Samsung touts the CLX-2160 (and its network capable sibling, the CLX-2160n, RRP AU$849) as the world's smallest colour laser multifunction printer. They're undoubtedly correct (for now), although being a laser printer still means you're talking about a unit of some size; those who need a truly compact multifunction device will still need to look at the inkjet world for now. The CLX-2160 measures in at 41.3cm by 35.3cm by 33.3cm and weighs a chunky 16.5 kilograms; it's one of those IT devices that looks lighter than it in fact is.
Installation of the CLX-2160 is relatively painless, especially for a colour laser. It wouldn't be a home printer without the need to remove lots of bits of seemingly superfluous sticky tape, but once you're past that easily penetrable barrier, it's just a matter of installing the toner cartridges, which come in quite cute colour-coded cylinders. They all load simply from the front of the unit in a very similar style to many inkjet multifunction devices. All the cartridges are physically keyed, so it's not possible to insert them the incorrect way.
Samsung do perpetrate one our key irritants when it comes to consumer printers -- the CLX-2160 ships without a USB cable. C'mon guys -- you've already got AU$799 of our hard-earned cash -- would a AU$5 cable break the bank? Drivers and simple print utilities are supplied for Windows and Mac OS X.
Samsung rates the CLX-2160's page performance at up to 16ppm for mono prints, and up to 4ppm for colour prints, with a claimed first page out speeds of 18 and 26 seconds respectively. It connects solely via USB -- those with a hankering for networked colour lasers will either have to set up printer sharing or splurge an extra AU$50 for the CLX-2160n. The scanning bed is an 1200x600 dpi model.
Samsung hasn't missed another little printer manufacturer's trick with the CLX-2160, namely the use of "starter" toner cartridges. The boxed cartridges that come with the CLX-2160 are good for an estimated 1500 black and 700 colour pages -- that'll obviously vary depending on your exact usage -- compared to 2,000 and 1,000 pages for the full coverage replacement cartridges you'll eventually buy. Certainly, it's a trick that every printer manufacturer uses, so Samsung's only as guilty as the rest of the pack, but we still don't have to like it.
We tested the CLX-2160 printing and scanning a variety of documents, then assessing it against Samsung's claims for the printer, as we'd do for any other model. We were somewhat annoyed by the paper loading mechanism; like the Lexmark X9350 it uses a partially exposed A4 tray for automatic sheet feeding, and it's a fiddly little beast.
In checking the CLX-2160's specifications we weren't expecting much given the stated speeds; we've seen plenty of inkjet printers with claimed -- and sometimes even achieved -- printing speeds that would leave the CLX-2160 gasping for breath if its stated figures were true. Unfortunately for the CLX-2160, they're not only true, but arguably a bit optimistic, at least for monochrome prints. While your exact printing circumstances will determine your own real world speeds, at one point we were averaging 3 pages per minute printing a black and white children's drawing - hardly awe-inspiring.
The CLX-2160 did redeem itself in the colour stakes, however, with a very solid 2.5ppm for some heavy colour pages. That's still short of the claimed 4ppm, but it's at least within striking distance. In operation the CLX-2160 is suitably quiet for the most part, which is impressive for a printer of this size.
The CLX-2160 manages to be small enough to be striking, and arguably that's its best feature; if you're after a colour laser but only have limited space to accommodate a printer -- and can meet the not exactly budget asking price -- then it's a decent option. While we were unable to test the networked CLX-2160n, the additional AU$50 premium it affords would seem like a sensible choice for any small office.