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Our mixed text and graphics print took two minutes 29 seconds to complete and a 15 x 10cm photo print in best quality took 3:29 from a PC or around 4:30 from a PictBridge camera and a memory card. So, no Lamborghini Murciélago - but what about print quality?
Lexmark has certainly improved on the original output quality from its three-colour ink technology. Without a separate black ink, the trick is to mix the other three to get a recognisable black. This machine does a fair job as long as you print in normal mode – draft mode produces a sort of bluey grey. You also get this colour if you photocopy a printout from the machine on it.
Graphics output and colours are generally pretty good, though we noticed some slight white banding in blocks of colour. Photo prints are reasonable, though there is some visible dithering, even in high-quality print mode and on Lexmark's own glossy photo paper.
The No. 2 cartridge in the X3480 is rated at 165 black text pages, or 200 in colour. We saw slightly more than these figures under test, with 203 black and 217 colour.
Working out the costs is very straightforward; just divide the number of prints by the cost of the single cartridge. However, overall page costs depend heavily on the prices you can find for the cartridge and, in the case of photo prints, corresponding photo paper. We found a special deal at www.lexmarkonline.co.uk which gives you 50 sheets of A4 glossy photo paper for £6.94, including VAT – a very good deal.
This gives a cost per page for text on plain paper of 7.86p and for a photo print of 23.4p. The text cost is comparatively high, but the colour photo cost is only a little higher than from its major competitors.
As the price of Lexmark's budget All-in-One machines creeps up, with the addition of new features such as the card and camera readers on this X3480, they come into direct competition with other makes. At £100, the price PC World and Currys are charging for the X3480, there are models from Canon (Pixma MP500), Epson (Stylus Photo RX520) and HP (Photosmart C4180), which all give this device more than a run for its money.