Lexmark CS431dw review: A convincing colour laser
The CS431dw combines decent print quality at quick speeds with reasonable running costs
Unless we're very much mistaken, Lexmark's CS431dw is a Xerox printer in disguise. Other than some minor differences in the colour and detail, this squat, boxy laser printer is almost identical to the bottom half of the Xerox C235 multifunction printer - and that's no bad thing.
Not only is it about as attractive as you can reasonably expect a business-focused laser machine to be, Lexmark packs in almost as many features as its Xerox-branded twin. For less than £300, the CS431dw offers four-colour printing, Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet, all controlled with the help of a full-colour touchscreen. To top it off, there's a 250-sheet cassette, duplex printing as standard, and claimed speeds of 24.7ppm in black or colour.
This printer contains only a small amount of packing material, but it's easy to miss the red plastic ring pulls on its toner cartridges - fortunately, the printer detected that we had, nudging us to pull them out and try again. We noticed a small amount of black toner spill on the first couple of pages, after which print quality was very high. Unfortunately, we might say the same for whoever settled on this device's default colour correction - colour prints are lurid until you turn it off altogether in the driver.
Once you've done this, though, there's plenty more to like about this printer. It's reasonably quick, hitting 19ppm in our black text test, and managing 14.8ppm in our far more demanding colour graphics document. At 9.2 images per minute, its duplex performance wasn't too bad, either.
The CS432dw delivered the crisp black text we'd expect, but its colour prints were something of an enigma. With colour correction off, most photos and graphics printed with accurate colours, and a consistent and appealing sheen. However, tweak as we might, we couldn't find a single setting that got the best from every photo, graphic or PowerPoint slide we tried. Constantly fiddling with colour modes will quickly get tiring.
Still, this printer adds to its appeal with reasonable running costs. Stick to Lexmark's Return Programme cartridges - which need to be sent back to Lexmark for recycling - and you'll pay only 1.7p per mono page and 8.9p in colour. That's not bad, and the 6,000-page (black) and 6,700-page (colour) consumables help keep maintenance down, too. Taken together, that makes for a convincing colour laser.
Lexmark CS431dw specifications
|Format||4,800dpi A4 colour laser printer|
|Print speed||19/14.8ppm mono/colour|
|Display||7.2cm colour touchscreen|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 5|
|Tray size||250-sheet cassette|
|Recommended monthly duty cycle||75,000 pages (max)|
|Dimensions||244 x 411 x 394mm|
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