Speed tests with the original installation, which turned out to be the PostScript emulation driver, showed up a rather odd print error. On any multipage documents there was a pause of 8 to 10 seconds between each page, rendering any kind of speed measurement pretty redundant.
A call to Lexmark technical support got them checking with their own machine and duplicating the problem. They sent us the latest PCL driver, which corrected the pausing, but there obviously needs to be a little work on the PostScript code.
When we got our printer running correctly, it produced some impressive speeds. Although we didn't see the rated 23ppm, our five-page document completed in just 20 seconds, giving 15ppm and this increased to 17.39ppm for the 20-page job. The five-page text and graphics document took 21 seconds, so only slightly slower, and our 15 x 10cm photo print, in the best 1200dpi print mode, took 19 seconds.
If you compare this with something like the Samsung SCX-4824FN, reviewed recently, all the Lexmark speeds were slightly faster, ranging from 1ppm to 5ppm. The instant-on fuser in the Lexmark machine makes printing seem quicker still, as it starts almost immediately.
The quality of prints from this printer depends very much on what you're printing. Text, at the 1200dpi-like normal resolution, is very sharp and black. This makes it particularly easy to read. Greyscale graphics are fair in the lighter shades, but tend to be too dark when they are below mid-tone.
Our photo picture reproduced moderately well, though there was some banding in the sky and virtually all shadow detail was lost to black. There are also problems when scanning greyscales on the machine to produce copies. They come through very dark, with striated images which are next to useless. If you try and copy anything with printed photographic content, you're likely to get poor results.
What appears to be a single consumable is in fact a two-part drum and toner unit. The toner is rated at 2,500 pages, while the drum itself should run for 10 toner cartridges, as it lasts 25,000 pages. The toner cartridge is available as a Return Programme part, at reduced price and including postage back to Lexmark's recycling centre. The company is rightly proud of the fact that up to 90% of its cartridges sold in the UK pass through its recycling programme.
The ISO cost per page works out at 3.68p and, comparing this with results from the Samsung SCX-4824FN, the Lexmark costs roughly 1.40p more per page to run.
This is a good, general-purpose multifunction printer, with a fair turn of speed, but with some shortcomings in its copy quality and a driver glitch which needs sorting. It also costs noticeably more than some of its rivals to run, unless we see a drop in the consumable price as it becomes more widely available.