The Good Speedy scanning, printing, and copying; extensive standalone and fax features; upgradable memory and networking capabilities; automated document feeder; Windows and Linux compatible.
The Bad Bulky; limited USB flash drive capabilities; scanner lid not removable; lacks document catcher in the back.
The Bottom Line The reliable, easy-to-use Samsung SCX-4720F has great performance but a few glitches, notably limitations on its USB flash drive reader.
Samsung SCX-4720F laser multifunction works quickly
Clean design, standalone copying and faxing, and cutting-edge features such as wireless-networking capability and a USB 2.0 flash drive reader make the Samsung SCX-4720F a plum pick for small businesses. Upgrade options, including memory and paper-tray expansion, ensure that this grayscale laser multifunction can grow with your organization. Of the laser multifunctions we've tested so far, this machine produced the best prints and ranked among the speediest workers, just behind the quick . But the SCX-4720F also has a few problems that may hamper some users. It lacks a document catcher in back that would keep paper from falling to the floor during print jobs on materials such as card stock that require a straight paper path. Also, this machine can read only a limited number of file formats from a USB flash drive. If you can live with these drawbacks and aren't dying to save desk space, this solid performer is a good value for your growing office. With its letter-size scanner lid, the Samsung SCX-4720F laser multifunction printer avoids the awkward T shape of many comparable multifunctions. Yet the top-loading automated document feeder (ADF) still allows you to scan legal-size documents. While you can raise the lid an inch to scan or copy thick books and files, you can't remove it to scan ultrachunky items. The well-placed yet shallow handgrips on the side of this 37.5-pound, 18-by-17-by-18-inch (WDH) appliance make it easy to move around.
A simple control panel angles downward from the top of the machine to support a variety of standalone functions. The power button is located on the back of the machine where you'll have to fumble among the cords. Unlike its competitors, such as the or the , this multifunction also features a USB 2.0 port which accepts a flash drive for PC-free scanning, printing, and other functions--a potential time-saver for busy or mobile small offices.
The Samsung SCX-4720F prints and copies quietly, connecting to your PC via a USB 2.0 or parallel port in the back. You'll have to buy the cables. Unlike the , the Samsung SCX-4720F doesn't ship with networking installed. To network wirelessly or via Ethernet, you'll need to purchase any necessary networking cables in addition to paying $179.99 for a wired network-interface card or $249 for a combined wired/wireless card.
A printed quick-install guide makes setup simple. The installation CD-ROM takes several minutes and a few mouse clicks to install both the printer drivers and Samsung's SmarThru software for scanning, printing, copying, and managing images. The SCX-4720F is compatible with Windows 95, 98, Me, NT 4.0, 2000, and XP. It also hooks up via USB to computers running these versions of Linux and higher: Red Hat 7.1, Mandrake 8.0, SuSE 7.1, Caldera OpenLinux 3.1, Turbolinux 7.0, and Slackware 8.1. The Samsung SCX-4720F laser multifunction can do most tasks without plugging into a computer. Logically grouped buttons on the control panel allow one-touch faxing and copying as well as PC-free printing from and scanning to a USB flash drive. A two-line LCD screen, though lacking backlighting, displays errors and guides you through menu options.
Printing is easy and feature rich. You can create your own watermarks, overlays, and page thumbnails and can even assign the first page of a document to separate paper stock. The SCX-4720F's many useful features make copying a breeze. An ADF on top lets you copy 50 sheets or fewer without lifting the scanner lid. The copier lets you collate, create a nine-page poster of an original, or resize copies from 25 percent to 400 percent. TWAIN-compatible scanning options even let you scan to a USB flash drive, an application, a folder, e-mail, or a Web site. But to scan using Windows XP, we had to download an earlier version of the Samsung SmarThru program, a step that would frustrate less tech-savvy users. Samsung ships the machine with the ImageEditor application for basic image manipulation. It also bundles OCR (optical character recognition) software.
The Samsung SCX-4720F offers an extensive array of fax features, unlike the otherwise comparable .You can store up to 40 numbers for one-touch dialing or 200 numbers for speed dialing. A delayed fax option lets you send documents during cheap toll times, and a Secure Receiving mode lets you discreetly store incoming faxes in memory. By using controls on the printer (but not by calling in), frequent travelers can set up the SCX-4720F to forward incoming faxes to another machine.
The USB 2.0 flash drive reader is an unusual yet uneven addition to this device. You can scan text and images, delete or format files, and back up your phone book to the drive. But the SCX-4720F will only print TIFF, BMP, TXT, and PRN files from the drive and scan BMP, TIFF, and PDF files to the drive, which excludes many popular image file formats, such as JPEGs and GIFs.
The Samsung SCX-4720F features a front-loading, 250-sheet paper tray with a 150-sheet output slot in front. Networked offices may want to add an optional 250-sheet tray for $149. The multipurpose tray can hold up to 50 sheets of transparencies, envelopes, or other media. You can flip up a cover in back of the machine to prevent persnickety printouts from curling, but without a document catcher, those sheets might float to the floor.
This multifunction comes with 32MB of memory, upgradable to 160MB through the DIMM slot. Samsung includes a 3,000-page starter toner-and-drum cartridge and sells cartridges at $79.99 for 3,000 pages--a per page cost of 2.7 cents--or $99.99 for 5,000 pages, for a better price of 2 cents per page. You can also set the machine to e-mail you when toner is running low and use the TonerSave method to squeeze more use out of the machine. Speed
The Samsung SCX-4720F passed CNET Labs' tests quietly and without glitches; it even fell into the energy-saving Sleep mode immediately after printing. It printed quickly, averaging 15.6 pages per minute (ppm) for text and 13.6ppm for graphics, scoring on a par with other multifunction devices in its class, such as the and the . The Samsung surpassed other contenders' scanning and copying speeds, turning out 6.3ppm for grayscale documents, compared to the average of 3.3ppm. This machine copied at a rapid 5.8ppm.
Among multifunction lasers, only the Samsung SCX-4720F rated excellent in both grayscale text and graphics. Even the smallest fonts were dark and sharp in our crisp black-text samples. Grayscale graphics were detailed, with smooth gradients, and showed depth in photographic images.
Grayscale scans showed good detail, although the darkest shades appeared charcoal rather than black. Still, gradients were smooth, without banding, and you could clearly detect a range of gray shades. The color scans suffered from a washed-out appearance resulting in a bleached, almost blurry look. Still, color matching, gradients, and details looked great, and the scanner didn't introduce errors into the images.
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