Samsung CLX-3160FN

The Samsung CLX-3160FN isn't the best or fastest multifunction printer, but it offers a good value for small offices and work groups with basic needs.


6.7
CNET Rating

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The Samsung CLX-3160FN is a large, all-in-one colour laser printer for small offices or work groups. The printer is network-ready and offers the expected feature set plus good print/scan quality. Many of the tasks, however -- particularly printing graphics -- are a bit slower than the competitions'. Despite the fact that the Samsung CLX-3160FN is neither the fastest nor makes the best prints, it arrives at a compelling intersection of price, features, and performance, making it a great value for general purpose multitasking for work groups.

Design
The Samsung CLX-3160FN is a large, multifunction laser printer, better suited for a small work group or an office's utility closet. It stands 46.6cm wide by 48.6cm tall by 42.9cm deep. At 26 kilograms, it's possible for one person to move it around -- the hand wells on either side help. The CLX-3160FN has an A4-size flatbed scanner, which is topped with an automatic document feeder that holds up to 50 sheets of paper. The ADF lets you make legal-size copies/scans, as well.

The CLX-3160FN ships with a single paper cassette that holds up to 150 sheets of plain paper. You can configure the cassette for various paper sizes, including legal length. Atop the cassette sits a single-sheet manual feed tray with adjustable paper guides -- convenient for one-off prints. If you need increased paper capacity, Samsung offers an optional 250-sheet cassette. The output well has a fold-out flap that keeps prints from sailing to the ground.

The control panel is well-organised and simple to understand. The two-line text LCD is surrounded by task buttons (for fax, copy, and scan/e-mail) and menu navigation buttons. Dedicated fax buttons let you access stored quick-dial numbers, browse the address book, change resolution, and redial. Dedicated copy buttons allow you to adjust darkness, change the original type, and reduce/enlarge. Rounding out the control panel are the alphanumeric keypad and two Start buttons (for colour and mono). A front-mounted USB port offers direct USB connectivity for PictBridge cameras or USB flash memory devices.

The CLX-3160FN uses Samsung's patented toner "plugs" that are easy to pull out and replace. The multifunction machine ships with starter cartridges: the black prints up to 1,500 pages and the colour cartridges print up to 700 pages each. The printer's monthly duty cycle (that is, recommended print volume) is 24,200 pages, making it better suited for a small work group than a home office user.

Features
The Samsung CLX-3160FN offers the expected range of features for a multifunction printer in its price range. Both the CLX-3160FN and the CLX-3160N are network-ready, though you can also connect them directly to a PC using the USB port. They lack a duplexer for automatic double-sided prints (and Samsung doesn't offer an add-on unit, either) and expandable memory. Both models ship with just 128MB of memory. On the other hand, the front-mounted USB port offers some convenient task options. First, you can connect a PictBridge camera for PC-free image printing. Second, you can print from or scan to a USB flash drive. When scanning, you can choose the Scan to USB option and save the files as TIFFs, PDFs, or JPEGs. You can also print the same file types from the connected USB drive. Additionally, you can back up (and restore) the printer's address book and system settings to a USB flash drive, in case of a power failure that erases the settings and entries.

When copying, you can use either the ADF or the flatbed scanner -- up to 99 copies. Options include ID card copy, poster copy, image clone, 2-up and 4-up copy, and zoom. If you're using the flatbed scanner, you can reduce or enlarge between 25 and 400 percent. If using the ADF, you're limited to 25 to 100 percent.

If you're scanning documents or images, you can save them to the USB drive, save them to your PC's My Documents folder, attach the scan to an e-mail, or open the document in Paint, Samsung's SmarThru software (for editing), or using optical character recognition software. If you've installed the multifunction printer on a network, you can enable the Scan to Network features as well.

The CLX-3160FN's fax feature lets you set up a password-protected secure receive mode, delayed fax, and fax blast (up to 10 numbers); forward received faxes to e-mail addresses or other fax numbers; and set up a junk fax block where faxes from preset numbers are not received. The address book feature lets you program up to 30 one-touch dial numbers, plus up to 240 additional speed-dial numbers and up to 200 group speed dial numbers.

Performance
The Samsung CLX-3160FN's task speeds were all over the map, with fast black-text prints, but slow graphics prints and scan speeds. The only other colour multifunction we reviewed recently was the HP Color Laserjet CM1017MFP, but we did pull scores from some older colour MFPs for comparison. The Samsung scored 13.53ppm in black text, more than doubling the HP's score, but still behind the Epson AcuLaser CX11NF. It fell to the back of the pack (by far) with black graphics, though, with a score 3.76ppm. Likewise, it scored nearly the lowest in colour text and graphics -- 3.95ppm and 3.74ppm, respectively -- faster than only the Canon MF8170c. It scored in the middle of the pack for scans: 4.44ppm for greyscale and 4.31ppm for colour.

CNET Labs' colour multifunction laser speed tests (pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Colour graphics
Colour text
Black graphics
Black text
Epson AcuLaser CX11NF
4.15
4.47
19.1
18.44
Samsung CLX-3160FN
3.74
3.95
3.76
13.53
Oki C5510n
8.83
7.33
13.43
13.52
HP Color Laserjet CM1017 MFP
6.16
5.91
6.31
6.81

CNET Labs' colour multifunction laser speed tests (pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Colour scan
Greyscale scan
Epson AcuLaser CX11NF
16.29
10.5
Samsung CLX-3160FN
4.31
4.44
Oki C5510n
10.6
13.66
HP Color Laserjet CM1017 MFP
2.61
3.39

Happily, the CLX-3160FN was more consistent with task quality than with task speed. The black-text prints showed clean, consistently formed, and nicely dark, black characters. The only issue we noted was that the bold text could use a bit of sharpening -- they tended to look a little bit swollen. The colour text offered nicely blended colours, but looked a bit fuzzy around the edges. The black graphics print was pretty good too, with a nicely gradated greyscale. The photo elements could be sharper, and the wingding-type characters need to be smoother, especially around curved edges. The colour graphics page showed great detail but colours were a bit oversaturated and the greyscale gradient showed banding.

The colour scan was sharp and showed lots of detail, but the colours were muddied and dull. The greyscale scan wasn't quite as sharp -- it had a hazy quality to it, but otherwise looked good. Overall, the CLX-3160FN was a middle-of-the- road performer in both speed and quality. If you're looking for the fastest prints, check out the Epson AcuLaser CX11NF and if you want the best print quality, take a look at the HP Color Laserjet CM1017 MFP.

CNET Labs' colour multifunction laser quality
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Colour graphics
Colour text
Black graphics
Black text
HP Color Laserjet CM1017 MFP
3
4
4
4
Samsung CLX-3160FN
3
3
3
3
Epson AcuLaser CX11NF
3
2
3
2
Oki C5510n
1
2
3
2

CNET Labs' colour multifunction laser quality
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Colour scan
Greyscale scan
HP Color Laserjet CM1017 MFP
2
2
Samsung CLX-3160FN
3
3
Epson AcuLaser CX11NF
3
4
Oki C5510n
3
3

Samsung backs the CLX-3160FN with a standard one-year warranty. Samsung's site provides an FAQ/knowledgebase, a download centre (drivers, software, manuals), and online service request.

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