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Lexmark X736de review

These days, office workgroup printers need to be not just fast, but smart and secure too, as well as capable of producing great quality. We see if the Lexmark X736de is up to the task.

Duplex print often slows prints down substantially and here the 20-page document returned 12 sides per minute, which is a little on the sluggish side. Even so, it's not slow enough to prevent duplex mode being set as standard in many businesses.

Duplex scanning is standard on the X736de, but only with what Americans call a peek-a-boo paper path, which is also used by the duplex print engine. The paper exits from the scanner after the first side of each page has been scanned, but is then fed back in to scan the second side, as the scanner head itself is single-sided. In fact, each duplex scanned page is fed back through a third time, to turn it round and keep the source document collated.

If this seems a little long-winded, the whole process still manages to keep pace with the print engine in a duplex copy, so isn't a problem. Interleaving of scanning and printing is generally good, so our 20-page simplex copy took just 46 seconds.

Print quality is one of the features for which Lexmark is rightly renowned. Black text is sharp and clean and, even when printing two pages to the sheet, one of the eco-offerings in the printer's arsenal, remains clear and easy to read. Colour graphics are bright and rich, so areas of solid fill look... well, solid.

Colour copies don't do quite so well, with blues showing a slightly purple cast and some bands of lighter colour apparent. For general purpose office work, though, they're acceptable. Finally, photo images are a little over-vivid to be fully natural, but for many purposes will also be adequate.

Consumables are available in two capacities: 8,000 and 12,000 pages for black and 6,000 and 10,000 for colour. The typical costs for these cartridges give page costs of 1.03p and 8.93, respectively, for the high capacity, Return Programme cartridges, but this machine is available to lease, so you can pay by the click, if you prefer. Print costs are better than many, with the colour cost particularly attractive.

Lexmark has a comprehensive recycle programme for used consumables and depending on the size of the customer, can offer pre-paid envelopes or bin-collection facilities for used cartridges. It claims a take-up rate of 78 per cent for its recycling efforts in the UK.

Verdict

A versatile colour laser multifunction made particularly easy to use through a well-designed and flexible colour touchscreen. While there’s plenty of input flexibility, there's no output expansion. Duplex print, copy and scan, plus full fax facilities and good remote monitoring and control make this a good network tool for a medium-sized workgroup.

Claimed PPM: 33ppm black and colour, Resolution: 1,200 dpi Paper handling: 550-sheet paper tray, plus 100-sheet multi-purpose Duty cycle: Average 3,000-10,000, max 85,000 pages, monthly Connectivity: USB 2.0, 10/100 Ethernet Software: Emulated PCL6 and Postscript L3 drivers

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