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This is an inline printer, where each toner colour is applied over the last on a photosensitive drum, before being transferred to the paper in one pass. The technique is quicker than a carousel device, so the claimed draft speeds of 24ppm for black and 6ppm for colour are plausible.
When we ran our own tests, though, for normal print (how many people use draft mode, regularly) we saw 11.5ppm for our five-page, black text test and around 2.7ppm for a mixed text and graphics page.
The print quality is rather odd. Some text, particularly in san serif fonts, looks dense and black, but rather too thick, almost as if there were shadows between letters in close print. This usually means some sort of toner spatter, but when we looked at a text page under a magnifying loupe, there was no sign of this. Instead, we saw a slightly smoothed edge to the characters, but nothing untoward.
Graphics colours are clear and solid, a little over-bright, but good for business diagrams and PowerPoint slides. Photographic reproduction is not so hot, with overemphasised blues and reds, giving that ‘hand-touched, Victorian photo’ look. There's plenty of detail in the images, though.
The printer may only cost £240 or so, but a set of replacement toner cartridges will set you back £185 every 2,000-3,000 pages, or £300 every £5,000-7,000 pages, with the high capacity equivalents. Add in a proportion of the cost of the transfer belt and imaging unit and you’re getting very close to the point where it’s cheaper to buy a new CLP-510 every time the toner runs out. Don’t go there.
When you work out the running costs per page, you find that the Samsung machine, in fact, compares well with its peers. A five per cent black page costs just under 1.9p and a 20 per cent colour page scrapes in at just under 8p.
When you look at the price of the CLP-510 and then consider its feature set, it appears you're getting much more for your money than with rival colour lasers. You get duplex as standard, a multi-purpose tray (by no means standard on its competitors), inline printing, a comprehensive driver and reasonable running costs. While print quality, particularly for colour photos, is not market-leading, as a general purpose office colour machine, it takes a lot of beating.