The Samsung CLX-3160FN is a large, all-in-one color laser printer for small offices or work groups. The $600 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'. 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. 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.
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 18.3 inches wide by 19.1 inches tall by 16.9 inches deep. At 45 pounds, 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-organized 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 color 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 color cartridges print up to 700 pages each. The replacement cartridges cost $60 for the black (up to 2,000 pages) and $50 for each color cartridge (up to 1,000 prints). Black prints cost about 3 cents per page, and full-color prints cost about 18 cents per page, on the high end for color laser prints. 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.
The Samsung CLX-3160FN offers the expected range of features for a $600 multifunction printer. 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.