IT Pro Verdict
Great output quality
Strong cloud support
Speedy print times
Running costs are slightly steep
Lexmark’s GO Line series of lasers is aimed at businesses with relatively light printing needs, and within that family the C3426dw is the top-end colour model. It delivers good speeds and excellent output quality for a low starting price: the trade-off is running costs, which are a little steeper than you’ll find with other lasers. The starter cartridges supplied with the C3426dw are only rated for 1,500 pages, after which Lexmark’s 4,500-page high-yield replacements work out to 1.9p per mono page and 10.4p for colour.
As long as you can live with that, the C3426dw is a very respectable A4 colour laser, with a swift 26ppm print speed in both colour and mono, and integrated duplex printing. Paper capacity is ample for its intended role, comprising a 250-sheet lower tray (which can be supplemented with one or two extra 250-sheet trays) plus a single-sheet MPT and a 100-sheet output bin. It’s user-friendly too, thanks to a 7.2cm colour touchscreen – a big step up from the little two-line LED displays found on cheaper GO Line models.
As you’d expect, the C3426dw can be used with a direct USB connection, but also supports both Ethernet and 802.11n wireless. We found setting up the latter impressively painless thanks to Lexmark’s Mobile Assistant iOS app, which automatically located the printer and helped us connect and configure it.
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Lexmark cagily promises print speeds of “up to” 26ppm, but our tests showed that this is easily attainable once the printer has warmed up: our 26-page test Word document was delivered in 61 seconds, after a wait of around ten seconds for the first page. A graphic-heavy DTP document proved more of a challenge, but print speed dipped only slightly to 24ppm. Double-sided prints from Word came out at 13ppm, cutting performance precisely in half.
These speeds were all achieved using Lexmark’s default 4800CQ resolution – equivalent to 2,400 x 600dpi – and we really can’t fault the quality. Text was perfectly sharp and clean at sizes right down to 6pt, while mono photos revealed high levels of detail even in darker areas, with only a hint of banding. Colour reports were vivid and eye-catching, and our test chart looked superb, with smooth, even transitions across complex fades. The driver offers a standard 600dpi mode as well, but we found this made no noticeable difference to quality or speed.
With such great results, and relatively high running costs, you might need to prevent staff from using the C3426dw for personal prints. This is easily done via the printer’s web console: you can block all public access to mono or colour printing with a click, and set up user accounts to determine what features each person is allowed to use.
Document security, meanwhile, is taken care of by a walk-up-and-print option that holds sensitive jobs until a PIN is entered at the touchscreen; frequently printed documents can be stored on the printer for future use, and when printing multiple copies you can proof one copy before releasing the rest.
Cloud support is strong too. Lexmark’s Cloud Connector portal lets you link Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive accounts to the printer, after which a PIN-protected icon for each one appears on the touchscreen, from which you can browse and print files. We could also use Lexmark’s Mobile Print iOS app on an iPad to print documents, web pages and photos, and share the printer with other installed apps. The printer doesn’t have an NFC sensor for tap-to-print operations, but it does support AirPrint and Wi-Fi Direct.
If you regularly print hundreds of pages per day then there are more economical printers out there, but SMBs with modest printing needs will find the C3426dw a worthy choice. It has enough security features to keep a tight rein on usage plus good cloud support, and output quality is a match for much more expensive lasers.
Lexmark C3426dw specifications
|Format||600dpi A4 colour laser|
|Print speed||26ppm colour/mono|
|CPU||Dual-core 1GHz CPU|
|Display||7.2cm colour touchscreen|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless|
|Tray size||250-sheet drawer, single-sheet manual feed slot|
|Recommended monthly duty cycle||2,500 pages|
|Dimensions||411 x 394 x 244mm (WDH)|
|Warranty||4yr warranty on registration|
|Options (exc VAT)||250-sheet lower tray, £97 exc VAT|
Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.
Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.