The Samsung SCX-4200 is a surprisingly inexpensive monochrome multifunction laser printer. For a mere AU$249, you can print, scan, and copy; the only feature it lacks is fax functionality, though you can work around this omission by going the scan-and-e-mail route. In fact, its cost is so low that we haven't seen other printers of its ilk at this price; the SCX-4200 holds up well when looked at against its higher-priced competition from Dell and Lexmark. With its decently fast print speeds and great print quality, the SCX-4200 would fit right in to any home or small office with low-volume needs and a small budget.
The Samsung SCX-4200 sports the same boxy, grey aesthetic as Samsung's other printers. This multifunction laser printer sits 40.8cm wide, 36.3cm deep, and 23.1cm tall -- pretty compact for a laser multifunction. The scanner lid opens to reveal an A4-size flatbed scanner, and the lid's hinges lift to accommodate thick originals.
Paper handling is standard, though, unfortunately, it's not expandable. The input cassette holds up to 250 sheets of copy paper and can be configured to hold up to legal-size paper, though in this configuration, the cassette will jut out from the rear of the printer. A manual-feed slot with adjustable paper guides lets you hand-feed single sheets of paper. The main output slot has a fold-out flap to corral paper and can hold up to 50 sheets. In the rear of the printer is a door that allows for straight pass-through. To engage the straight pass-through mode, simply open the back door; if the door is closed, prints will automatically go to the main output slot. There's no autoduplex option on this printer, so double-sided printing is a manual operation.
The printer's control panel is spare, with only a handful of buttons: Menu; Left, Right, OK, and Back for navigating the menu; Copies for changing the number of copies; Stop/Clear; and Start. A two-line LCD lets you read the menu options, but it's not backlit, so it can be difficult to read under poor lighting conditions.
The front wall of the SCX-4200 folds down to reveal the toner/drum cartridge. The printer ships with a 1,000-page starter cartridge, but replacement cartridges can print an estimated 4,000 pages.The printer has a toner-save mode that reduces the amount of toner used on each print; you'll save money, but you'll also see reduced print quality.
Setting up the printer is an easy task. Simply use the included CD to install the software and drivers and connect the printer to your PC when instructed. The SCX-4200 comes equipped for a USB connection only, but Samsung sells an optional network adapter (or you can check out any number of print servers available from other vendors).
The features of the Samsung SCX-4200 make it best suited for basic business use. The lack of a fax machine is the only major drawback for this office-oriented printer. When making copies, you can make the usual changes, such as increasing the number of copies (up to 99), scaling (50 to 200 percent), altering the copy darkness, and indicating the type of original.
Using the Special Copy option, you can do a number of things. The Clone feature lets you make multiple copies of one image onto a single sheet of paper. According to the user manual, the number of times the image is repeated is determined by the size of the original and the size of the paper. We couldn't find any hard formula for predicting how many clones you will end up with, but Samsung says that theoretically, there is no maximum: the printer should produce as many copies of the image as will fit on the page. When we tried to clone a small 2x2-inch line drawing that looked as though it could be easily cloned six or more times, we got only two clones on the page. On the other hand, when we carefully drew an image that took up almost an entire quarter or an eighth of a sheet of letter-size paper, we were rewarded with four and eight clones, respectively. It's probably a matter of trial and error to get the results you're looking for.
Other Special Copy options include Auto Fit, where the original is reduced or enlarged to fit the paper in the cassette; ID Card Copy, where you can have both sides of an original printed on the same side (you'll be prompted to flip the original to complete the scan); 2-up copying, which is much like ID Card Copy, but fits two originals on one sheet (this option reduces the originals by 50 percent); and poster printing, wherein the original is enlarged so that it fits nine sheets of paper in a 3x3 layout.
To scan a document, you must initiate the scan using your PC. You can use any TWAIN-compliant program, such as Photoshop, the Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) driver, or Samsung's SmarThru software that comes on the CD. If you use the SmarThru software, you can select how you want to use the completed scan. You can open it in an application such as Photoshop, attach the scan to an e-mail, save it to a designated folder, open it using Optical Character Recognition (this allows you to edit scanned text documents), or upload it directly to a Web site (you'll need to provide a URL and a login/password if necessary). Output options include bitmap, TIFF, JPEG, and PDF. And while the printer itself can only output monochrome documents, the scanner can replicate either monochrome or color documents.
Predictably, the Samsung SCX-4200 was a little slower at most tasks than its higher-priced competition (we haven't reviewed any mono laser multifunctions in the same price range as the Samsung recently, so we can't compare to its direct competitors at the moment). It printed black text at a rate of 13.42 pages per minute, as opposed to the 17.75ppm posted by the Dell 1815dn and the 17.13ppm posted by the Lexmark X340n. It did a little better with mono graphics: 14.29ppm. It did, however, beat both the Dell and the Lexmark at greyscale scans: 5.62ppm vs. 4.85ppm from the Dell and 4.12ppm from the Lexmark. Colour scans were a tiny bit slower, at 4.95ppm.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
What the Samsung SCX-4200 lacked in speed, it made up for in quality. The text prints were of excellent quality: sharp and legible down to very small point sizes (2 pts). The only thing we found issue with was the darkness: we would have preferred for the text to be blacker. The mono graphics/text document was also pleasing, with sharp details. Large patches of gray were covered in a faint crosshatch pattern, but this is common among laser printers. The greyscale scan didn't fare quite so well, though it was serviceable. The white end of the greyscale was overblown, resulting in lost detail in highlights. It fared better in the colour scans, with good colour reproduction, smooth curves, and sharp details. Overall, we were pleased with the printer's output quality, especially for the price; it should suffice for most small office environments.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung backs the SCX-4200 with an industry-average one-year warranty. Samsung's Web site has helpful FAQs that deal with general questions, such as how to network a printer and what types of paper you can use with a laser printer. The site also offers a download center with user manuals, drivers, and software, along with a guide to consumables and accessories.