The Lexmark X4550 is a high-end version of the X3550, which we reviewed recently. The two printers offer the same design and feature set, with the exception that the X4550 adds wireless networking for an additional $50 (though it lacks an Ethernet port for wired networking). The X4550 is also rated to perform more quickly than the X3550, so the focus this review will be on performance since the two printers are so similar otherwise. (For an overview and analysis of the X4550's design, feature set, and support package, please refer to the review of the X3550.) Overall, the Lexmark X4550 produces mediocre prints and is a bit slow at tasks other than text printing. Its big draw is the fact that not only is it a $130 network-ready machine, but it comes with wireless networking standard. If you're a casual home user who prioritizes network-readiness, the Lexmark X4550 is a bargain. But if your focus is on print quality, check out the Canon Pixma MP460.
When compared to its comparably priced competition, the Lexmark X4550 proved to be quick with text prints and grayscale scans. But it was positively sluggish at graphics prints and 4x6 photos, as well as pokey with color scans. It scored 7.66 pages per minute for black text, a full page faster than the Canon Pixma MP510. But it scored a slow 1.04ppm for color graphics. Even worse was its photo print speed: a mere 0.40ppm for a 4x6 photo. The HP Photosmart C5280 was the next slowest, but still nearly doubled the pace with a score of 0.76ppm. The X4550 came back with grayscale scans--5.74ppm--but faltered with color scans--4.77ppm. Comparing the X4550 to the X3550, the former beat the latter soundly at text prints but fell a bit behind with graphics prints and scans. It was soundly trounced, too, in 4x6 photo prints.
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||4x6 photo||Graphics||Text|
The X4550's text print quality left a lot to be desired on our tests. Black text tended toward dark gray rather than true black. Additionally, we saw a lot of jagged edges and wicking, even though we printed on Lexmark's premium paper. The color graphics print suffered from some of the same problems. Straight edges showed jaggedness instead of clean, sharp lines. The color had a faded look and the photo elements were a bit grainy. And color blocks showed very faint horizontal striations. The 4x6 photo print was also just OK. Details need to be sharpened, and we saw evidence of graininess and horizontal striations, though they weren't as evident as what we saw in the graphics prints. The photo color could also stand to be a bit brighter and warmer.
The grayscale scan showed obvious compression in both ends: we lost details in both the shadow and highlight areas of the image, though otherwise, details were sharp. The X4550 did its best work with the color scan: colors were true and details sharp. Overall, the X4550 will suffice for casual home users, but more demanding users should look at the Canon Pixma MP460--the same amount of money will get you better print quality across the board, though text prints will be bit slower, and it's not network-ready.
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Graphics||Text|