- Review Price: £196.00
Lexmark makes a big range of mono and colour laser printers, from personal up to departmental level machines. A mono laser, the E260DN is suitable as a high-end personal laser, or for SOHO or small workgroup use. At just under £200, it could be a very cost-effective machine, for all manner of business documents.
It comes in a two-tone colour scheme of dark grey and off-white and sits quite squat and unobtrusive on the desk. Its front edge is angled down to become a simple control panel, which uses individual LEDs, rather than an LCD display and incorporates just two buttons, one for switching the printer on and off line and the other for stopping a print job. There are no facilities for walk-up print via a USB memory stick, which is a shame.
The main paper tray, at the bottom of the front panel, holds 250 sheets and there’s a single-sheet, multi-purpose feed behind a fold-down panel directly above that. A 550-sheet, secondary paper tray is available as an option, bringing the maximum paper capacity up to 801 sheets. As paper feeds to the top surface of the printer, a peculiar sprung, wire restraint stops it from flying off the front of the machine. It has to be said, pages showed very little sign of doing this and the wire seems unattractive and redundant.
At the back of the printer are sockets for USB, Ethernet and legacy parallel ports, so there should be little difficulty in connecting this machine as a direct replacement for an older printer.
Pull down the whole of the front panel and you have easy access to the combined photoconductor drum and toner cartridge. This two-piece consumable is all you have to fit and replace, with the drum lasting a healthy 30,000 pages and the toner a slightly measly 3,500.
Software comprises a network management tool and the driver itself, which provides both PCL 6 and Postscript Level 3 emulations. The printer dialogue offers watermarks, multiple pages per sheet, collation of output and control of duplex print in a simple and easy-to-learn layout.
Lexmark rates the E260DN at 33ppm, but we couldn’t get two thirds of this speed out of the machine in normal or draft print modes. Normal print is what normal people typically use, as draft print is usually not clear enough for important documents. With this machine, though, draft mode is simply 600dpi print, rather than 1200dpi. Since 600dpi is more than adequate for text, you might use draft mode more frequently than on other machines.
Unfortunately, we saw very little difference in speed terms between normal and draft modes on this printer. Our five-page text print took 19 seconds in normal mode and 17 seconds in draft. Increasing the page count to 20 pages produced a print run in normal mode of exactly 1 minute (20ppm), while the draft mode equivalent took 55s, just under 22ppm. It’s hard to see where Lexmark could derive a figure of 33ppm, unless printing a document with very little text.
Where the printer was much better was with duplex print. We normally expect to see a duplex document take nearly twice the time of the equivalent single-sided one. Here, though, the machine achieved a speed of 15ppm in normal mode, three quarters of the single-sided speed.
Print quality is above average, with very clean, sharp text and greyscale graphics which, for the most part, are well differentiated, tint from tint. There was a little graininess in some of the greys and in the sky of our test photographic print, which also showed over-dark shadows, with otherwise clear foreground detail fading to black.
There’s a single set of consumables for this machine, with the 3,500-page toner cartridge costing a fairly hefty £86, though this is partly compensated for by a well priced drum, at just £32. Working through the maths gives a page cost of 3.38p, including 0.7p for paper. This is high for a £200 mono laser, though we’ve reviewed one or two machines with higher page costs.
Any printer manufacturer can manipulate the overall value of their machines simply by raising or lowering the costs of its consumables. If you can find, particularly the toner, at a lower price than we could, you can bring the running costs down directly. As it stands, though, this is quite a pricey laser to run.
The E260DN is a versatile, general-purpose mono laser printer with good text print quality, reasonable graphics and fast print speed, especially when you use both sides of the paper. The availability of an extra print tray means there’s some scope for expansion, as your business grows, but print costs are high for a machine in this class. It’s easy to maintain, which means it’s suitable for use in a business which doesn’t have dedicated IT personnel.
Score in detail
Print Speed 9
Print Quality 8