Samsung CLP-315 colour laser

Colour laser printing doesn't have to mean big, bulky workgroup printers. Enter the CLP-315 - the world's smallest colour laser.

IT Pro Verdict

This very small colour laser is quiet when printing, easy to maintain and cheap to buy. TCO isn’t so good, though, as the low capacity consumables are relatively expensive. It’s also slow to print, struggling to reach 4ppm in colour. For occasional use, though, neither of these factors need be damning.

Most of the printers reviewed at IT PRO are aimed at workgroup and corporate environments. Within these organisations, though, there's often a requirement for smaller, one-per-desk devices, too. These could be for management use or occasional colour print, perhaps within a department which already has access to high-volume mono output. If you want a small, personal colour laser, they don't come any smaller than Samsung's CLP-315.

Styled in frosted and high-gloss black, the printer has a footprint not much bigger than many mono lasers, but is quite a bit taller than most. Although the 150-sheet paper tray at the front of the machine sticks out a bit and increases the size, it's still easy to use this printer on just about any desk. There's no multi-purpose tray, not even a slot for single-sheet feed, which means any special media has to be loaded into the main tray.

Physical controls on the machine are minimal, with just one button, which cancels a printing job or continues one if, for example, you're set to print the second sides of a duplex document. There are six LEDs, one for each cartridge and two for errors such as paper jams, but there's no LCD display to provide status or instruction messages.

Setting the printer up is straightforward, as the four separate toner cartridges slot in one above the other from the front, once you've folded down the front cover. The only connection at the back is a USB socket, but if you need cabled and wireless networking, the CLP-315W variant can supply it. The only other option available is a second 150-sheet paper tray, which fits underneath the printers.

Supporting software is practical but not lavish, with a good driver offering overlays, watermarks and multiple pages per sheet. There's no automatic duplex available for this printer, but the driver does provide good manual duplexing instructions.

Samsung claims 17ppm for black print and 4ppm for colour. Running our own tests produced rather different figures. A five-page text document took just over 30 seconds, giving an actual speed of 9ppm. Recent research still shows that the average office document is below five pages, but manufacturers continue quote the highest figures they can obtain, however atypical some of the parameters.

The measured times are only true if the machine is already awake. If it's in sleep mode, as it's likely to be if it's left switched on and only printed to occasionally, there's a 20 second warm-up to add to the time, bringing the overall print speed down to 6ppm. If you increase the page count of the job to 20, the overall speed goes up to 13ppm, but that's still short of the spec sheet value.