- Review Price: £236.00
Samsung was a latecomer to the laser printer market, compared with the likes of Canon, HP and Lexmark, but the price/performance ratio of both its monochrome and colour printers has earned it a deserved section of the business market. The CLP-510 is a high-end personal printer or a low-end workgroup one, at a price that should be affordable for anyone who needs a colour laser.
This is a substantial printer, more like a desktop photocopier in size and weight and it sits sideways on the desktop like most photocopiers, too. Its control panel lies along one of its longer sides, the paper tray takes sheets up to A4 in landscape mode and the front cover flips down like a copier, if you need to attend to paper jams – we didn’t.
As well as a 16 character LCD display, alas with no backlight, there’s a miniature diagram of the CLP-510, complete with inset LEDs, to indicate any possible faults. This diagram shows a second, optional paper tray sitting beneath the machine and this tray can hold 500 sheets, to supplement the 250-sheet standard tray and a 100-sheet multi-purpose tray, which folds down from the right-hand side.
The printer – which has a native resolution of 600dpi, doubled through software enhancement – also includes duplex printing as standard, so the only other options you can add are extra memory, taking it up from the 64MB already fitted, and an optional network card, which can be either straight Ethernet or Ethernet and WiFi.
To set the printer up physically, you need to install seven different consumables. A cover folds down from the left-hand side to reveal the four toner cartridges and there’s an interlock between this cover and one on the top of the machine, which gives access to the transfer belt and imaging unit. Finally, the front cover provides access to a waste toner bottle. All these consumables have different service lives, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the printer’s duty cycle to keep replacements in.
The only PC connection provided as standard is a USB 2.0 port and, unusually, you connect this up before installing the Windows software driver. The driver is comprehensive, including selections for multiple pages per sheet, various duplex modes, watermarks and overlays. There’s quite subtle manual adjustment for colour rendition, too, though no attempt to conform to standard colour systems, such as Pantone. You could fiddle for hours to tailor the printer to your needs.
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.
Score in detail
Print Speed 8
Print Quality 7