The Lexmark E460dw is a monochrome laser printer geared toward midsize businesses that demand a high output device that can print documents as quickly as possible. It's a single function printer, so it can't fax, copy, or scan, but it does offer wireless printing via a built-in wireless print server. In our experience, we contend that $700 is far too much to ask for the E460dw--aside from its painfully drab exterior, the output quality for anything other than simple text is far from acceptable and it doesn't come close to printing at its advertised speed. We recommend you stay far away from this laser printer and instead take a look at the Samsung ML-2851ND that offers much cleaner print quality and half the size for half the price.
Design and features
From a design perspective, the E460DW is flat-out ugly. We didn't care for the Samsung ML-2851ND's design, but this Lexmark makes it look like the Mona Lisa--not just because it's 2 inches bigger at 10 inches high by 16 inches wide by 15 inches deep, but mostly because of the painfully cookie-cutter grey and white case. We respect Lexmark's desire to appease a wider variety of office colors by coloring it with a muted palette, but the E460DW looks so boring that you're likely to run right into it if you're not paying attention.
The shape of the device is the standard cube with the printer output tray on top of the box and a wide front panel with a spread of menu buttons and a 3-inch grayscale LCD that sits flush against the front face. The backlit display adds a convenient touch to the user experience, showing you operational messaging, status updates, and printer settings. You can also make direct changes to the printer settings with the four-way directional pad, which is more than we can say for the Samsung that leaves out the LCD screen entirely and cuts the price down to $330 as a result.
A tray pops in the middle of the printer that gives access to the removable toner cartridge, and the bottom-loading input drawer extends out to accept up to 250 sheets of 20-pound paper, a standard amount for any monochrome laser printer. The printer can accept different sizes of media, up to 8.5 inch by 14 inch legal paper. You can also buy an additional high-volume input tray that adds an extra 250 or 500 sheets of paper to the bottom of the printer.
Another benefit to the E460DW is that the back features a built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless print server and antenna to sniff out local Wi-Fi networks. There's an Ethernet port on the back as well for connecting to a wired network. You set up your preferred connection method during the initial connection, choosing between local, wired, and wireless. All three require you to connect the printer to a host computer at first with a USB 2.0 cord. We were able to establish a connection to our wireless network in the lab in less than 5 minutes using the instructions on the driver. The software automatically detects an IP address--all you have to do is specify a security protocol (WEP or WPA/WPA2) and enter in your password.
Once you get started, you can access paper size, function, toggling auto-duplexing (printing on both sides of a sheet of paper), and other general settings through the display, or you can alter the more intricate options through the driver menu, such as print resolution (up to 1,200dpi), security, network information, toner darkness, and more. The software automatically installs a small status monitor into the Windows taskbar, but it doesn't display job progress or notify the user when consumables are running low.
The Lexmark E460dw ships with a high-yield 9,000 page toner cartridge, and replacement high-yield cartridges cost $229. That comes out to about 2 cents per page, which is the industry average for a single-function monochrome laser printer. Also, according to Lexmark, the printer can print up to 80,000 pages per month, which should be more than enough to handle the output volume of most small to midsize businesses.
According to Lexmark, the E460dw can print a sheet of black text at 38 pages per minute, but we put the printer to the test and it came up much shorter than advertised. Our test printer could only spit out an average of 17.61 pages of text per minute. The Samsung ML-2851ND as well the older Lexmark E350d printed the same document at 20.67 and 24.33 pages per minute, respectively. The Lexmark E460dw couldn't keep up with the others in our presentation test either, but demonstrated inconsistency in sweeping the competition during the mixed graphics document benchmark.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation||Black Graphics||Black Text|
We were hoping that the print quality would, at least, redeem the poor output speeds, but we're left disappointed again. In all three test areas (graphics, presentation, and simple text), our prints came out extremely fuzzy with half-formed graphics and blurred lines. Horizontal lines are irritatingly visible throughout all of the graphics and photos, and none of the shading percentages are even close to acceptable for a business atmosphere. The only halfway decent printout is the page of black text. Lexmark manages to maintain a semblance of letter formation at first glance, but the overall print quality is nowhere near the level of other $700 printers. We're much more satisfied with the superbly darkened lines and enhanced graphic quality of the Samsung ML-2851ND.
Service and support
All of Lexmark's E Series printers are protected by Lexmark's one-year exchange warranty with telephone support assistance through the Lexmark Technical Support Center. It also offers free on-site technical support if an issue cannot be resolved over the phone. Lexmark will dispatch a representative to replace or fix the malfunctioning printer. Finally, the Lexmark Web site contains a comprehensive support center that provides drivers and downloads, warranty upgrades, as well as a generous helping of how-tos and frequently asked questions.
Find out more about how we test printers.