At the tail-end of 2009 we took a look at Samsung’s ML-1915 mono laser printer, and thanks to its decent print quality and sheer value for money it scooped a Recommended award. Now Samsung has released the SCX-4600; a similarly low-priced laser, but this time with a built-in scanner unit.
As with many Samsung lasers, the chassis is an all-black affair, with smooth, rounded corners and a compact design. A small collection of buttons is joined by a two-line, monochrome LCD screen. This display sits flat on the top of the chassis and, since it can’t be tilted, can be difficult to read; it’s also not backlit, so viewing it in a darkened room is difficult.
The input tray is situated at the very bottom of the printer and can hold up to 250 sheets at a time, while the output tray can cope with 80 printed sheets. There’s also a manual single-sheet input at the front, allowing for tasks such as printing envelopes.
Accessing the toner simply requires the flap at the front to be opened. The toner is also the SCX-4600′s only consumable, so you don’t have to worry about replacing other items such as the imaging unit.
In terms of overall build quality the printer feels pretty solid, but the small flap that opens up on the output tray is very flimsy. Should you knock it as you walk past, there’s a good chance it will snap off.
As well as standard print, copy and scan features, Samsung has thrown in a few extras. The AnyWeb application is an interesting feature and lets you grab sections of websites and then collate them onto a single page ready for printing. There’s also a Print Screen tool, which simply prints either the active window or entire desktop at the press of a button.
Samsung’s also included an ID Copy function for the scanner. Accessed via a dedicated button on the printer, this lets you scan both sides of an ID card (or similar document) and have them printed side-by-side on a single sheet of paper.
A common issue with low-cost laser printers is that the total cost of ownership tends to be rather high. However, although the SCX-4600 isn’t exactly cheap to run, it’s not as expensive as we’d expected. It actually uses the same toner as the Samsung ML-1915, so you can pick up standard 1,500-page (£45 inc. VAT) or high-yield 2,500-page (£56 inc. VAT) cartridges. This results in reasonable printing costs of 3p and 2.2p per page for the standard and high-yield cartridges respectively. The downside is that it comes with a starter cartridge that’s only good for 700 pages.
Samsung rates the SCX-4600 at 22ppm, and our tests showed this to be spot-on. Of course, actual print job times will be slower than this figure since the time to get the first page out needs to be taken into account. Thankfully, this doesn’t add a huge amount on to the total print time, and with the printer in standby we found it took an average of eight-and-a-half seconds to get the first page out. Start it up from cold, though, and this increases to around 45 seconds.
As far as print quality goes, the SCX-4600 certainly isn’t left wanting. We compared its text prints to those from a vastly more expensive laser and the two were virtually indistinguishable. Unsurprisingly, photo prints aren’t anything to write home about and the scanner had trouble dealing with darker shades, but otherwise we’ve no complaints in terms of output quality.
It’s a shame Samsung couldn’t squeeze in network connectivity, but given its low price tag the fact the SCX-4600 is USB-only isn’t a huge surprise. Meanwhile, operating system support is excellent, with Windows, Mac and various Linux distributions all catered for.
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