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Samsung's CLP300 Colour Laser printer Review

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Samsung CLP300 Colour Laser Printer Review

Billed as "The world's smallest and lightest color laser printer" the Samsung CLP300 is in fact (for now) the only laser printer who can make such a claim. So now that we have established this fact why do we care and why would we wish to purchase this printer.

Size does matter!
I previously had a Monochrome laser the HP 1020 and this rather diminutive printer fit rather nicely on a shelf right next to my Xbox, when I purchased the HP 1020 I looked carefully at the colour lasers but they were rather large and pricey so I went with the old standby monochrome laser. I was looking for a small footprint colour laser printer for around $300 and the closet I saw was the HP LaserJet 2600n it has very similar specifications to the samsung but was to tall to fit the space requirements left by the HP 1020. I was considering some placement options and I decided to check what www.staples.ca had in stock when I noticed the Samsung CLP300 it was listed at $349.99 and when I went to the local staples to purchase the unit it was not even on display, the clerk who helped me had to find the unit in the warehouse after actually confirming it existed, apparently it was a new product a none of the clerks even knew it was available.

Perfect fit!
The Samsung weighs in at 30lbs and the dimensions are 15.4" wide by 13.5" deep and 10.4" high if your 're familiar with the size of an Xbox then just stack them 3 high and they pretty well take the same space as this printer. In comparison the 2600n is 16.1" wide by 14.6" deep and 17.8" high and it weighs in at 40.5lbs (click photo to enlarge).

  Introducing the world's smallest and lightest color laser printer, the new CLP-300. This space-saving, easily movable printer delivers beautiful color at 4 ppm and sharp laser text at 17 ppm, The same exclusive NO NOIS print engine found in our professional series color printers gives you quiet operation and simple toner changes. The CLP-300 color laser printer. Small and light. With the big color you are looking for.

• Print speeds 17 ppm black, 4 ppm color
• First page out in less than 14 seconds
• Up to 2400 x 600 dpi effective output
• 150 sheets input, 100 sheets output
• Duty cycle up to 24,200 pages per month
• Exclusive NO NOIS™ print engine for easy toner changes and quiet operation
• High-speed USB 2.0
• Compatible with Windows, Macintosh, Linux

Slow is relative.....
Hey guess what, this printer is slower that other colour lasers!
Being a four-pass printer, the CLP-300 takes four times as long to print a colour page as it does a black and white one, so while black and white pages pop out at a 17ppm (pages per minute), colour ones slow down to, 4ppm, which apparently is quite slow, the first page out time is 26 seconds when printing in colour. The Samsung CLP300 will not win any races based on it's printing speed but all things being relative you buy this printer for the small size not it's speed!

Menu's and buttons (or lack of)
Pretty well all printers made these days have ditched all controls and moved them to the host computer so it comes as no surprise to me that you get one LED indicator for each toner colour, a stop button and a changing-colour status LED. All other printer communication takes place through the Samsung's driver software. Should a paper jam occur, instructions also appear via a pop-up, note that removing printed sheets before the job is completed could trip the paper jam sensor, leaving you to clear the false jam before the printer will continue the job.

  When the printer starts the LED's for each colour cycle through as the printer runs a self-check on the toner levels and whenever a particular toner is low that LED will stay on until the toner is replaced, the software does indicate the actual toner levels but I'm not sure on the accuracy of the reported toner levels as I haven't had to replace one yet. I assume the Stop button is exactly for that purpose but I haven't tested it yet!

Toner Toner where art thou?
In a printer of such small proportions there’s not a lot of room for toner - and the CLP-300’s toner cartridges are really tiny. The black cartridge is the largest of the four and the remaining three colour cartridges are smaller still. the cost of replacement for the Black cartridge was $64.95 (all prices are in Canadian dollars)and the cartridge is rated at 2000 pages at the usual unrealistic 5% coverage and the colour cartridges are cheaper at $54.95 but are rated at only 1000 pages at the usual unrealistic 5% coverage.


So lets say realistically you get 650 colour pages before replacing the colour cartridges that would put the cost per page at around .25¢ per page for colour and around .05¢ per page of black only print. I'm not entirely sure how that compares with other colour laser printers but I do know it's a hell of a lot cheaper than any inkjet printer (even with refill kits) the HP 2600n from what I've read is comparable.

