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Samsung SCX-5635FN Product Reviews

High Technology Product Trends | Samsung SCX-5635FN Product Reviews
The Samsung SCX-5635FN ($500 street) is a serious monochrome laser multifunction printer (MFP) for a small office or a workgroup. It provides good print speed and paper handling, and a low cost per printed page. But though it provides an abundant range of all-in-one features, setting the printer up to take full advantage of them is unwieldy at best.

The boxy (18.4- by 17.1- by 18-inch), two-toned gray MFP weighs 41.5 pounds. Among its all-in-one features are printing, copying, faxing, and scanning—it copies, faxes, and scans either standalone or through a PC. It can scan to a computer, to e-mail, to an FTP or SMB server, or to a USB key.

Printer Category
Color or Monochrome
Technology (for laser category only)
Connection Type
USB, Ethernet, Wireless
Maximum Standard Paper Size
Direct Printing from Cameras
Rated speed at Default Resolution (Mono)
35 ppm
Standalone Copier and Fax
Copier, Fax
The SCX-5635FN's paper handling is good, between a 250-sheet tray (with an optional second 250-sheet tray available for $215), a 50-sheet multipurpose feeder, and automatic duplexing for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. The SCX-5635FN can print at up to legal size (8.5 by 14 inches). Its 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) is useful for scanning or copying long documents. The printer has a maximum duty cycle of 80,000 pages per month.

The basic setup (installation of software and cartridge, and connecting to a PC—in our case, over an Ethernet connection) is simple enough. It's getting some of the all-in-one features up and running that was a major chore. It required close perusal of the user manual (which installs as an HTML document during set-up), and quite possibly considerable time on the phone with tech support. Functions need to be set up piecemeal, a process that involves jumping between a number of tools: the printer's control pad menus; the SyncThru Web service (for network configuration); the Samsung Scan Manager; and SmarThru Office, a document management program that integrates print, scan, and fax functions.

Any feature is only useful if it works as advertised. Take the Scan to E-mail function—please. It allows—or should allow—someone to scan a document and e-mail it directly from the printer's front panel without the need of a computer. I tried to set it up (using two test accounts, one Earthlink, one GMail) through the SyncThru Web service, but couldn't get it to work. A Samsung technician was not able to, either, although he did get it running on my machine using another Earthlink account. As of press time, Samsung has been unable to determine why it worked with the tech support person's account but not with mine, so we can't determine how isolated the issue is.

The SCX-5635 can scan to e-mail in another, indirect way: by scanning an image to the e-mail client on your PC, opening a new message and attaching the file. It's not an option that initially appears on the printer's control pad, and it's not easy to find in the user guide. It's accessible through the Samsung Scan Manager, which resides in the Windows Control Panel. From that utility, it's easy enough to select an application (such as Outlook) to scan to, but without a close look at the user manual you might not know the option existed.

The SCX-5635FN is geared to small offices or workgroups in larger firms, but to get all its features up and running, a small business would require at least a very patient, tech-savvy person (if not a full IT staff) who could afford to spend a lot of time activating the features, and likely make several calls to tech support. Another option would be to buy it from a vendor who is willing to provide setup as part of the deal.

The SCX-5635FN can connect to a computer via USB 2.0 or to a network via Ethernet. WiFi (802.11b/g) is available as a $75 option. We tested it with a PC running Windows Vista; according to Samsung, it also comes with drivers for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7 (32- and 64-bit versions); Mac OS X 10.3-10.6, and Linux (it supports various distros).

The SCX-5635FN took 5 minutes 51 seconds to print our business applications test suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing), a very good time for a laser MFP. It edged out the Editors' Choice Brother MFC-8480DN ($400 street, 4 stars), which finished the suite in 6:06. If you're looking for a zippy monochrome laser but don't need the all-in-one features, consider the Editors' Choice OKI B431DN ($349.99 direct, 4 stars), which took 5:19.

The SCX-5635FN's output quality was fairly typical of a mono laser. All of the fonts in our text test were easily readable at 10-point size; more than half were also well formed at that size. Characters were crisp; there were some minor letter spacing problems in certain fonts. Text was good enough for any use short of a resume or other document that's designed to impress, or documents with very small type.

Graphics quality was on the low end of the scale for mono lasers we've tested, good enough for schoolwork or everyday internal business documents, but not for PowerPoint handouts, formal reports, or any documents going to clients you'd wish to impress. Among the issues we encountered were banding (horizontal lines of uneven color), poor definition of lines and edges, dithering (visible dot patterns instead of solid areas), and poor definition of lines and edges.

No one buys mono lasers to print photos, but even so, photo quality was toward the bottom of the narrow range in which the vast majority of its peers fall. The SCX-5635FN is good enough for printing out recognizable photos from Web pages and the like. Uneven distribution of ink gave dark areas a mottled or blotchy look.

A couple of bright spots are Samsung's claimed cost per printed page, just 1.3 cents, and the company's 1-year warranty, which provides next-day on-site service.

The Samsung SCX-5635FN is a solid mono laser MFP to anchor a small office or workgroup. It's reasonably fast and provides good paper handling. It has an abundance of all-in-one features, but getting them up and running could prove to be a major hassle. If you can get over that hurdle, you'll have an impressive machine that can save you money in printing costs over the long run. Be sure to compare it with the Editors' Choice Brother MFC-8480dn ($400 street, 4 stars), which is almost as fast as the SCX-5635FN, is feature rich, and provides good-quality output at a lower price.


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