At a Glance
Despite a few quirks, the Samsung CLX-6220FX color laser multifunction printer is well worth considering for small-workgroup use. It offers only average performance and toner costs, but its output quality is very nice. Although the printer lists for $699, we'd seen it advertised for less than $500, so it could also represent a minimal initial investment.
The CLX-6220FX faxes, copies, prints, and scans, via both USB and ethernet. Duplexing is standard for both printing and copying or scanning via the 50-sheet automatic document feeder. You get a 250-page input cassette and a 100-sheet multipurpose tray, plus a 170-page output tray. An additional 500-sheet, bottom-mounted cassette is available for $235. The control panel is minimal but efficient, with a four-line monochrome LCD, a logical menu and navigation-button layout, and a numeric keypad for faxing. Bundled applications are provided for both OS X and Windows, and they are easy to use. In our tests, however, the installation on the Mac tucked them away in the Applications folder without leaving a clue as to their existence.
As mentioned earlier, the CLX-6220FX's output quality is very good for a midlevel laser printer. On tests with both our PC and our Mac, text was sharp. Color images exhibited a slightly bright but still realistic default palette, which made the mild background pattern and graininess more tolerable. Our PC scan sample (a high-resolution snapshot) looked cartoonish, while the Mac scan sample (an even higher-resolution, near-full-page photo) tended to get too murky in darker areas. Copies on both platforms were crisp and well colored.
You should stick with the high-yield toner for the Samsung CLX-6220FX. The standard-size supplies, a set of which ships with the unit, are pricey: A 2500-page, standard-size black toner cartridge costs $90 (3.6 cents per page), and 2000-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges each cost $99 (4.9 cents per color, per page). A page with all four colors would cost 18.4 cents, more than many inkjet MFPs charge. The high-yield cartridge costs are average, but still a relief, as a 5000-page black cartridge is $120 (2.4 cents per page), while 4000-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges are $140 each (3.5 cents per color, per page). A four-color page with these cartridges would cost a reasonable 12.9 cents.
The CLX-6220FX's middling performance is adequate for a small workgroup's needs. Copying and scanning speeds were about average. Printing a mix of plain-text pages, some with simple monochrome graphics, it managed a ho-hum 11.5 pages per minute; on our Mac, the rate was a slower 9.5 ppm. Snapshot-size photo samples (printed on letter-size paper) rushed out at a chart-topping 3.1 ppm on our PC; meanwhile, a near-full-page, high-resolution photo took 94 seconds (about 0.6 ppm) to emerge from our Mac testbed. We also encountered one noticeable quirk: On our Mac, a four-page PDF file of complex graphics took forever to print in Acrobat Reader 9; the poky 2.8 ppm time we show in our test results was when we printed from Apple's Preview. Samsung is aware of the problem.
Macworld's buying advice
The Samsung CLX-6220FX offers great text quality and decent high-yield toner costs. The PDF print problem aside, this MFP will serve a small workgroup capably.