Samsung CLX-4195FW Multifunction Laser Printer Review

by Paul Mah

The Samsung CLX-4915FW, a full-featured color multifunction laser printer, supports both wired networks and wireless networks, and you can also print to it from your mobile devices.

The Samsung CLX-4195FW Color Multifunction laser printer offers small businesses four-in-one print, copy, scan and fax functionality. In addition to its high-resolution color printouts, the multifunction printer (MFP) comes with a vibrant, 4.3-inch color touch-screen operating panel and an impressive array of both wired and wireless interfaces. It sells for $449.99 direct from Samsung and includes free shipping.

We take a closer look at how the CLX-4195FW multifunction device fares as a general purpose small business printer.

Key Small Business Printer Specifications

A quick glance through the specifications and it is immediately evident that the Samsung CLX-4195FW printer is designed for mid-duty to heavy-duty usage. Samsung confirms this by pointing out that the MFP's duty cycle is rated at 40,000 pages per month, which should be more than adequate for most small business offices.

Samsung CLX-4195FW multifunction printer

Figure 1: The Samsung CLX-4195FW multifunction printer packs plenty of features into is a mid-sized device.

Of course, with a toner yield of 2,500 pages for black and 1,800 for each primary color, business owners will want a more heavy-duty machine if they plan to print anywhere near that figure. The use of separate black and color cartridges can be a huge money saver though, especially for businesses that require some color from time-to-time, but print mostly in black and white.

An output speed of 19 pages per minute when printing in either black or color means that the CLX-4195FW is no performance slouch. The speed comes from a 533MHz dual processor and 256MB of memory under the hood, with the latter upgradable to 512MB. The CLX-4195FW scans at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi resolution, and it's capable of up to 32-bit color or 24-bit greyscale. The built-in fax modem is rated at 33.6kbps.

The paper input tray holds 250 sheets while the output tray accommodates 100 sheets. The ADF (automatic document feeder) holds 50 sheets – a reasonable capacity for small business needs. The CLX-4195FW supports a range of connectivity options that includes Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. For direct connectivity, MFP can be plugged into a PC via USB or using Wi-Fi Direct.

Setting up the CLX-4195FW

Setting up the CLX-4195FW printer is simple, and involves taking it out of the box, inserting the various toner cartridges and plugging it in. To install the toner cartridges, you open up the front cover by releasing the twin latches on the sides. Tug on the green lever that is revealed, and a tray for the toner cartridges slides out. There are four toner cartridges to be installed in total: One for black, and three others for cyan, magenta and yellow.

Plug in the AC cable, phone line for fax, and depending on your deployment plan, this may be followed either by a USB or Ethernet cable – or neither if you plan to hook the CLX-4195FW to your Wi-Fi network. The various ports are clustered on the back and along one side, which makes it easier to keep the cables tidy. The printer's integrated wireless antenna is hidden within the chassis.

You can setup the printer for the first time in a number of ways. We quickly configured the network settings using the touch screen for both the wired Ethernet network and the Wi-Fi wireless connection. For the latter, you can either have the CLX-4195FW perform a quick scan to select the appropriate network, or you can enter the information manually.

Once on the network, simply install the device driver and the Samsung small business MFP is ready for use.

A Full-featured, Fast Small Business Printer

You can print, scan and fax with the CLX-4195FW multifunction printer in a number of ways. In this instance, we used an Ethernet cable to use the MFP as a network printer. The device driver automatically found the printer as part of the installation process without any need to meddle with the IP settings.

The fast printing speed measures in seconds even at the highest print settings. We found the printouts impressive overall; text quality is particularly exceptional, while photos appear vibrant and consistent. We did notice some very faint horizontal lines occasionally appearing on full-page color printouts, though they are visible only when viewed up close.

Note that printing large photo images can take between two to five minutes, as can emails and Web pages with large embedded photos. The printer uses almost all of that time to process the page for printing – the printing itself takes only seconds. Pages with smaller images fare much better and take about as much time as text document printouts.

The Samsung CLX-4195FW incorporates a special mobile printing capability that we find particularly impressive. Without any prior configuration, we printed email messages and photos from an iPhone 5 smartphone directly to the printer. According to Samsung, the printer also supports Android and Windows Phone devices.

The small business MFP also offers several ways to scan. You can scan directly onto a USB flash drive that you plug into the printer's front-facing USB port. Other options include using it as a USB scanner, scanning over the network and scanning to an email address. In our tests, the last method resulted in an error that we suspect was due to an admin-level configuration issue involving the SMTP server setting that we were not able to change.

What we particularly like is the capability to specify the scan quality and output file using the touch screen. Options include multipage PDF and TIFF, as well as single files in JPEG, PDF or TIFF. For faxing, the MFP offers features such as setting a time delay before the faxes go out, or sending them out as a group. Finally, the Samsung software offers the capability to receive incoming fax from a PC.

An MFP with Impressive Business Features

Samsung has clearly given much thought to making the CLX-4195FW an excellent small business multifunction printer. Fundamental printing, scanning and faxing capabilities aside, the company has also developed a number of software applications designed to aid in deploying and managing the MFP.

The Samsung Easy Deployment Manager utility, for example, allows IT departments to perform advanced deployment by predefining various configurations and options. This is then used to create an installation package that can be manually installed, or even pushed out via Active Directory. This involves a substantial commitment to business users, and is not a feature we see from many printer manufacturers.

Other tools such as the Easy Eco Driver lets you edit and preview documents before printing, thus helping you to save on toner. The Easy Color Management lets you adjust configurations such as the color balance, saturation, brightness or contrast – useful for getting your company logo just right.

On the hardware side of things, the color touch screen interface is intuitive and easy-to-use. The availability of Gigabit Ethernet also provides ample room for expansion; while the Wi-Fi Direct features lets you quickly connect to the MFP and print wirelessly.

Finally, the printer's SSID and passphrase features lets you grant guests and visitors the ability to print without ever actually accessing the company network. This lets you share printer access without compromising on security.

Bottom Line

The CLX-4195FW incorporates a plethora of useful and well-implemented capabilities, and is an excellent MFP by itself. And though Samsung is a newer to building printers than many other brands out there, the company has made impressive inroads into meeting the needs of small businesses.

The only improvement we'd like to see concerns the resistive touch screen. While there is nothing outright wrong with it, the sensitivity feels clunky compared to a capacitance touch screen that everyone is now used to. Even so, the printer's comprehensive software applications and tools mean that you are unlikely to use the touch screen all that much, so it may not even be an issue for you.

Overall, we highly recommend the Samsung CLX-4195FW color multifunction for small businesses with mid-volume printing needs.

Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Oct 30th 2012
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