Full-featured Samsung printer comes off in flying colours

Don’t be fooled – Samsung’s new CLP-770ND colour laser printer may be displayed on the consumer pages of the Samsung Web site, but trust me, it’s a workgroup printer.

At a hefty 29.9 kg (66 lbs) and measuring 17.6 inches wide x 18.3 inches deep x 18.9 inches high, it would flatten the average home printer desk, and its price – $1599.99 Canadian – would flatten the average home printer budget.

For the price, you get a solid set of business-friendly features in a printer designed to take a lot of abuse; its rated duty cycle is up to 120,000 pages per month.

  • MSRP $1,599.99 Canadian

  • Toners (7K pages) $210 (colours) $152 (black)

Duplexing is standard, as is 10/100 Ethernet. There’s also a USB 2.0 port and an EDI port. Wireless networking is optional.

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Despite all this functionality, setup takes just a few minutes. Once you decant the monster from its box, you simply remove shipping tape from a few locations, insert the 600 sheet paper tray and the four toner cartridges, plug in power and network cables and turn it on.

After a couple of minutes of calibration, the printer will automatically obtain an IP address (assuming DHCP is available) and is ready to go.

When you install the printer software (you get PCL 5e, PCL 6, and PostScript 3 drivers, plus a monitoring program) from the CD, the software will find the printer on the network


The monitoring program lets you set printer defaults as well as checking on job status, but that’s not the only way of keeping an eye on the machine.

It also has a built-in Web interface, the SyncThru Web Service, from which you can set networking parameters, printing defaults, check device and consumable status and even configure it to e-mail alerts about specific events to the administrator.

These goodies aren’t unique to Samsung – most networked lasers support this feature set – but the interface is easy to navigate and use. The four line LCD panel on the device also offers a window into its status.

Drivers are available for Windows desktop and server versions from 2000 up (I tested with XP and Windows 7 RTM, both of which worked fine), Mac OS 10.3 up and various flavours of Linux. You can also download drivers for Sun Solaris, HP-UX and IBM AIX.

We tested on Ubuntu Linux, with mixed results; I’d suggest checking online for the latest driver version rather than using the one on the CD. With that one, we experienced stalling print jobs that caused the printer to hang and require a power cycle to revive it.

We ran into an annoying glitch with colour duplex printing at first. Instead of overlaying coloured toner properly, each colour was offset by three characters, creating something that looked as though 3D glasses were required.

A firmware upgrade solved the problem. That process, by the way, was quite simple – download the file, either go into the Web interface or choose Printer Settings from the monitor, select Maintenance and follow the prompts. In five minutes or so, the printer restarts and is ready to go.

And go it does – up to a brisk 32 ppm in colour or monochrome. First page out arrives in 11 seconds or less, from Ready mode. If the printer is in power save mode, be prepared to wait a minute or more for the first sheet to emerge, however.

After that, it’s quick, and did indeed hit its rated top speed in tests, without sacrificing print quality. Photos, documents and graphics all came out very well, even on plain paper.

The printer accepts media ranging from plain paper to card stock – plain paper in the tray, and heavier or odd-sized media in the 100 sheet multi-purpose tray. Maximum page size is legal (8.5 x 14 inches). The output tray on top holds 350 sheets.

Energy-conserving features include the aforementioned duplexing, the ability to print multiple pages on a single sheet of paper, and a power-saver mode that sips less than 17W.

The printer uses under 750W when active. Samsung lists average cost per page at 1.7 cents for monochrome and 9.5 cents for colour.

The printer comes with a set of starter toner cartridges; subsequent toners, rated for about 7000 pages at the standard 5 percent coverage, cost $152 for black, and $210 for each of cyan, magenta and yellow. Yes, that’s almost $800 to replace all four cartridges.

Every 50,000 pages, you need to replace the transfer belt (about $200).

If the paper capacity is insufficient, you can purchase two additional 500 sheet input trays. Other accessories include extra memory (256 MB is the default), and an 80 GB hard drive.

But even as it ships, the CLP-770ND is a full-featured printer that can more than cope with the rigours of the workplace.

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