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Lexmark T640 review: Lexmark T640

Lexmark T640

4 min read

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The serious Lexmark T640 measures 13.6 by 16.6 by 19.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 38 pounds, with convenient side handgrips for easy moving. The Lexmark T640 comes with a 250-sheet paper drawer and a 100-sheet, flip-open multipurpose tray. A 250-sheet output tray rests on top, with USB, parallel, and Ethernet ports clustered within a back panel. Atop the front, silvery control panel are an easy-to-read backlit LCD matched by menu navigation buttons, as well as a numeric keypad. A unique feature that most rival lasers lack is the T640's front USB port, which lets you pop in a flash drive and print PDF files directly from it.

7.5

Lexmark T640

The Good

Fast text and graphics printing; highly expandable; direct printing from USB flash drive; business-friendly software; low printing costs.

The Bad

Graphics print quality is merely fair; expansion options are costly.

The Bottom Line

We wish the print quality were better, but otherwise, this is a very good office laser with sky-high potential for expansion.
Lexmark T640
The ideal office laser printer should print well and quickly, install easily on a network, offer useful business features, and expand to fit a growing office. Luckily, the Lexmark T640 has all of these bases covered, save one; its print quality is adequate but falls below the excellence of this machine's other features. The T640 even includes unique extras, such as a plug-in USB port that lets you print PDFs from a flash drive. Offices that print sensitive data, such as financial, legal, or medical firms, can take advantage of password-protected printing and account tracking. This modest-looking printer hides its big potential for growth; for instance, you can add enough paper trays to hold 3,850 sheets. Both wired and wireless networking add-ons are possible, as is built-in double-sided printing. Despite its minor drawbacks, the $699 Lexmark T640 is one of the most feature-packed and easy-to-use laser printers we can recommend for a growing office.

The T640 configuration should be plenty for a small office, but Lexmark offers an overwhelming array of expansion options. You can add a duplexer to make double-sided prints, a 1,850-sheet output stacker, an envelope feeder, and several input drawers. The 64MB of RAM can expand up to 576MB, and you can also add a hard disk or internal wireless 802.11g networking.

In contrast to some printers, such as the HP LaserJet 2420, which suffer from software bloat, the Lexmark T640 offers an uncomplicated setup. We plugged in the Ethernet cable, and within seconds, the T640 spewed out a page with network settings and an IP address. Once we started the installation from the included CD, the software quickly located the printer on the network and installed drivers on our host computer--a three-minute process.

The Lexmark T640's drivers are simple and well-designed and follow the standard tab layout. The dialog box even displays icons of a piece of paper and a printer that morph to reflect changes made to the paper size, input tray, or number of copies. The more advanced driver settings include options to calibrate brightness and contrast and to enable grayscale correction.

Offices with privacy concerns, such as law firms or medical centers, will appreciate the ability to hold a print job until the sender walks up to the printer and types in a PIN. Just select Print And Hold on the Other Options tab to make a confidential job wait in the queue. And when it comes time to bill a client, Account Tracking lets you key in your account number and print out a report.

The Lexmark T640 prints quickly enough for a workgroup, thanks in part to its 400MHz processor. In CNET Labs' tests, the Lexmark T640 cranked out text at an average of 26.4 pages per minute (ppm) and graphics at 22.97ppm. That speed puts the T640 on a par with the zippy Xerox Phaser 4500B and Dell W5300n.

Print quality is the T640's only weak link. In our tests, the dark, not too bold text looked adequate for basic office printing, but fonts below five points appeared rough up close. And the quality of graphics prints was fair, with uneven blending, grainy photographic elements, and black replacing dark gray shades. We ran our tests at the default level of 600x600dpi. Informal tests at this printer's maximum native resolution of 1,200x1,200dpi made a barely noticeable improvement in graphics quality.

By Lexmark's estimates, printing costs should be low. The 21,000-page toner cartridge costs $380, or $50 less if you return a used cartridge to Lexmark first. This works out to 1.8 cents per page or a low 1.6 cents per page after the cartridge trade-in.

CNET Labs' speed test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Graphics  
Print speed  
Dell 5300n
24.71 
27.35 
Xerox Phaser 4500B
17.77 
26.82 
Lexmark T640
22.97 
26.4 
HP LaserJet 2420d
18.22 
21.6 
Brother HL-6050D
18.21 
17.46 

CNET Labs' quality test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Graphics  
Print speed  
Brother HL-6050D
Fair 
Good 
Dell 5300n
Good 
Good 
Xerox Phaser 4500B
Fair 
Good 
HP LaserJet 2420d
Fair 
Good 
Lexmark T640
Fair 
Good 

The Lexmark T640 comes with a standard one-year warranty on parts and labor. You can extend the warranty up to three years with options for onsite repair and onsite exchange. Toll-free tech support is available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Lexmark's Web site offers a product-specific support page with links to driver downloads, FAQs, how-tos, a searchable knowledge base, training, and consultations. Unfortunately, we expected the link to 24/7 online tech support to lead us to a chat feature or an e-mail form, but instead, it shunted us back to the T640 support page. Overall, Lexmark's support Web site has potential, but we had a hard time accessing relevant product information.
7.5

Lexmark T640

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 9Performance 7Support 6