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Michael Brown May 05, 2010

Lexmark X264dn Multifunction Laser Printer

At A Glance

Scanners

Excellent print performance; easy setup; good quality print output; affordable.

Spanners

Abysmal scanning software; high-capacity tray and Wi-Fi cost extra.

Lexmark’s multifunction laser offers great printing performance, but its scanning software is nearly useless.

In this age of online documents, sometimes you still need a fast printer that kills trees. If you’re a small legal office, print large preview documents for clients or need high capacity archival printing, a fast laser printer with capacious paper trays is still incredibly useful. Toss in fax and scanning capabilities, plus network connectivity and an affordable price, and the Lexmark X264dn seems to offer all the ingredients for a killer all-in-one device for small workgroups that don’t need color.

Priced less than $400 (we’ve seen it selling for less than $300 online), the X264dn offers 1,200x1,200 dpi print quality, 30-page-per-minute print speed, a 250 sheet input tray, and a 150-page output tray. An optional, 550-sheet input tray is also available. The scanner/fax includes a 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF) for copying or faxing longer documents. Scanner resolution tops out at a modest 600 dpi, but that’s good enough for most office environments. The copier offers the usual array of adjustments, including shrinking or enlarging (25-400%) and darkness settings.

The printer can print double-sided documents as well as produce double-sided copies of single-sided originals. But since the ADF is not capable of duplex operation, this second operation must be accomplished by hand. There’s also no envelope input tray, so you can only print one envelope at a time.

Our five-page test document, consisting of mixed graphics, text and photos, printed in just 19.2 seconds from a cold start. (That’s the time taken from pressing the “print” button in Microsoft Word until final output.) Copying the same five pages (single-sided) took 21.5 seconds.

Printer cartridges are available in standard and high capacity sizes. The high capacity cartridge is rated to print 9,000 pages, and typically costs around $234. That translates to a 2.6 cents cost per page. You can opt to buy a “return program cartridge,” which you ship back to Lexmark for recycling. You’ll save some money if you opt for the return program, since the same high-capacity cartridge costs approximately $190. That reduces per page costs to 2.1 cents.

The Lexmark X264dn is a beefy, bulky device, weighing in at 43 pounds out of the box; you won’t regret asking for someone’s help to unpack it. Physical setup is a fairly complex process—many components are taped down for shipping and finding every last bit of tape is a chore. That’s just a one-time process, of course.

With the exception of 64-bit Windows 7 drivers, which we had to find and download from Lexmark’s website, the printer’s installation disc provides robust operating-system support, including most other flavors of Windows, various versions of Linux, MacOS, Solaris, and more.

The X264dn is an office device, supporting both USB 2.0 and hardwired Ethernet connections. The unit lacks built-in Wi-Fi capability, so you’ll need to buy a Wi-Fi print server if you’re environment requires wireless network access to the printer.  Once connected to the network, software setup is simple and straightforward. Printing is simple and the control panel gives you all the usual options for output quality, duplex settings, and so on. You can even set the ability to watermark your output, so you can track revisions or keep tabs on sensitive documents.

Faxing is also fairly simple, and the Lexmark supports the usual sets of features, including the creation of phone books and faxing from lists. The two-line LCD, however, renders adding contacts a tedious effort. Scanning, on the other hand, is a royal pain. First, scanning appears to be a manual process. You start the scan in software, then walk over to the printer to initiate a “scanning profile.” Then you walk back to the computer and receive the document. If you’re scanning over a network, you can’t even see a preview scan, or make adjustments. Compared to the elegance of Epson’s network-scanning software, the Lexmark scanning solution is a major fail. Even HP’s clunky, slow scanning software is more network aware.

The Lexmark X264dn is a solid workgroup printer with the added capability of copying and faxing; but if your office’s workflow requires more than occasional document scanning, there are better solutions.

Editor's Note: This review was corrected on May 4, 2010 to correct an error introduced during editing. The correction had no impact on our verdict.

THE VERDICT

Lexmark X264dn Multifunction Laser Printer

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