Color Laser Printer Review: Samsung CLP-660ND

Not every small business needs a color laser printer, but if yours does, the Samsung CLP-660ND offers the speed and performance you need plus the splash of color that make your print materials — but not your budget — pop. From taking it out of the box to features and output quality, the 660ND delivers the goods.

An Easy, Out-of-Box Experience
It’s a relief to encounter a product that you can un-box and setup without a chiropractor on speed-dial. While the printer weighs in at nearly 50 pounds, it’s basically a well-balanced, 17-inch cube that’s easy to set on any flat surface. Generous indentations at the base of the 660 let you lift out of the box without any weird contortions.

Like most hardware, the 660 includes a poster-sized quick install guide which shows a bunch of illustrated steps accompanied by hands and arrows doing cryptic things. The good news is that, if you are as dysfunctional at reading these “mime guides” as I, you don’t need it. There is nothing mysterious about setting up the Samsung 600.

Pull open the obvious front door and you expose the cavity for toner cartridges. If you’ve only used monochrome lasers before, you’ll notice that the Samsung 600 actually uses four toner cartridges—yellow, magenta, cyan and black. Each comes in the box separately bagged, and inserting them into their slots is foolproof.

The N Stands for Network
The 660ND model supports both USB 2.0 and Ethernet connections, via side-mounted jacks. With a network connection, the printer defaults to DHCP mode, meaning it will automatically request an IP address from the network.

If your network is non-standard or you would like to assign a static IP to the printer, the LCD control panel on the printer’s face lets you adjust network parameters—and many other configuration options—with a simple menu system. It is actually a good idea to assign a static IP to the printer, or else it may not always receive the same address. This could confuse your printer driver or misdirect bookmarks to the printer’s Web-based administration pages. In tests, the printer sometimes requested and received a new DHCP IP without even being reset.

Samsung CLP-660ND
The Samsung CLP-660ND color laser combines networking and duplex printing with a small business price tag.

Software Support
Samsung provides a CD with drivers and software for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Features vary by platform. Both Windows and Mac include Samsung’s “Smart Panel,” a utility that monitors the state of the printer. It displays toner levels and access to driver and printer settings. Although Smart Panel is not available for Linux machines, it isn’t terribly useful for any platform.

The 660ND includes a built-in Web serve, which you can access with any browser on the network. Using the Web interface, you can view toner levels and configure network settings. You can also change print settings including paper type, power save mode and layout.

Samsung’s driver for Windows (2000/XP and Vista) is the most full-featured of the lot. Besides the usual print options, it supports poster printing, N-up, fit-to-page, watermark, overlays and more. Most of these special print modes are not available in the Linux driver, and only some are supported in the OS X driver.

The “D” in 660ND stands for duplexing, which allows the printer to automatically print on both sides of each page. It prints on side A, feeds the sheet to the out tray, and then immediately slurps it back in, prints on side B, and then feeds it out again. You can duplex along the long or short sides of a page.

Media Support
Samsung includes a single printer tray with the 660ND, which fits snugly into the printer cube. It supports 250 sheets of paper and includes movable guides to support various paper sizes, including legal. You can add an optional 500-sheet tray, but because there is nowhere to insert it, the second tray is external and connects to the 660ND with a cable.

Because laser printers use a different process than inkjets, there are limitations on the kind of paper you can use in the 660ND. Although it prints color, for example, you cannot print photos to glossy photo paper like you can use in an inkjet for maximum quality prints. (In fact, glossy photo paper will not even feed.) Make no mistake—the 660ND is a color printer, but a business printer, and not intended to compete with quality inkjets for art prints.

You can print envelopes, labels and cardstock using the manual feed tray revealed by opening a flap on the printer’s face.

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