Lexmark MC3224adwe review: Compact and affordable

It’s expensive to run, but this desk-friendly colour laser delivers good output quality, security and print features

  • Small footprint
  • Speedy, high-quality output
  • Low entry price
  • Expensive running costs

Lexmark’s MC3224adwe is one of the smallest MFPs around, with a footprint of just 411 x 394mm. That will appeal to businesses that are short on office space – as will its feature set, which includes duplex printing as well as scan, copy and fax services, support for either wired or wireless connections and a 7.2cm colour touchscreen.

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The other thing that’s eye-catching about this particular model is its very low price, but be warned: cheap printers tend to be expensive to run, and the MC3224adwe is no exception. Its toner cartridges are only good for 1,500 pages each, which at current prices means you’ll be paying a steep 3.8p per mono page and a massive 16.8p for colour. 

Clearly, then, you won’t want staff to be printing things out willy-nilly – and the good news is that Lexmark provides plenty of access controls. From the tidy web interface, you can block all public access to print, copy and scan functions, while individual user accounts can be customised to determine what features each person is allowed to use.

When you do send it a print job, the MC3224adwe is no slouch in the speed stakes. Lexmark advertises a print rate of 22ppm, and our 22-page test Word document was indeed delivered in 59 seconds – albeit with a wait of ten seconds for the first page. Our challenging 24-page colour DTP Word document was dispatched at the same speed, while switching to double-sided printing reduced the average throughput to 12.2ppm.

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Scanning is pretty swift too, with a ten-page copy job completed at a brisk 17ppm. Note, though, that the ADF is only single-sided, so if you want to scan double-sided documents you’ll need to manually turn the pages over and run them through twice.

As for output quality, the Lexmark impressed us with razor-sharp 6pt text and plenty of detail in mono photos with barely a hint of banding. Colour reports look superb as well, with our performance chart showing super-smooth transitions across complex colour fades. And while lasers don’t always do a great job with colour photos, the MC3224adwe rendered our snaps with real energy and pizzazz.

Although the touchscreen is easy to use, its small size makes it quite fiddly when, for example, you want to set an email address as a destination to send scanned images to. An easier option is to use the web interface to set up scan shortcuts: these can include email addresses, FTP servers, fax numbers and network shares, all of which will then appear on the panel, ready to be accessed with a couple of taps.

Lexmark’s Windows driver provides plenty of job control features too, allowing users to choose single-sided or duplex printing, create booklets and posters, and store commonly used print jobs for future use. Security is well covered: you can assign a PIN to confidential prints before walking up and releasing them at the printer, and when printing multiple copies, you can proof the first run before releasing the rest. 

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One disappointment is that the MC3224adwe doesn’t currently support Lexmark’s Cloud Connector feature, which allows scanning and printing directly to and from OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive cloud accounts; hopefully this will be added soon in a firmware update. 

On the upside, both AirPrint and Wi-Fi Direct are supported, and Lexmark also offers mobile apps for Android and iOS: we were able to print documents, web pages and photos directly from our iPad, and you can remotely capture scans and share the printer with other installed apps. 

The running costs of the Lexmark MC3224adwe make it unsuitable for a high-volume print and copy role – but if you need an MFP for light use then all the features you could ask for are here, along with great output quality in a compact and affordable package.

Lexmark MC3224adwe specifications

Format

600dpi A4 colour laser MFP

Print speed

22ppm

CPU

1GHz dual-core CPU

RAM

512MB RAM 

Display

7.2cm colour touchscreen

Networking

10/100 Ethernet, 802.11n wireless

Connectivity

33.6Kbits/sec fax/modem,  1 x RJ-11

Print type

Duplex

Tray size

250-sheet paper tray

Recommended monthly duty cycle

2,000 pages

Dimensions

411 x 394 x 344mm

Weight

19.4kg

Warranty

1yr on-site repair warranty management, 5yr limited warranty

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