The four-pass colour engine is rated at 4ppm for colour and 16ppm for black print. Under test we saw our five-page text document complete in 31 seconds giving it a real-world print speed of just under 10ppm, while the colour text and graphics document took one minute 26 seconds, equivalent to around 3.5ppm. Samsungs speed claims are therefore less hyped than many and while this is no sprinter, it’s reasonably quick for its price.
The quality of prints from the CLX-2160N is poor. It's reasonable on text, which is readable, although it’s over-thick. Colour graphics are bright and the colours are dense, but they all look fuzzy, with little sharp detail. Black text over coloured backgrounds almost look as if the text has run, though of course with solid toner, that's not possible.
The colour copy we produced from the machine was substantially worse than the original, with blotchy solid colours and considerably lighter tones. Our photographic test picture suffers from a comparatively small colour gamut, so colours look too bright and cartoony, but there was no noticeable banding and surprisingly good detail in shadows.
The ID Copy function suffers from the colour copy problems, and also manages to slice of the edges of the card if you, quite reasonably, line the card up with the positioning arrow in the top left-hand corner of the scanner glass.
The consumables for this machine are the four toner drums, an imaging unit and the waste toner bottle. Running through the page cost calculations produces a 5 per cent black text page cost of 2.77p and a 20 per cent colour page cost of 11.03p. This sits it towards the lower end of pricings in the colour category but rather high in the cost of its black print.
The CLX-2160N is small, easy to maintain and reasonably cheap to run and it costs less than most other laser-based, all-in-one devices. Unfortunately, it's let down by its print quality, particularly in colour. Since this is the main reason for buying a printing device, we can't really recommend this Samsung MFP, particularly if you want reasonable copies from it.