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There’s also a Print and Hold facility where you can initiate a print from a PC, but not complete it until you’re at the printer. There's a keypad on the control panel and a four-digit PIN is required to output your document. The logic here is that you may have sensitive documents to print on a shared printer, and need to be by the machine as they appear.
As usual, there's a good deal of hype in the 43ppm print speed quoted by Lexmark. Our five-page text document completed in 18 seconds and the five-sheet text and graphics page took 15 seconds, so a maximum speed of 20ppm. The 15 x 10cm photo print in best quality also took 15 seconds.
Just for fun, we printed a six-page document in draft mode, with each page containing just the text ‘A test print’ and timed the last five pages to emerge. This happened in six seconds, giving a print speed of 50ppm, so you can see how printer makers reach these inflated speeds. In real life, though, you have to wait for page processing, data transfer, rasterisation, printer warm-up and page feed.
Quality of the output from the T642 is generally good. Text is clear and sharp, with no splatter or jaggies and greyscales in business graphics come through with only a little blotchiness. We printed using the machine’s PostScript Level 3 emulation, as well as PCL6 and there was little difference in text or graphics quality.
There are two places, however, where the quality does drop. First, photos are reproduced with noticeable banding and areas of the sky are irregular, where they should be smooth. Secondly, pages we manually duplexed came through with creases on printing the second sides. Although the paper might have been warm from printing the first sides, this is what the printer would have to handle when using the optional duplexer and it shouldn't crease.
There are two different capacity drum and toner cartridges, a standard version, good for 6,000 ISO pages and a high-yield one, which should give 21,000 pages. We used the high-yield version in costing prints and came out with a figure of 1.47p per page. This is a very reasonable cost and the high-capacity of the integrated cartridge should mean low maintenance, as well.
Lexmark’s T642 is a good, workgroup workhorse, which has the potential to grow with you and still be the centre of your business printing, even when you're company has grown considerably from the day it was purchased. Print quality and running costs are better than average and facilities for using memory drives and secure printing are an added bonus.
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