Lexmark builds a better multifunction printer
Superior to its predecessors, the X646e prints, copies, faxes, and scans to networkFollow @infoworld
It also can erase edges (although not gutters) — useful for cleaning up headers or footers, hole-punch marks, and so on from the originals. It lets users interrupt a long job to squeeze in a quick one, and delete pending copy, print, and fax jobs. A USB port on the control panel can read and print PDFs and JPGs on a flash drive and save scans to the drive. Users can send print jobs to wait on the X646e in public or password-protected folders, but they can’t scan something directly to the machine’s internal hard drive.
I find scanning to the network somewhat awkward, perhaps because it isn’t a control-panel function. You have to configure a scan setting Profile in a browser, push it to the X646e, run over to the machine, and make your scan — then start all over again for a new scan; Profiles don’t persist on the machine. On the other hand, this functionality is free; HP, in contrast, equips its MFPs with only a demo copy of its scan-to-network software. You can preview scans (and faxes) on the control panel LCD.
The X646e tore through my performance tests — no surprise considering its 50-ppm engine. It printed multiple copies of a plain text document at 45.9 ppm, and made multiple copies of the same document at 45.1 ppm; it hit almost 39 ppm when printing and copying heavily marked PowerPoint slides.
Its print quality also impressed me, but not so much its copy quality. Printed text has a dark black look, with no shadow or soft edges, and despite being a monochrome printer, grayscale photos come out with reasonably good detail and textures. However, large areas of color converted to grays show some streaking and patchiness.
Copied text has a grayish tone; white dots or drop-outs interfere with text quality on smaller type sizes; and copied color documents show the same kind of streaking and patchiness as when printed. The graphics copy quality is what you expect from a mono copier, but I was hoping for better text copies.
Lexmark includes a year of on-site warranty in the price; one extra year costs $589, two more cost $1,078, and three more cost $1,599.
Lexmark has made good progress with MFPs since we reviewed the X646e’s predecessor, the X830e, about 18 months ago. The X646e is versatile, moderately priced, and reasonably easy to use. But the machine’s copy quality may put off some potential customers, and Lexmark needs to reconsider its basic scan-to-network interface.
In this review, we reversed the Bottom Line Box scores for Output Quality and Speed, but it did not affect the product's overall score. The Output Quality score should have been 7 and the Speed score should have been 9. InfoWorld regrets the error, which has been corrected.
The PC World Test Center contributed methodology and logistical support to this project.