Lexmark X560n

This well featured multifunction printer is designed to be the office workhorse. Does it meet with Simon Williams' approval? Read on to find out.

We really do need an ISO standard for print speeds, as the measurement methods used by manufacturers vary considerably and most give outlandishly optimistic figures. Lexmark claims 30ppm for black printing on this machine and 20ppm for colour. This doesn't include page rasterisation time nor, if the machine is sleeping, it's warm-up time, or calibration' as the company calls it.

Our tests produced a fastest print time of 54 seconds for a 20-page, black text document, which gives a real-world print speed of 22ppm. This is by no means a poor speed, but is only just over two thirds of the specification.

Printing colour graphics as well as black text produced a speed of 12ppm for a five page document, again a fair speed, but considerably lower than the claim. A five-page colour photocopy took just under a minute and a 15 x 10cm photo print completed in an impressive 18 seconds.

The prints themselves are excellent. Black text is dense and sharp, even with the printer's 600dpi resolution. Colour graphics are vivid and bright, eminently suitable for business use and even photos, not normally a strong point of colour lasers, look less overblown and picture postcard' bright. The limited colour gamut of laser engines normally curbs any subtlety in photos, but this one is better than most, in this respect.

The scanner also has a resolution of 600dpi, but this is quite adequate for general office scanning and copying and more than enough for accurate OCR. There's no USB socket for walk-up scanning or printing, though.

The drum and toner cartridges are available in 4,000 and 10,000 page capacities, which again makes the default 250-page paper tray seem underspecified. The black cartridge is only available in the higher capacity, but for best economy it's best to fit high-capacity cartridges all round.

Using the best internet prices we could find for the cartridges gives costs per page of 1.1p for black and 4.5p for colour. Both these prices are good, making this machine an economical choice when printing black or colour. These costs, of course, assume that you'll be doing your own maintenance and in a small office this could be carried out by just about anybody, after simple training. If you prefer, you should be able to tie up a maintenance contract on the machine and pay by the page.

Verdict

This is a robust multifunction device, suited to a busy small business or a small workgroup. Despite its slightly dated looks, it's good in all important aspects, such as print quality, speed and running costs. Top tip - if you’re expecting to use the machine heavily, it's worth buying an extra paper tray from the outset.

In brief: 30ppm, A4 workgroup colour laser multifunction Resolution: 600 dpi Paper handling: 250-sheet paper tray, plus 150-sheet multi-purpose Duty cycle: Max 60,000 pages, monthly Connectivity: USB 2, 10/100 Ethernet, parallel Software: Emulated PCL6 and Adobe Postscript L3 drivers

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