Image quality
Well here we hit a snag I have seen output from the Xerox DC100 and from high end Ink-jets and well lets just say the Samsung CLP300 doesn't compare with these devices. Image quality is a really tough thing to judge I can easily say that any pictures I've printed look very good and that the colours being printed are very close to what I saw on the screen. In fact I feel that if you framed a 8"x10" print-out it would pass as an authentic photograph. Take a look at the samples below, the image on the left side is the printed output photographed with a macro setting and the original photo is located on the right side (you can click to enlarge any photo for a better comparison). You will notice the colours are slightly off on the printed version but bear in mind the printed image was photographed under Halogen lights and I'm not certain how the colours may be affected as the amount of detail and colours in the actual print-out are better than the photographed version you see here but this should at least give you some expectation of what you can expect to get when you bring the printer home. I did not make any changes to the default settings of the printer to achieve these print-outs.

Original Photos

So the verdict of Image Quality remains a matter of your needs, this printer exceeds all my needs in the image department in fact I still find it hard to believe this type of quality is available for $349.99. If your sending these as photos to relatives then you may prefer the Canon Selphy CP510 Compact Photo Printer but for all your other needs I'm confident you'll be extremely happy with the output of the Samsung CLP300. That being said I have noticed that large areas of a print-out containing a continuous tone show signs of break-up, meaning the shade is not the exact same through-out the area I suspect being a 4-pass printer makes aligning everything up that much more difficult but I have seen this type of behavior in almost all colour laser printers to some degree. The last issue I noticed was with glossy stock since the toner 'sits' on the stock rather than being absorbed the layers build up and I've noticed some areas where the toner didn't fuse correctly. This problem is not evident when using any of the regular weights of stock.

The odd looking part sticking out in the photo directly below on the left is the toner reclaim bottle and it needs to be replaced or emptied when full, according to Samsung that's around 1,250 colour pages or 5,00 black pages. The photo on the right is the rear access cover that is used to clear jams if you look just above the USB connection you'll see the spot where the network connection is on the Samsung CLP300n (network printer) which is exactly the same except for the addition of the network interface.

The last item we need to discuss is the Drum or Imaging unit, the Imaging unit is rated at 20,000 pages when using black and a 12,500 pages when using colour when replacement is needed it's very easy as the entire unit rolls forward and out of the front of the printer the cost for a replacement unit is around $120.00

Did I mention how quiet this printer is, I probably could print for most of the night with you sleeping in the next room and you'd never hear it, the actual rating while printing is Less than 49 dBA! let's not kid ourselves you will know when the printer is about to spit out a copy but unless you're in a very quiet environment I doubt you will be bothered by how loud the printer is. Another nice point in today's power hungry world is that the CLP300 used Less than 350 watts while printing and less than 17 watts while in Power Save mode.

Did someone say Linux and Mac OS support!
Samsung can't be faulted when it comes to trying to make a printer for all operating systems according to Samsung the CLP300 will run on these currently supported operating systems:

Microsoft Windows:
Win98, Win Me, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003
Apple Mac OS:
OS 10.3-10.4
Red Hat 8.0-9.0, Fedora Core 1-3, Mandrake 9.2-10.1, SuSE 8.2-9.2

Final Words.....
I forgot to mention that the CLP300 has a print resolution Up to 2400 x 600 dpi, I can't verify if this is the print unit itself or with software based interpolation techniques, also like many printers the Samsung CLP300 is a 'Host based' printer meaning the majority of the printing calculations are done by your PC before any information is sent to the CLP300 which uses the print language SPL-C developed by Samsung.

You've read the information and you can see examples of the quality above, You know the CLP300 is slower than other larger printers so the bottom line here is weather it's right for you. If your 're looking for the smallest and lightest color laser printer look no further, it's the only game currently in town. If you just want a quiet reliable colour laser the CLP300 is also the right ticket as it offers decent cost per page and more than decent quality comparable with other printers in this price range.

That's it hopefully I've provided you with the information needed to purchase this printer (or not)!


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