The Lexmark X4270 All-In-One is an affordable four-color inkjet multifunction printer that prints either by itself or via your PC. It faxes, scans, and copies monochrome and color documents, but although the Lexmark X4270 is vendor-rated to print up to a speedy 19 pages per minute monochrome and 10 pages per minute color, its mediocre text and image printouts may disappoint all but occasional home users. And despite its many thoughtful standalone fax options, small businesses would do better with the more versatile multifunction printer.
The Lexmark X4270 All-In-One won't win many design awards; it is a squat and lightweight machine that measures an average 20.4 inches wide, 11.7 inches deep, and 7.3 inches high and weighs a light 9.1 pounds. By extending the top-loading input and the flimsy-feeling front output trays, the printer doubles in depth and increases its height by 4 inches, taking up additional desk space. All the Lexmark X4270's controls are on a front panel, easy to reach and use. Simply load your documents, choose the mode (Fax, Copy, or Scan), dial a fax number if needed, and press the Start button. Unfortunately, the small LCD, where error messages and menu headings appear, can be hard to read because it's not backlit. Underneath the control panel sit two cartridges that supply ink for the multifunction's four-color printing, faxing, scanning, and copying capabilities. The Lexmark X4270 comes with 16MB of RAM and is not upgradable, a problem for small businesses.
All connecting cables live in the back of the Lexmark X4270. A USB cable (not included) connects the device to any PC running Windows 98, Me, 2000, or XP--sorry, no Macs allowed. A telephone cord (included) connects the Lexmark X4270 to a phone jack for faxing. Although the multifunction comes with an attached telephone handset, a convenient second telephone connector slot lets you plug in your own phone or answering machine, good for an office with a single telephone jack. If you use DSL, ISDN, or a PBX digital phone service, you'll also need extra equipment to fax, such as a DSL filter or an ISDN terminal adapter.
An enclosed setup sheet provides clear text and illustrations on setting up the Lexmark X4270 and installing its CD. After installation, a handy icon appears on your desktop for easy access to the multifunction's software. You can also use the Lexmark X4270 across a peer-to-peer network to print, copy, or fax but not to scan.
The Lexmark X4270 All-In-One is best at faxing, scanning, and copying. The fast and quiet faxing includes useful features such as manual answering for a shared fax/phone line, and on-hook dial to worm a fax through an automated answering system.
The sheet-fed scanner takes everything from 3x5-inch cardstock to glossy magazine pages and can scan to e-mail, Acrobat Reader, various Microsoft programs, and elsewhere. The copier's useful Quick Copy setting provides pale but fast copies. The Lexmark X4270's main input tray holds 100 sheets of paper, and the output tray holds 50 sheets, which is fairly small for office use. The top-loading sheet feeder holds up to 30 documents to fax, scan, or copy. Unfortunately, the Lexmark X4270 prints mediocre monochrome text and images (more on this on our ), and printed documents inconveniently land in the output tray in reverse order.
You can always change the printer's settings through your PC with the Lexmark X4270's easy-to-navigate All-In-One Center software. The Lexmark X4270 also bundles Lexmark's fax, printing, and photo-editing software and the Solution Center for troubleshooting and how-to information. To view and edit scanned text, Lexmark includes a version of Abbyy FineReader 5.0 Spring Plus OCR Software.
As with most inkjets, the cost of ink can rapidly exceed the Lexmark X4270's purchase price. Standard black ink cartridges (estimated to produce 600 pages) list for $30, while high-yield black cartridges (1,100 pages) cost $36.99. The Lexmark estimates work out to 3 to 5 cents per page, which is high for black ink. Standard tricolor cartridges (275 pages) list for $37.99, while high-yield cartridges (625 pages) cost $49.99. This comes to about 8 cents per page (using either the high-yield or the standard cartridge), which is about average for tricolor ink.
The Lexmark X4270 All-In-One performed very well in CNET Labs' monochrome text tests, but it was rather sluggish with color photos. The Lexmark X4270 printed monochrome text at 4.6 pages per minute (ppm), while the Canon MultiPass MP390 printed at 5.4ppm, and the Epson Stylus CX6400 at 4.8ppm. A color 8x10 photo took the Lexmark X4270 a poky 5.2 minutes per page (mpp). By comparison, the Canon MultiPass MP390 took only 3.2mpp to do the same job, and the Epson Stylus CX6400 did even better at 2.9mpp.
The Lexmark X4270's print quality didn't impress our jury. The monochrome text sample documents looked a little too dark with lumpy-edged letters that tended to bleed together, especially in small fonts. Color graphics prints were also mediocre, with great detail but poor color matching; the whole image looked dithered and dotty. Photo print results were similar. The images were biased toward red, making the photos look very different from the original. They were also dotty and washed out, resulting in a significant loss of fine detail.
Scanning and copying performance
As with monochrome printing, the Lexmark excelled in scanning speed tests. In CNET Labs' test, it delivered up to 9.2ppm for grayscale and 5.3ppm for color images. At 3.4ppm, its copying speed was also the best we've seen among inkjet multifunction printers.
The Lexmark's scanning quality is better than its printing quality. The color scans, although they had a little banding and inconsistent gradient, provided sharp text and good details. In the grayscale scans, the image showed good detail, although it suffered a little banding here and there. Overall, the Lexmark X4270 is not one of the best multifunction printers we've tested, but its overall speedy performance justifies some of its mediocre print quality.
Following CNET Labs' testing procedures, we tested the unit with its default factory settings, which you can change to better the output where improvement is needed.
Learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
|Copy speed||Color scan speed||Grayscale scan speed||Photo speed||Text speed|
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Graphics on inkjet paper||Text on inkjet paper|
Lexmark supports its X4270 All-In-One with an industry-standard one-year repair-or-exchange warranty. Toll-free telephone support is available under warranty Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT. Hold times ranged from 5 to 10 minutes, with a longer wait on calls placed later in the day. Once reached, the technicians were helpful but not yet up to speed on this new product at the time of this review. Lexmark also offers technical support via e-mail, and online documents will be available in the Customer Support section of its Web site.
The excellent printed user guide (bundled with the multifunction printer) explains and illustrates the X4270's functions clearly. Help is also available through the Solution Center software.