We ran our text tests on the standard print quality setting of 600dpi, although we also carried out one photo printing test using the 1,200dpi ‘best quality’ setting. Unlike inkjet photo printers, a colour laser printer is likely to spend its working life churning out pages of mono text and coloured handouts, such as PowerPoint presentations. The colour has to look good and eye catching but photo-realism isn’t really the priority. To that extent the Samsung did a surprisingly good job in all our tests.
We started with 50 pages of 5% coverage mono text. The first page dropped after 17 seconds, and the test completed after three minutes and five seconds with a noticeable pause in printing at page nine. That’s an average of 16ppm, compared to the claimed figure of 20ppm.
Mixed output includes mono screen grabs and grey scales, but no colour. This time the first page dropped after 16 seconds and 50 pages took four minutes 22 seconds to complete. Once again there was a pause in printing which we timed at over a minute, and that dropped the average to a little over 11ppm.
Next we printed 50 pages of an Acrobat PDF which was mostly mono and grey scales, but it also included small colour images. The first page took 27 seconds, with all 50 pages taking eight minutes and 35 seconds, averaging just under 6ppm.
Colour output is more tricky to measure as there are so many different ways that companies can choose to use it. We ran off some PowerPoint slides with bright coloured backgrounds, which we timed at a little over 3ppm, and finally we ran off two A4 photos. At 600dpi the first photo took 27 seconds and at 1,200dpi the second photo took 46 seconds.
In all cases the quality of the mono text was as good as we could ask for, with crisp clear edges, but of course this quality really ought to be inherent in any modern laser printer. We had rather mixed views on the quality of the colour prints. There is no doubt that the 1,200dpi output looked better than 600dpi, but even so it wasn’t perfect. The issue was colour control and the way that the pixels were dithered. Individually each page was perfectly acceptable, but if you compared the printed output to the original image you could usually spot differences. We feel this would be OK for the vast majority of office printing, but if you intend to print out colour samples or swatches we doubt the CLP-500 is the printer for you.
Our single biggest reservation is the high cost of running this printer if you expect to print many pages each month, particularly if you use colour. On the other hand, if you want a colour laser printer with a low initial price and you don’t have a heavy duty cycle then the Samsung CLP-500 could be just what you need.