Samsung CLX-6210FX

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The Samsung CLX-6210FX is a colour laser all-in-one printer that offers a great feature set at a very reasonable price, but with slow duplex printing.

There is nothing new about multifunction devices in the IT industry — but the degree of integration and connectivity does vary markedly. Printers with direct USB printing are available as are multifunction devices (MFDs) with the ability to fax, copy and scan. How about an MFD which supports scanning to a USB device (in a variety of formats) and printing from the same USB device? The Samsung CLX-6210FX offers all of the features in one compact package.

Test Procedure
In assessing a printer we consider its print speed, print quality, ease of use, and construction. Being an MFD we will also consider copying/scanning quality and usability.

Speed: Documents are used to assess peak machine speed (printing plain, monochrome text at 5 per cent coverage) and also average machine speed (files with images and a variety of fonts and colours) in both colour and monochrome mode. Duplex copying speed is also measured.

Quality: Files are printed and assessed against hardcopies used in all our printer testing. Graphics and photos are assessed for quality of colour, contrast, graduated shades/hues, line fineness and positioning, and also handling of colour boundaries.

Construction: We look at the quality of the engineering in terms of design and implementation.

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Ease of use: We judge the usability of the product, including quality of documentation and menu function.

Design and Features
This neat multifunction printer sports a flatbed scanner with duplex auto document feeder as well as facsimile and copier functions. Connectivity to your computer is via USB or network. Data can also be transferred to and from the machine directly with a memory key. The unit also supports automatic duplex printing/copying.

Samsung claims a monthly duty cycle of up to 65,000 pages per month (five to six reams of paper a day). The basic unit has a tray capacity of 250 pages, but a second 500-sheet tray option is available. Having a maximum paper size of A4/Letter, for an MFD it is a fairly compact unit which would fit on a relatively small desk area.

The quick set-up guide is extremely minimalistic, so if you haven't set up a network printer before you might want to go straight to the user guide disc. Nonetheless, set up was straightforward apart from a couple of small hiccups — such as messages saying that the printer could not be found and that IP addresses could not be reset. These were not serious issues since the messages were untrue — the installation software was doing everything required. Most annoying was the fact that the details of the printer found by the software bore no apparent relation to the details printed on the machine itself.

In assessing the performance of this machine as a printer, our first reaction was to note the extremely vivid colours (probably too vivid actually). Our second reaction was to note some rather significant dither patterns particularly where dark colours and browns were present. Greyscales and colour gradients are generally very smooth, but are subject to fine horizontal and vertical lines which can give the impression of very fine pixellation. The CLX-6210FX excellently handled colours at the boundaries of complex shapes with reasonable contrast handling.

Printing speeds were generally adequate, though duplex printing was slow due to the machine only having a single paper path. We can confirm Samsung's claims of a peak printing speed of 20 pages per minute and the fact that colour printing does not appreciably change copy speed. We measured an average print speed of 14.6ppm (pages per minute) for monochrome and 14.5ppm for colour prints. The peak printing speed for duplexed documents was only 8.4ppm. Some printers can duplex almost as fast as they print single-sided documents.

Of course, this is more than just a printer so we also had a look at scanning and copying features. When copying an image, the output was a little grainy and the colours cool, but the image was otherwise excellent and quickly produced. When setting the copier to "photo" mode, the copy resolution goes up from 600dpi to 1,200dpi, which resulted in great colour and contrast. We can certainly recommend this machine as a colour photocopier.

As a scanner, we were less impressed with its performance. We had little success scanning over a network and so decided to try out the scan to USB feature. In terms of usability this was great, but default settings did not provide us with brilliant output. Using the same image we used for copying, we scanned it to a USB memory device and then performed a direct print from this saved file. Compared to the earlier copy, this print was much too warm and had much poorer contrast. Resolution was also poorer, but this was mainly due to a lower default resolution (300dpi). A wide range of adjustment options are available for scanning.

Verdict

We found the 6210FX convenient to use. The menu system on the unit is intuitive and basic functions are readily accessible via well labelled and arranged buttons.

Printing speed is generally reasonable, although duplex printing is slow. Streaking and dither patterns can detract from the otherwise very attractive printed output. The machine is capable of great print and copy resolutions (up to 1,200dpi).

If printing in black and white, the price of consumables works out to be around 2.63 cents per page (excluding paper and electricity). In our experience this is a mid-range figure for running costs. (Consumable prices were taken from www.elitefax.com.au.) Naturally, colour printing does increase running costs somewhat — colour toner for this machine costs about 50 per cent more per page.

Samsung provides a one-year warranty on this product with on-site service. The company's website provides FAQs, knowledgebase and downloads for manuals and drivers. Priced at AU$999 this hardworking machine is a great document creation and handling device at a very reasonable price.

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