Each function of the X342n can be customized to some extent. When copying, you can opt to fit multiple pages onto a single sheet by shrinking them; optimize the output by designating the original as text, photo, or mixed; and change the darkness of the output. We found an odd quirk when resizing pages for copying: the up button shrinks the page, while the down button blows it up--totally counterintuitive. As for scanning, the included software--Qlink, Presto Page Manager, and Abbyy--can help you. With Presto, you can convert file formats, initiate scans, and preview different file types. Abbyy lets you scan a document to an editable form, such as text or HTML. And Qlink lets you scan to a number of different programs, such as Office, PowerPoint, and Excel; Acrobat; and Microsoft Paint. Scan formats include PDF, TIFF, and JPEG. Unlike the Dell 1815dn, though, you can't scan to a flash thumbdrive, though. When it comes to faxing, the X342n again has fewer options than the Dell 1815dn. While you can perform standard tasks, such as broadcasting or delaying an outgoing fax, you can't set up a secure receive or forward incoming faxes to e-mail addresses or fax to e-mail addresses.
The Lexmark X342n was both better and worse than the Dell in overall performance. In our speed tests, it fell just behind the Dell 1815dn in every category except copying, where it excelled, spitting out 13.19 pages per minute (ppm) to the Dell's 12.29ppm. Like the Dell, the X342n printed black graphics a tad faster than it printed black text: 18.48ppm for the former and 17.13ppm for the latter.
Print quality, however, is a different story. At larger point sizes (about 6 points and larger), the Lexmark printed black text just fine: the letters were cleanly formed, and the color looked uniform. Smaller text, when looked at under a loupe, showed some problems. At very small point sizes, the letters looked spindly and unevenly spaced. Some letters looked thicker than others, indicating an unevenness in laying down toner.
The Lexmark also edged out the Dell in printing grayscale graphics: it handled both shadows and highlights better, preserving details that the Dell lost. Likewise, the Lexmark X342n handled scans better than the Dell did. In the grayscale scan test, the X342n again showed better handling of highlights and shadows than the Dell, which tended to lose detail on either end of the grayscale. The color scans also showed good detail, though the colors looked a bit washed-out.