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Lexmark has enjoyed considerable success with its economically priced all-in-ones and has a wide range of machines with slightly different functions sets, to suit most home and home office customers. The X4550 sits towards the higher end of the range and boasts wireless as well as a USB connection.
The X4550 is styled in ice-white, brushed aluminium and light grey and follows Lexmark's usual, rounded-slab design. The top, white section holds an A4 flatbed scanner, which can be used for scanning and standalone copying. Just beneath this is a control panel with a well laid out set of easy-to-use controls. This includes a two-line, backlit LCD display, which is particularly well used by Lexmark to provide copious status and instruction messages.
At the right-hand end of the device are two memory card slots, which between them take most of the common card types, as well as a PictBridge socket for direct camera connection.
A pull-out grey tray just about holds pages as they feed out from the print mechanism. Paper feeds in from a near-vertical tray at the rear and it's here the single USB socket and wireless aerial are located, too. The mains cable connects in at the back, so there's no separate power block needed.
USB installation is very simple, as the supplied software installs and discovers the printer without problem. If you want to use it as a wireless device, and there's little point in paying for the feature if you don't, you need to run a separate wireless installation routine, which requires a USB connection until it’s completed. The process is transparent though, assuming you have a working wireless network and the orange wireless indicator on the X4550 switches to green when it detects your wireless gateway.
As well as the USB and wireless drivers, Lexmark provides its Solution Centre, which handles maintenance, and Imaging Studio, which majors on the common tasks you might want the X4550 to perform. These include downloading images, scanning pages and scanning documents into editable text through Abbyy FineReader OCR.
Lexmark claims 15ppm in black and 6ppm in colour, both in normal rather than draft mode. Our five page text document completed in 46 seconds when connected through USB and 49 seconds over Wi-Fi. This gives a real world print speed of 6.5ppm, less than half the claimed page rate.
However, our five-page colour text and graphics print took a lot longer, at 3:12, giving 1.6ppm, really very slow, even for a machine in this price bracket. Finally, the 15 x 10cm photo print took 2:09 running from a PC, 2:22 with a PictBridge connection to a camera and 2:46 from an SD card. This machine doesn't win any speed prizes.
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