Lexmark has now confirmed that the vaguely iPod-style printer design that they debuted with the X5470 is the new official Lexmark "style" for printers going forward. The plus side for consumers here is that the official style does actually look pretty good, as long as you can keep grubby fingerprints away from it -- just like an iPod, in fact. The downside for product reviewers is that it becomes almost impossible for us to say anything new or interesting about the newer models, as by and large they're visually identical to their forebears. Same white styling, same collection of media card readers and so on and so forth. The X3550 measures in at 280mm by 536mm by 398mm with a carrying weight of 5.6 kilograms if you need to know if it'll fit on (or collapse) your PC desk.
X3550's offers no integrated photo previewing screen -- as there is in the-- but it does share one important feature with that printer, namely wireless printing capability. But we'll get back to that shortly.
Lexmark provides starter cartridges (one colour, one black) with the X3550, along with a USB cable -- many printer vendors aren't quite so friendly in this respect -- and driver CDs for Windows and Mac platforms. One environmentally-friendly addition in the X3550's box is the inclusion of a prepaid envelope for sending back cartridges for recycling (as part of the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark initiative).
Initial set-up of the X3550 involves the usual mix of cartridge loading, default language selection and the removal of all those curious bits of tape -- in the X3550's case they're blue snippets. Whoever came up with the idea of sticking bits of printers down should probably have patented it -- they'd make a fortune.
The X3550 is an all-in-one scanner, copier and colour printer. Lexmark rates print speeds at up to 24ppm for B&W prints, and up to 17ppm for colour prints. An optional AU$41.99 photo cartridge is also available for photo printing. The 48-bit colour scanner offers a maximum resolution of 600x1200.
Lexmark's big recent push in consumer-level printing has been to introduce wireless functionality into its lines. The X3550 represents something of an each-way bet, however, as while it's wireless-capable, this comes about via an optional AU$79 adaptor. There's two big problems with the adaptor that we can see. Firstly, we're not too sure that many consumers will want to spend more than half the cost of the printer again just to add wireless. More pressingly, the X4550 (which is due to hit our shores in June) offers integrated wireless and will sell for AU$199 -- nine bucks cheaper than adding it to the X3550.