summary While the Samsung SF-565P most resembles a traditional fax machine, it offers all the features of a multifunction monochrome laser printer, including a sheetfed scanner. The affordable Samsung's SF-565P has a vendor-rated 17ppm, 600dpi print engine that delivers impressive print quality. However, since the sheetfed scanner's optical resolution tops out at a faxlike 200dpi, grayscale scans--and, to a lesser extent, copies--leave something to be desired. Compared to the similar Brother MFC-8220 or the HP LaserJet 3015, the Samsung SF-565P is slower, offers fewer fax options, and can't be networked. But the Samsung SF-565P is also much less expensive, and it includes a good software package. For the home user, this is enough, but small business should opt for the network-capable and very fast Brother instead. The Samsung's SF-565P is compact and almost portable. It occupies very little desk space at 16 inches wide by 15 inches deep by 12 inches high, and it weighs a mere 20 pounds. The automatic document feeder holds up to 20 pages of input for faxing, copying, or scanning. Scanned pages pass under the control panel and slide into the recessed output slot, which also catches incoming faxes, finished prints, and copies.
The Samsung's SF-565P's lower front wall drops to let you access a combination toner cartridge/imaging drum that slides in and out on a rack. Just in front of the toner door, another flap covers a slot for a single sheet or an envelope. Located at the base is the main 250-sheet paper tray. We wish there were additional trays available for this model.
On the back of the machine, there is a USB port, a parallel port (neither cable is included), and two phone jacks, the second of which you'll use to attach the optional handset or an external answering machine. This is a good selection of hardware options.
Unfortunately, we found that the Samsung's SF-565P's software installation required a bit more attention than most Windows-compatible hardware devices. For example, after volunteering to install Acrobat Reader, the installation app didn't automatically return us to the main installation sequence. Also, the printer driver installation and SmarThru control software installation require two separate procedures.
While its software extras more than make up for it, the Samsung SF-565P's control panel leaves much to be desired. Unlike that of the Brother MFC-8220, the two-line LCD on the Samsung lacks backlighting, and its messages are often obscure. For example, if you leave the handset off hook, the LCD simply displays Phone, while Receive Code means the machine is set to automatically receive incoming fax messages. And unlike most control panel-equipped printers and multifunction printers we've seen, the Samsung SF-565P can't print its menu structure for navigation--a major inconvenience. We made sense of the menus only after scrolling through them all with the arrow buttons.
The Samsung's fax features aren't as robust as the Brother MFC-8220's. They do let you block up to 10 numbers that send junk faxes and enter a fax-forward number before you go on the road, but you can't update this number remotely. The printer also lets you set up a secure mode so that incoming faxes wait in memory instead of printing, but the holding tank is limited to a mere 2MB of memory of the 4MB total (in comparison, the Brother MFC-8220 offers 32MB in total). We do like the Samsung's SF-565P's Broadcast button, which makes sending broadcast faxes a simple affair instead of a programming challenge. The 20 one-touch buttons on the control panel have a paper template where you can record assignment and a plastic cover to protect them; however, we wish Samsung would also sell replacement templates.
Luckily, Samsung's accompanying software is far superior to the half-baked control panel. The SmarThru control program incorporates an automatic optical character recognition (OCR) engine and provides an image database for archiving scans on your PC's hard drive, plus it has another tool for archiving sent and received faxes. It also has a module for writing e-mail and sending faxes from your PC, along with a cover-letter generator, which not only provides impressive design features but also lets you autofill fields, such as name, title, and company, from your Microsoft Outlook address book database.
The Samsung SF-565P's replacement toner cartridge costs $100 for a vendor-rated life of 3,000 pages. That works out to 3.3 cents per page of text, which is right for a standard toner cartridge. Unfortunately, Samsung doesn't offer a high-yield cartridge for this printer, making the overall consumables cost a tad high for the lifetime of a laser printer.
In CNET Labs tests, the Samsung SF-565P multifunction printer offered a mixed bag of results. In performance tests, the Samsung printed both text and graphics at about 12 pages per minutes (ppm). In comparison, the HP LaserJet 3015 prints text at a comparable 12.4ppm and graphics at 9.8ppm. In the same class, the Brother MFC-8220 prints text at a very speedy 16.2ppm and graphics at an amazing 15.2ppm.
The Samsung makes up for its lack of speed by offering very good print quality. The printed text in our CNET Labs test was excellent, with great sharpness and crispness in all font sizes. Even the smallest fonts were easy to read with the naked eye. Our graphics print samples showed some gradient but looked very good overall.
Scanner and copy performance
The Samsung can't scan in color--only grayscale. In CNET Labs tests, the SF-565P scanned a grayscale image at 3.4ppm, faster than the HP LaserJet 3015's 1.3ppm but only half as fast as the Brother MFC-8220's 6.4ppm. The Samsung SF-565P's copying speed was also sluggish, averaging a mere 2.2ppm, which compares poorly alongside the HP LaserJet 3015's 4.1ppm and the Brother MFC-8220's zippy 7.5ppm.
While the Samsung's print quality looked great, its scan quality was the opposite. The scanned images looked just like a fax document--that is, muddied and grainy--complete with a lot of vertical banding and discoloration.
As for performance, the Samsung SF-565P is a decent laser printer that offers great print quality. However, it doesn't make a very good scanner/copier. We tested this printer with its default factory settings, however, which you may be able to adjust to improve output.
Print and scan quality performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
When compared against Brother's and HP's policies, Samsung's support for the Samsung SF-565P seems less than generous, even for a device that costs only $300. Samsung's one-year warranty doesn't cover depot shipping, nor does it provide onsite service, and Samsung packs the SF-565P with a "starter" cartridge, good for only your first 1,000 pages.
However, Samsung does provide lifetime access to telephone tech support on a toll-free line, which operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. Samsung also ships two excellent PDF manuals on the installation CD; one covers the device itself and the other plumbs the depths of SmarThru. Printed documentation is limited to a setup poster. The company's Web site hosts driver and documentation downloads, along with free e-mail access to tech support.