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Lexmark’s new E342n is a squat, black and silver mono laser printer. Even though it’s not much bigger than the personal lasers of a few years back it’s designed for a small business or a small workgroup in a larger office. Lexmark claims that it can print at up to 28ppm, with the first page out in as little as 7.5 seconds.
The E342’s angular lines and unusual colour scheme combine to produce a good looking printer, a little deeper – though rather wider – than an A4 page. This is a conventional design, with paper feeding from a 250 sheet tray, which slides out from the bottom of the front panel, to an output tray set into the top.
There’s a multi-purpose tray directly above the main paper tray, but this can only take a single sheet at a time and it has to be manually fed. An optional, 550 sheet tray can be fitted underneath the printer. At the rear is the mains socket and three separate connections for USB, parallel and Ethernet.
There's a two-line, 16-character LCD display set into the control panel and this has, usefully, been fitted with a backlight. The control panel itself is a series of clearly marked buttons, which navigate the printer's menu system and work to cancel and confirm print jobs.
A button at the top left of the printer releases the front panel, which swings forward to reveal the toner cartridge and the photoconductor drum. This is a two-part consumable and the toner can be released from the assembly, separately from removing the drum and toner. They each have different service lives and the drum lasts for a very reasonable 30,000 pages. Sliding in the cartridge is a little fiddly, but is helped by useful labelling, of the ‘line up the arrows’ sort.
Set up involves the usual routine: install the software from the CD and plug the printer into any USB 2.0 or parallel port. All very simple and effective. If you want to set the machine up as a network printer, things are nearly as straightforward and Lexmark’s MarkVision Professional utility means you can check the printer’s status easily, from any PC on your network. It can also be set up to inform anybody on the network when the paper or toner is low – assuming they’ve drawn the short straw.
Although not up to the speeds claimed by Lexmark, we did produce our five page text document in just 18 seconds, giving a print speed of nearly 17 pages per minute. Our mixed text and graphics page came out at 6ppm and the high resolution photograph came in at just under 3ppm. These are some way off the 28ppm on the spec sheet, but are still a fair result.