Lexmark X3350 All-In-One
What does a C-note buy these days? A surprisingly good photo multifunction for families, students, or home-office users. The Lexmark X3350 All-In-One doesn't offer the polish of its pricier cousins, such as the , but it nimbly handles photo printing and editing, scanning, and copying. Though the X3350 is big and gawky on the outside, its solid, intuitive image-management software, standalone photocopying, and button-launched scanning shine through. This multifunction heads up a posse of nine Lexmark all-in-ones under $100, and it's the only one to let you print photos without a computer, thanks to its PictBridge digital camera port. Fast but draft-quality text printing, above-average ink costs, and occasional misfeeds dull the X3350's luster, but it's still a good machine for a small investment. However, if you have a non-PictBridge camera and prefer memory card slots for printing digital pictures, then the might better suit you for $30 extra. Though the Lexmark X3350 All-In-One weighs a lightweight 10 pounds, it takes up a lot of space: 17.4 by 12.6 by 6.7 inches (WDH), or more with the paper trays extended. This gray, pedestrian-looking machine lacks a color LCD to display photos, but you can preview digital pictures on a PictBridge camera once you plug it into the printer through a USB cable. The angled control panel of the X3350 includes eight easy-to-follow buttons and a one-line LED display that lacks backlighting. You can scroll through menu options for paper size and number of copies, make quick standalone black-and-white and color copies, and jump-start the scanning process. A responsive cancel button rounds out the control panel.
The X3350 suffers from a few design flaws: printouts sometimes slide off the flimsy front output tray, and it can be noisy while printing. Two inkjet cartridges--black and color--provide four-color (CMYK) printing. An optional photo cartridge provides crisper six-color prints, but you'll need to swap it manually with the black cartridge to use it, which is inconvenient. The paper input tray flips up from the back of the computer and holds 100 sheets of plain paper or 25 sheets of photo paper--average for a multifunction in this class. The Lexmark X3350 All-In-One is a good low-cost choice for text and PictBridge photo printing as well as scanning and photocopying. It serves well as an amateur photo printer (up to 4,800x1,200dpi), with bundled software for image management and editing. Lexmark's helpful Photo Editor provides tools for rotating, cropping, and drawing and for adjusting and sizing images. The well-designed Imaging Studio includes a one-touch printing button plus access to a wide variety of album page layouts.
The X3350 stumbles at some of its other tasks. Text printing is fast but not crisp, and printouts arrive in reverse order--a distracting quirk of many Lexmark printers. Still, you can print envelopes, banners, and posters. The control panel lets you resize, darken, and set the quality for up to 99 black-and-white or color photocopies. Scanning is a breeze with the X3350's removable lid and great one-touch scan button, which launches the appropriate software on your computer. Through the All-In-One Center software, you can scan to Microsoft Word, Lexmark Photo Editor, Adobe Acrobat, and other programs. You can tweak the scan and convert images to text with the bundled Abbyy FineReader 6.0 Sprint OCR software.
Ink purchases can quickly run up the Lexmark X3350's operating costs. Standard cartridges--$19.99 for black and $21.99 for color--run 10 to 12 cents a page by Lexmark's count, while the $24.99 photo tank runs 19 cents per 4x6-inch page. You can pair this machine with a computer running Microsoft Windows 98 on up or with Apple Mac OS X. Installation is quick and painless with the enclosed setup sheet and CD.
The Lexmark X3350 All-In-One is one of the speediest budget inkjet all-in-ones we've tested; it turned in an excellent time on CNET Labs' plain-paper text-speed test. At 7.43 pages per minute (ppm), only the Dell 962 was a whisker faster. The X3350 slowed down considerably with Lexmark's Premium Photo Paper, taking 4.69 minutes to print our 8x10-inch test photo. Also, small photo paper tended to misfeed. While the X3350 outpaced the sluggish Dell 962, the Canon Pixma MP760 took a mere 1.76 minutes to complete the test. The X3350's scanning speeds were a quick 5.31ppm for black-and-white pages and 3.98ppm for color. As a copier, the X3350 was surprisingly slow, producing just 1.79 copies per minute.
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CNET Labs' text prints on Lexmark Premium Inkjet Paper were dark and crisp at reading distance, but ink spray and bad printhead alignment made letters fuzzy around the edges when viewed up close. On 20-pound office paper, text was even blurrier and had jagged edges, so use inkjet paper unless you can live with draft text quality. Graphics at the default settings suffered from choppy curves and an overall grainy look but improved when we used the printer's photo settings. Our photo test prints were less grainy, and the warm skin tones will probably please those who like to print flattering pictures of friends and family. This is a decent budget printer, but for better output quality, you should consider the .
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