Review: Samsung CLP-315W Color Laser Printer

by Gerry Blackwell

Add an affordable splash of color to your business documents with Samsung's $200 color laser printer.

Business printing has come a long way since the time, 20 years ago, when I shelled out more than $2,000 for a laser printer that could only print black text and graphics. Laser printers have changed a lot since then, as evidenced by the Samsung's CLP-315W color model, which sells for a mere $200.

This is not an all-in one product. It can’t fax, photocopy or scan. All it does is print in color and black and white – on letter or legal size paper, envelopes and labels. But it's a workhorse that can print on a either a wired or wireless network.

Performance Profile

The CLP-315W doesn’t do quite as good a job on photos as similarly priced business inkjet printers using special photo papers. The illusion of continuous color tones is not as, well, photo-like. And the software provides virtually no control of color.

On the other hand, it does a better job of photos on plain paper than inkjets. And colors in general are brighter and more saturated, especially on plain paper. All of which makes it excellent for printing marketing documents with a mix of text graphics and photos.

And black text from a laser printer is still noticeably sharper than inkjet output. Effective resolution from this model is up to 2,400 x 600 dots per inch (dpi) and text looks razor sharp.

It’s not as fast as inkjets (up to 17 letter-size pages per minute in black only, up to four ppm in color, which is less than half the speed of some similarly priced inkjets), but it starts spitting out pages very quickly – in as little as 14 seconds for black-only jobs. 

The CLP-315W offers a very modest footprint: 15.3 x 12.3 x 9.6 inches. In fact, Samsung claims it’s the smallest and lightest color laser available. It’s also very elegant in shiny black with molded corners. It won’t look out of place in even the most stylish offices.

Unlike most inkjets, this printer is quiet as a whisper – less than 45 dBA (decibels). OK, a whisper is actually only about 20 dBA The point is, in a tightly packed office, noise can be a problem. This printer doesn’t contribute to it.

The Samsung CLP-315W color laser printer
Samsung's CLP-315W offers color laser printing and both wired and wireless networking capability for $200.

The CLP-315W, like other laser printers, shines in one important area: duty cycle – the workload it can handle, usually stated as the number of pages per month.

Samsung gives the duty cycle for the CLP-315W as ‘up to 20,000 pages.’ By way of comparison, HP gives the duty cycle for one of its similarly-priced inkjet printers, the Officejet Pro K8600, as 6,250 pages.

Cost Comparison

What about cost-per-page compared to inkjet printing? That’s a little more complicated. Printer manufacturers supposedly use standardized testing developed by the ISO (International Standards Organization) for calculating the yield of ink or toner cartridges. The trouble is the ISO has separate testing standards for laser and inkjet.

Still, they’re based on the same principle: continuously print a standard set of pages with a mix of text, graphics and photos until the printer runs out of ink or toner.

Of course, real-world results will differ because you will sometimes print more on each page, sometimes less than the test pages, and you’ll use up the ink or toner over many days or weeks, which is different from printing continuously as in the standard tests.

Samsung gives the average yield for the CLP-315W’s black toner cartridge as 1,500 standard pages. The product actually ships with a lower-capacity cartridge rated at 1,000 pages. Average yield from color cartridges: 1,000 pages. Again, the included cartridges – cyan, magenta, yellow – are lower capacity: only 700 pages.

Cost for the black cartridge: $50. Cost for each color cartridge: $45.

But then every 24,000 images or so, you also have to replace the imaging unit. That will cost about $140. Note, though, that this is images, not pages. Each unique page is one image. If you print it 1,000 times, it’s still only one image.

By way of contrast, page yields for the cartridges used by the HP K8600 inkjet printer are given as 850 pages for a black cartridge that sells for $22 and 2,450 pages for one that costs $38. The high-capacity color ink cartridges (three of them) yield from 1,540 to 1,980 pages and sell for about $27 each.

If you can trust the numbers quoted, and that the testing of laser and inkjet products is similar enough, then it would appear you pay less for inkjet consumables. Or at least, you pay less for consumables for one particular HP inkjet printer, the K8600, than you do for CLP-315W consumables.

Also you have to factor in the capital cost of replacing the printer. According to the duty cycle numbers, the laser printer should last longer given an equal amount of work.

Relatively Easy Set-Up

The CLP-315W offers a generally excellent out-of-the-box experience. Even the set-up procedure to use the CLP-315W on a Wi-Fi network is not terribly difficult, and it’s very clearly documented.

That said, it does include a few steps that might daunt low-tech users accustomed to simply plugging a printer into their computer with a USB cable – which you can also do with this printer if you don’t need to have it available on the network.

The CLP-315W has a multi-purpose Stop button on the top surface, and a power switch on the rear. Period. Still, assuming your network includes a DHCP server that automatically assigns IP addresses when you connect devices – which most small office and home networks do – the procedure is fairly straightforward, and worked perfectly in our testing.

Step by Step

You start by connecting the printer to your network access point or router using an Ethernet cable. The router should automatically assign it an IP address after a few minutes, although you won’t know if this has happened until you follow the next step.

Pressing and holding the Stop button on the CLP-315W prints out a network configuration report with an alarming amount of information. All you really need to pay attention to is the IP address. It will be either one in the range assigned by your router, if the assignment was successful, or the default IP address with which the printer ships, if it wasn’t.

Our case required an intermediate step because we use MAC filtering – we in effect tell the router to block all wireless devices except those whose MAC addresses appear in an address filtering list in the router’s software. So we had to copy the printer’s address from the network configuration report into that list. No biggie.

At this point, you use a computer on the network to connect to the printer’s configuration software by keying its new IP address into a browser address field. The interface appears in your browser window.

You will need to know the network’s name or SSID to complete the set-up. And if you use WPA (encryption security – instead of or in addition to MAC filtering), you will need to know the WPA key.

All that remains is to launch the configuration wizard, choose your network from the list of Wi-Fi networks the printer finds and key in the WPA key if needed. Now you can unplug the Ethernet cable and the printer will work wirelessly.

Bottom Line

If you need a work-horse printer for your small office or department, one capable of producing presentation-quality documents – and printing photos is a requirement but not a critical one – the CLP-315W deserves a close look.

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

This article was originally published on Thursday Sep 25th 2008
Mobile Site | Full Site