Review: Samsung CLP-315W 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.

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