 unit and continue my search for a good multifunctional unit. My requirements were that it should be a laser printer with scanner and a built in duplexing unit. For the requirements, the Canon MF4140 was perfect. BUT, the authorized dealer offered an insultingly poor customer service.
After the bad experience, I reviewed the requirements for my new MFU, and was convinced by the Samsung CLX 2160, that I actually do not have to have a duplexing unit, and that I can trade auto duplexing for the option of color printouts. So, the long search of a laser printer ended. I settled for a color laser printer with a built in scanner, with no network card, and no duplexing unit.

The Samsung CLX-2160 is a solidly built machine, weighting almost 17kg, and measures approximately 350x350x400mm. It is actually quite large, and I don't understand why Samsung opted for a semi-open paper tray. This is probably the only design feature I do not like on this printer. Other than this, it is a nicely designed piece of equipment. The colors are soothing but not too boring, and it is a nice item to put on your desk, that is, if your desk can handle its weight and size.

The CLX-2160 theoretically prints 16ppm b/w, and 4ppm color. This of course means that it is a multipass color printer, but a very quiet one. Actually, the only sensible difference between a color and grayscale printing is that the sheet comes out a bit later than a grayscale print. There is no extra noise, no extra clicks, which is very good if you use the printer next by. The speed of grayscale printing is OK. Not to slow, not super fast. This is of course, a matter of choice. For the 220 euros it costs, we should not expect a ninja. Compared to my previous, theoretical choice of the Canon MF4140, which prints 30ppm, the Samsung really is slow, but it offers something that no fast and affordable MFU can- COLOR printouts.
The color printouts, contrary to many reviews I read, is impressive. The colors are saturated, resolution is very good and there are no noticeable inconsistencies in the color distribution. Of course, it is not as good as a photo printer, but it will definitely do the job if you want to print some pictures, color graphics, and of course, black text. Feed a photo paper to it you may even be surprised of the quality color printouts.
Another cool feature is the option to print directly off your USB stick. The USB port is conveniently positioned so it will not be in the way during printing. You can also scan directly to the USB stick without the assistance of a PC. The LCD and the control panel are easy enough to handle, but I would like to see an option of scanning directly to the PC by simply pressing a button on the control panel. In order to access the scanner, you will have to use the program that comes with the printer drivers. It is not a bad program, but it would be better if Samsung figured out a way to have the scanner detectable as a separate piece of hardware. Nevertheless, it definitely does the job, and it is faster than my Epson Perfection 1620 which I bought for 180 euros a few years ago.

As many other printers, Samsung also ships this unit with starter toners. The specified capacity of 1500 copies in 5% coverage did not come true for me. Perhaps due to my combined printing of text and graphics. I printed out about 700 pages when the printer stopped printing and asked for a new toner. With a bit of playing around I managed to squeeze out another 100 pages of text and graphics. When I come to think of it, I did not save a lot of money with it, as a replacement toner with a capacity of 3000 pages costs about 40 euros. The color toners also are starter toners, and specified to last about 1000 pages. I give them a lifespan of no more than 700 pages. When time comes to replace them, it is a very easy task. The toners are color coded, and also made in such a way that even if you are color blind, you will never fit a cyan toner into a magenta slot because the toner boxes have plastic "sticks" which prevent any mistakes. This is a smart move from Samsung. Changing the toners is a simple pull-out, push-in deal. It literally takes seconds to replace a toner. Their price is good because there are no rollers or gears on the toners. They are simple plastic cylinders, only containers for the expensive dust. The printing mechanism is designed to last for about 30-40.000 copies, which in my opinion, is more than enough for several years of printing in a small office or home environment.
The printing experience, when printing double sided, can be frustrating if the paper is wet. I had to scrap some double sided printouts as the printer pulled in several sheets at once, and messed up the order of pages. Once I placed a brand new stack of paper, it worked perfectly. It can print hundreds and hundreds of pages... but it can only print 150 at a time as Samsung designed a small paper tray for this printer. For a multifunctional unit that even comes with optional network card, a paper tray of only 150 pages is really a joke... and not a funny one if you want to print a lot. But again, the price helps to put a blind eye to these inconveniences.
In summary, the Samsung CLX 2160 will not knock you off your feet with its speed, functionality, quietness or capacity. But for the 200 euros it costs it is deffinitely a very good choice, and a wise investment. You will definitely not find a better option in the color laser segment. It's good looks, the relative ease of use and cheap consumables make this unit a best buy for anybody who wants an all in one cheap laser printer. The color option with the CLX 2160 literally comes for free, as there are printers with the same functionality, same price, and only offer fast grayscale printouts, like the Canon MF4140.
I recommend this unit for home and small office use.

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Anonymous said...

What's the difference between this device and Xerox 6110mfp? The engine is the same...

Igor Mateski said...

The differences depend on the distribution/service network. In some regions there might be no difference, while in Croatia, Samsung has an impressive distribution network and a more reliable service network. When I did the research I didn't find any MFU color laser units from Xerox.
At the conceptual level, I prefer using a mechanism with its native surroundings (Electronics, software etc), because I see it as an advantage that all components in the MFU is designed by the same company. In our case, I'd pitch in with Samsung because it's their engine. I've read that Xerox has some software problems ( while my Samsung is flawlessly obedient.
To summarize, Xerox may slack in some areas in comparison to Samsung due to the distribution/service network. Conceptually, it's better to have a device with all its components developed by the same company, which proves to be correct on the software level as Xerox has some issues, while Samsung does not. The price as I've seen is higher for the Xerox for at least $100.