capsule review

Samsung CLP-650N

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Canon SELPHY DS810 Printer

    PCWorld Rating

    Offers good paper handling and low costs per page, but print speeds are a mixed bag and print quality is low.

The $700 (as of 10/6/06) Samsung CLP-650N has an unusual design, which requires that it be located with plenty of room on two sides. The 250-sheet main paper drawer opens to the front, but you need space to the right of the printer for the 100-sheet auxiliary tray and for replacing the toner cartridges. Printed pages emerge from right to left at the top.

You can feed envelopes only from the auxiliary tray, where they can be stacked up to 10 high. You can add a single optional 500-sheet paper drawer for a moderate $249, but Samsung doesn't offer a duplexer option. The control panel features a two-line LCD and a diagram of the printer where lights indicate any errors. The printer comes with a generous 256MB of memory, and has drivers for both PCL and PostScript. The embedded Web server makes the unit easy to administer.

The CLP-650N compared poorly to other color lasers in our quality tests. Its text printing was light and fuzzy. Our line-art sample was a mess, suffering from blue and yellow shades in blocks of closely spaced horizontal lines, and diagonal interference patterns. The grayscale image looked grainy, with moiré patterns in textured areas and lots of narrow horizontal banding. On plain paper, our color tests had dull shades, diagonal dithering patterns, and excessive graininess. For our photo tests on glossy paper at the best quality settings, Samsung made the odd choice of Epson Premium Semigloss paper, which is designed for inkjets. We saw major horizontal and vertical banding, muted colors, jaundiced skin tones, and grainy highlights. Informal testing with other glossy papers showed no improvement.

In our performance tests, text printed slightly below average at 14.6 pages per minute, plain-paper color pages arrived at a swift 5.5 ppm, and glossy prints came out at a slow 1.5 ppm.

Samsung rates all four toner cartridges at 4000 pages. They cost $90 for black and $130 for each color. During regular use, you also have to change the $49 toner belt every 35,000 pages. Every 50,000 pages you must replace the fuser unit and pick-up rollers, but this isn't something you can do yourself. Samsung estimates this to cost $277 for parts and labor at its authorized service centers, but includes it free during the standard one-year warranty. Based on these figures, you're paying 2.9 cents per monochrome page and 12.7 cents for color once the warranty has expired. Samsung offers extended warranties for up to three more years, which should give better value to heavy users.

Paul Jasper

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Offers good paper handling and low costs per page, but print speeds are a mixed bag and print quality is low.

    Pros

    • Good paper handling
    • Low costs per page

    Cons

    • Low print quality
    • Extra space needed to access both sides
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.