Samsung CLP-500

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  • Review Price: £469.00

The dear departed Douglas Adams once stated that printer manufacturers such as Xerox aren’t in the business of selling printers, but instead they are in the business of selling toner cartridges, which means that they, incidentally, first have to sell you a printer.


Well, Samsung illustrates this point nicely with its CLP-500 colour laser printer that retails for less than £500 including VAT. The four starter toner cartridges are rated at 2,000 sheets K and 1,500 sheets for CMY, and then you need to head for the shops and buy a new set of cartridges which will cost you £340 inc VAT. The new toner cartridges are rated 7,000 pages for black and 5,000 pages for CMY but even so, ouch.


Hit 50,000 pages of use and you’ll be fitting a new belt transfer unit at £100 and a new OPC drum at £135, raising costs to 7p per page if you do lots of colour printing. While we’re on the subject of cost, this model isn’t network enabled. The CLP-500N will cost you £600 inc VAT and for the extra money you get a 10/100 BaseT network adapter. If you want to upgrade the CLP-500 that we’re testing here to be network ready, the 10/100 BaseT card costs £194 inc VAT, so you may as well go the whole hog and spend £234 for a network adapter that also includes WiFi.


It’s a strange fact that we’re still willing to pay a fortune for proprietary upgrades and extras, but it seems absurd that the network feature adds so much to the cost of a printer when these sorts of controllers are effectively free of charge on most motherboards.


If you feel the need to perform an upgrade, a hatch on the back of the printer hides a metal cover, and under that is the connection point for a network adapter as well as a memory expansion slot. Given the cost of upgrades, it comes as a surprise that Samsung includes duplex as a basic feature and doesn’t charge a premium for that too.


We found the CLP-500 quick and easy to unpack and set up, although there is a surprising amount of assembly work required. Once we had unpacked the box we had to insert the four toner trays in the left hand side, and then drop the imaging unit and transfer belt in the top of the printer. Everything is usefully colour coded, however initially we managed to only lock one of the two belt transfer unit levers and the printer reported a specific error message on the LCD display. After we fixed the problem the error message persisted until we cycled the power.


Installing the printer on our Windows XP PC using USB 2.0 was quick and simple, but we were annoyed to see that Samsung doesn’t include a cable with this Parallel and USB 2.0 printer to get you up and running. Granted different offices require different cabling, but surely a five metre USB 2.0 cable would cost Samsung peanuts.


We were almost ready to test the CLP-500, but the printer drivers installed the printer to LPT1, instead of the USB port. Once we had corrected this issue the test print rattled off and we were ready.


Our first test of 5% coverage mono printing started well enough, but almost immediately the printer jammed. This was the only jam that we suffered but it was educational as you have to effectively gut the printer to clear the jam. The top cover cannot be opened on its own. Instead you have to open the left cover, pull the K toner cartridge out a couple of inches, and then you can open the top cover, giving you access to the transfer belt unit. Once that is out of the way you can fish out the errant sheet of paper. The whole process takes about a minute from start to finish, but it seems a little involved. Having said that, jammed paper has nowhere to hide once you open the printer up, so the design of the CLP-500 has both pros and cons.