- Review Price: £382.00
Lexmark makes a full range of business laser printers from simple, one-per-desk models through to full departmental devices, with all the collators and stackers you could reasonably want. The T430 sits around halfway between these two types and is a typical small workgroup printer with an output speed of an impressive 30 pages per minute.
Although quite squat, the T430 has a relatively large footprint for an A4 printer. There’s a single, 350 sheet paper tray which slides out from the bottom front of the printer and a 100 sheet, multi-purpose tray which folds down from the front. You can add extra 250 or 500 sheet trays if you need more input capacity. There are also versions of the T430 which provide built-in duplex printing and network facilities.
A neat silver panel in the front middle of the printer contains all the controls and a two line LCD display. The LCD has a backlight – hooray – so can be read whatever the overhead lighting conditions. The menuing system is well thought out, with a single rocker for selection of items, and confirmation and escape buttons. Green ‘Go’ and red ‘Stop’ buttons provide instant job control and shouldn’t prove difficult for anybody to learn to use.
The front of the top cover lifts to provide access to the integrated drum and toner unit, which slides easily down into the printer and is the only consumable it needs. At the back are connections for USB 2.0 and parallel cables, as well as a standard mains lead. There’s also a face-up output tray here, which folds down from the back of the printer.
The Windows printer driver offers nearly all the features you would expect of a modern workgroup laser, including watermark and overlay prints and multiple pages per sheet, up to a maximum of 16.
One aspect of the printer driver which is potentially confusing is its duplexing – double-sided printing. The standard T430 doesn’t actually include duplexing, though the demo page claims ‘Duplex Standard’ and the duplexing option in the print driver is not greyed out. When we tried it, the first side of the first page was printed as normal and the paper disappeared back into the printer, in typical duplexing style. The printer then jammed and we had to recover the single-sided page, bizarrely, from the paper feed tray. If the duplex function isn’t available on the standard machine, Lexmark should ensure that the option should be disabled in the driver, to avoid this paper jam.
Lexmark has always been able to produce good laser print and the output from this machine lives up to that standard. Text print is crisp and clean-cut, with very little toner spread and even small font sizes reproduce accurately at the printer’s default 600dpi resolution.
Business graphics tints are fair, though there is a limited blotchiness in darker fills. Photographic reproduction also suffers from these small patches and areas of graduated tint showed some light banding. Printing photographs is not the main task of most laser printers, though.
The T430 is a fast printer, not just in terms of its page-on-page speed, but also in getting the first page out. With only a few seconds forethought, the pages of a multi-page job fairly shoot onto the printer’s top cover indicating a well optimised Windows driver.
One of Lexmark’s main claims for the T430 is that it has a native PDF processor and can handle Adobe’s personal document format directly, bypassing its software driver. To test this out, we printed a PDF version of our five-page text document as well as the standard Word version we use in benchmarking. The Word version took 20 seconds to complete, in itself a commendable result, but the PDF version completed in just 17 seconds, some 18 per cent faster.
This is still under 18ppm overall, of course, far short of the claimed 30ppm, showing just how optimistic printer makers continue to be in rating the speeds of their machines. At least Lexmark claims ‘up to 30ppm’ for the T430.
While the purchase price of this type of laser printer is only a small part of the overall cost of ownership, at just under £400 from the web, it’s similar to its main competitors. In the laser printer market, asking price is proportional to print speed and 30ppm machines from HP and Epson sit in the same price bracket.
The T430 uses a single, all-in-one drum and toner cartridge. It comes in two varieties, a standard-yield product offering 6,000 pages at five per cent cover, and a high-yield version producing 12,000 pages, which costs around £165. That gives the lowest cost per page as 1.83p, which is good, though not the best on the block.
Although a fast printer with a good control panel and feature set, the T430 isn’t as quick as is claimed and its driver, though well optimised for speed, could do with work in order to avoid causing paper jams.
Score in detail
Print Speed 8
Print Quality 8