Samsung Printer Xpress C410W review: NFC makes low-end color laser a little special
Most low-priced color lasers are big disappointments: slow, with mediocre color images and costly toner prices. The Samsung Printer XPress C410W rises above some of the stereotypes, offering impressively good print quality and decently priced black toner. However, its color toners are costly, and print performance is agonizingly slow. Its ability to print via near-field communication (NFC) is interesting, though still somewhat niche. Call it an adequate low-volume printer for the home or small office, with a couple of bonus features.
Typical low-end color laser in most respects
Physically, there's not a lot to talk about with the XPress C410W. It's your standard, boxy laser printer that's been with us since the first HP Laserjet. There's a 150-sheet paper cassette at the bottom of the unit and a 50-sheet output tray integrated into the top. The front panel folds down to reveal the four svelte toner cartridges and other replaceable parts. There's no automatic duplexer. Dialog boxes coach you through manual two-sided printing. The controls on top of the XPress C410W are simple and easy to use. The printer may be connected via Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB so you can place it wherever you see fit.
It took me a while to get the NFC printing to work—basically because I didn't read the manual, which instructs you to match the tag on the back of your mobile device with the tag on the top of the printer. The lab guys got quite the kick out of my tapping manically everywhere except where I should have been.
Obviously, you must have a mobile device capable of NFC (Samsung provided a Galaxy SIII). Match tags, select what you want to print, match the tags again, and you're golden. How often you'll be standing next to a printer to match tags is questionable. Most of the time, printing via Wi-Fi will be more useful.
Color toner is costly
Whether the XPress C410W's pricey toner costs will ever catch up with you depends on how much you print. The cartridges don't last long—just 2,000 pages for black and 1,000 pages for each color. Samsung was selling them for $63.99 (black) and $54.99 (each color) at this writing, which comes out to a good 3.2 cents per page for black and a pricey 5.5 cents per color, per page. A four-color page would cost 19.7 cents. We saw lower prices for the same cartridges at other sources, so shopping around might save you a bit. This printer is designed for people who don't print much, so it could take you a while to get through even these modest-sized cartridges. Still, you're going to feel it when you re-supply—and that will be soon, as the Xpress C410W ships with 700-page black, and 500-page color starter cartridges.
Additional costs include a $98 imaging unit, which is good for 16,000 black pages and 4,000 color pages, as well as a $13 toner waste container that's good for 7,500 black pages and 1750 color pages. Eventually those replacements will add another 0.8 cents per page. Not the stuff of a bargain hunter's dreams.
Very slow performance
The XPress C410W's speed is strictly ho-hum for a laser printer, but acceptable for the printer's intended small- or home-office role.Text and monochrome graphics pages printed at an aggregate 8.2 per minute on the PC and 7.9 on the Mac. Small (4-by-6-inch) photos printed at about 2 pages per minute in graphics mode and 1.5 pages in photo mode. A full-page photo printed on the Mac took about 54 seconds.
What makes this all arguably worthwhile is the print quality, which is surprisingly good for a low-end model. Although we sometimes had to fiddle with settings to get the best possible quality, even the default colors printed smoothly and looked fairly realistic, whether they were fleshtones, landscapes, or objects. An inkjet in this price range, such as the HP OfficeJet Pro 8100 ePrinter, will deliver even better color quality—and likely, better ink prices and speed—but if you must stick with color laser, you could do worse than the XPress C410W.
Though the Samsung Printer XPress C410W's NFC printing is a neat trick, it's compelling only in a world where NFC is everywhere. It's not. Of its other qualities, the look of the XPress C410W's output is its best suit and may compensate for the unit's mundane speed. We'd like this printer a lot better with more reasonable supply costs, though—at least a half-star better.