Product Type: Lexmark All in one Printer
Newest Review: ... like older mobile phone models would compared to new. ** Ink ** The prices of ink for the X4550 are on the average scale when compari... more
Wireless, But Not Effortless!
Member Name: luxuryliner
Advantages: Reasonable quality printing, wireless enabled...
Disadvantages: ...but only when it wants to be!
The Lexmark X4550 is an attractive bit of kit. It's silver and light grey in colour, rectangular (29cm by 45cm) with a standard paper feed at the top and an extendible tray at the bottom to catch the printouts before they fall all over the floor. Unlike some models of printer I've had, the paper tray actually works and nothing ever seems to go on the floor. I haven't weighed the printer myself but according to Lexmark it's 5.8kg. The top of the printer lifts up to reveal a 48-bit A4 flatbed scanner, and on a sticking-out bit just under the scanner is a very high-tech looking 'console', which has the power buttons, controls and a backlit LCD display for status information and instructions. To the right of the 'console' is the wireless active/inactive light, which tells you if the wireless is working or not; underneath this are two memory card slots and a socket for connecting a camera directly to the printer. You can connect the printer to a computer with a USB socket which is at the back along with the mains cable.
The printer arrived in a large cardboard box with what seemed like a ton of packaging (I understand that the manufacturer doesn't want to damage their goods in transit, but all those extra little sticky blue strips and the millions of extra foamy bits just seem...wasteful to me.) The box also contained an installation CD, an instruction manual, a quick start guide and some cartridges. Once I'd got it out of its trappings, setting the beast up was actually very simple - far easier than setting up the Canon had been, for example.
I wanted to connect it to both the main PC and my laptop, so I did both the USB and wireless installation - USB was a doddle, just stick the CD in and the software pretty much sorts it all out. I liked how easily it 'found' the printer without me having to fiddle about with it for ages. Wireless setup is a little bit trickier but still pretty easy: it needs to be connected by USB while it's installing, but again the CD takes you through the installation process quite well and I didn't have any initial problems. A word of warning - I've got reliable and usually steady wireless connection, but I reckon that if your wireless connectivity isn't that good or tends to be erratic, getting this printer to work would be a real pain.
The CD also downloads the "Lexmark Solution Centre" software onto your computer, which I must admit I've never actually used but has the means to maintain your printer and also contains Imaging Studio in which you can download images, scan documents and turn pages into text you can edit.
I'm going to be fair about this and say that in general, the Lexmark X4550 is a reasonable printer. I've been using it for about 1 year now and it generally performs well: I've printed hundreds of pages, including photos, and they've always turned out well. Scanning and copying, too, have usually been easy and the documents come out clear and readable. I've printed a couple of photos onto photo paper and they've been passable - not great but clear enough. I'm particularly keen on the 'standalone copy' function, which means you can just stick your document into the scanner, press 'copy' and out comes the copy - no need to scan it in then print it out. The function is available in black and white and colour.
On the other hand, the print speed isn't always brilliant and it certainly isn't up to the speed advertised: Lexmark would have you believe that this machine can do 15 pages per minute in black and 6 pages per minute in colour, but in reality I tend to find it's more like 5 or 6 pages per minute in black and white, with colour being MUCH slower. It's not terrible, but when you need something in a hurry it can be frustrating.
It's also a very noisy printer. For some unapparent reason, the printing software has a loud, American voiceover which bellows, "PRINTING STARTED!" as soon as, well, printing has started, and "PRINTING COMPLETE!" when, you guessed it, printing is complete. Coupled with the loud, not to mention weird, "SHREEE! SHREEE! SHREEE!" noise the printer itself makes, it all makes for a less than relaxing experience. Fine if the printer is tucked away in a study somewhere, much less so if it's in a living room or open-plan area. You've been warned!
As I've said, I've had the printer for about a year and honestly hadn't had any problems with it until recently. It's easy to use, intuitive and clearly organised in terms of buttons and trays etc. Lately, however, it's been quite erratic in its habits - sometimes it's fine, at other times it refuses to communicate with the computer no matter what I do. I'm certain it's not a problem with the wireless as everything else to do with the wireless works fine. It's also prone to stopping suddenly and deciding that it's lost the connection with my laptop in the middle of printing a page, which is seriously annoying. These problems seem to be restricted to wireless use, as printing from the desktop PC via USB still works absolutely fine.
The Lexmark X4550 takes two cartridges: black and colour. You can buy official Lexmark ones but there are also cut-price compatible cartridges available (Lexmark say that using these voids the warranty, but frankly I don't mind this and would rather not pay full whack for branded ones). Really I'd prefer to see individual coloured cartridges as it avoids waste when you run out of one colour, but I think this may well be a feature of a slightly newer printer so I can't complain too much. In terms of how much printing you can get out of the cartridges, it's difficult for me to say as I do a variety of different types of prints - sorry to be so unspecific, but I do know that they last a fair while if you're not printing photos, which I rarely do. Genuine Lexmark cartridges cost about £15 per cartridge and the cut-price ones are about £10 each.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
I bought my Lexmark X4550 for about £90 a year ago. It's now been discontinued and is difficult to find, but if you're desperate to find one, I have seen them in my local Currys so check there. If not, I'd recommend second-hand or refurbished PC goods shops.
This is a good bit of kit that performs reasonably well and is relatively cheap to run. It's by no means perfect, though, and I'm also sure that there are far better and newer models out there with less erratic wireless technology. Go for it if you manage to find a cheap one in a second-hand shop and you're happy to just use it as a USB connected printer.
Summary: A reasonable printer, but there are better 2-in-1s out there.