Lexmark X9350

Welcome to another review of an all in one printer scanner and photocopier but this time with a twist and some snazzy cool new features from IBM spin-off printer division, Lexmark. With nearly four years spent in the electrical retailing industry, I’m quite familiar with Lexmark products being the cheap and affordable with great features but perhaps a tad bit more expensive on the cartridges. It’s important to note however that this particular model is the top of the end line for the new Lexmark range, which is a do it all device with fax, print, photocopy and scanning.

The four colour printing system produces good results for documents and basic graphics but when it comes to photos you do need the optional ‘Photo’ cartridge that brings a couple of extra colours to the print head so you can achieve the best quality at its maximum output of 4800 x 1200.Printing speeds are rated at 32 ppm (pages per minute) with draft mono print outs and 27 ppm in draft colour.Likewise with the printing, the scanner can manage resolutions up to 4800 x 1200, which is adjustable in the software settings or on the printer menu itself.Software and driver support is available for Windows 2000 systems and upwards right up to Vista 64-bit edition and even Apple Mac users will be able to use this Lexmark All-In-One.The X9350 supports a multitude of connectivity options from Ethernet to a first for a printer, and that’s the 802.11g wireless printing.A multi-format memory card reader that supports flash memory cards from old to new are mostly all present

With a glossy white finish to the bulk of the X9350, this rather large multi-functional printer looks as though it does everything and in fairness it does hold some truth. The top portion of the printer holds the photocopying and scanning functionality with an automatic document feeder for the scanner, the first I’ve seen in a consumer/home-office set up, as well as the normal flat bed scanner. Whilst using this 50-sheet document feeder, you can scan multiple documents or photocopy a multi-page document and have it produce a file containing those scans or print multiple copies of that multi-page document.Lift up the entire scanning and photocopying portion of the printer reveals the cartridge bays where you will find room for two cartridges that slot straight in to the containers.

Unfortunately Lexmark have yet to follow the likes of Epson with separate ink tanks for each colour. This results in a higher runner cost for the printer since you won’t be able to use up all of the available ink inside of the colour cartridge (unless you use the same amount of each colour per print).

The control system for this whole device is situated on the front panel that sticks out at an angle and encompasses a numbered dial pad, the 2.4-inch colour screen and the various print, power and menu buttons. Using the nicely sized display, which can pop out, allows you to preview pictures from the memory card slot located on the bottom right of the printer as well as accessing the standalone functionality and settings.

Colour reproduction from the X9350 gave crisp clear black text that could be scaled to tiny fonts without any clarity problems. Photo printing is a slightly different story when using the standard print cartridges. I experienced green banding lines appearing on some of the A4 prints that I did from my trip to the zoo a few days ago. This was disappointing as it wasn’t a one-off, printing different pictures showed this flaw a few but not every time.Wireless Printing worked a charm with very fast and simple set up and when it comes right down to it, the process of printing via wireless is something we have all wanted and dreamed of for a very long time. There have been Bluetooth variations but they have never taken off and now that wireless networks are so prominent in home offices, work environments and even just at home, the X9350 can just tap in to that with no mess of cables. The only issue that I have with the fact that it’s wireless is that you have to disconnect from the network that your connected to and connect directly to the WiFi signal being distributed from the printer so it’s essentially an Ad-Hoc connection so if you want to access the internet in the mean time then you’re out of luck.As with many other multi-function printers, a one touch photocopying button is available on the keypad interface so you can make instant prints without having to boot up your machine.

Lexmark have produced a very good all rounder at a price although high compared to similar printers, offers much more therefore justifying the cost (around £180 when this review was posted). There are a few caveats to the X9350 which can perhaps be said about most of the Lexmark line and that’s the actual definition of colour prints even when using high quality photo paper, results just don’t appear to be the same as prints I’ve seen from Canon and Epson machines. Granted this device is not a dedicated photo printer, but with a slight leaning towards that area, I was expecting more.If you’re looking for the jack-of-all-trades printer, then this has to be it. There’s nothing missing save making coffee whilst you wait for your prints because there’s a photo printer, scanner, photocopier, fax machine and it can even do it all via a wireless connection or over a cabled Ethernet network. Lexmark have even thrown in a multi-sheet feeder and duplex printing in to the package. What more could you ask for?

Separate ink tanks! We all know it will save us money in the long term not to mention being more environmentally friendly since we will be using up all of our inks rather than throwing them away prematurely.Print quality is still not quite up there with the masters of photo printing like Canon and Epson but Lexmark have never made the claim to be the best for this market, and with acceptable but not brilliant results, the occasional print will do just fine.The usual features that are found in so many multi-functional printers today can be found right here in the Lexmark, but there’s very few others that also offer the extras and the key things that I think that sets this one apart is the multi-document feeder and wireless printing capabilities. For some of you out there, wireless printing will be a godsend.

2007-06-15 Onwah Tsang

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