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Finding a new colour laser printer at around £160 is something that catches our attention. Although prices of colour lasers have been dropping fast over the last couple of years, this has largely been through companies pitching the price of heavier-weight printers very low and making it up on consumable costs. The CLP-300 is a different case, as the machine appears to have been designed from the ground up as a low-cost, colour laser printer.
Looking much like many personal, mono laser printers, the CLP-300 has a conventional cuboid design, with a 150-sheet multipurpose tray projecting from the bottom of the front panel. Printed pages feed out to the indented top surface and a fold-out paper support is needed to stop pages sliding off the front.
It's when you pull down the front cover to reveal the print mechanism that you see where the majority of the new design comes in. There are four cylindrical toner containers, each about the size of a small tube of Pringles, which slide into the front of the photoconductor unit. Each is colour-coded and will only fit into its own socket. At the left-hand end is a shaped, toner waste bottle. Both this and the photoconductor unit are consumables, as well as the tubes of toner.
The control panel consists of four toner indicators and a single status light, which shows when the printer is available and online. A round, orange button stops the current print job. At the back, a single USB socket connects the printer to your PC; the N version of the CLP-300, which costs around £50 more, includes an Ethernet socket, too.
Set up consists of slotting in the four toner cartridges, connecting a USB cable – unusually, you connect it before installing the driver – and printing a test page. There's no default colour calibration, though you can switch on colour match settings based on perceptual, saturation or colourimetric models.
Other than the printer driver, there's little support software. The bundled copy of Corel's Paint Shop Pro X would be a good extra, if it were more than a 30-day trial of the software.
To keep things simple, the printer uses a carousel engine, which means that each colour is built up on the same drum, which has to be loaded four times before a colour page can be printed. When printing black text, there's only one drum load and the claimed 16ppm is not too far off what we saw. Our five-page text document completed in 32 seconds, giving just under 10ppm.