- Review Price: £608.18
Coloured dark grey and off-white, it looks business-like and is reasonably compact, other than the output tray, which sits unusually at the back of the machine and adds to its depth. The 50-sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) is neat and when you lift the scanner cover an illuminated arrow shows you which corner to line up your original to; a nice touch.
The control panel is logically laid out with illuminated mode buttons for copy, scan and fax at the left-hand end, controls for content type and for copy parameters next and then the main operation controls, clustered around a 2-line by 16-character, backlit LCD display. Further right again are fax options, a number pad and finally, at the extreme right, a USB/PictBridge socket.
The main paper tray holds 250 sheets and has a single-sheet feed fitted right at desk level. This seems a bit meagre on a machine intended for workgroup use and although you can add an optional 550-sheet tray, which also incorporates a 100-sheet multipurpose feed, it would be good to have 500-sheet capacity from the off.
At the back are sockets for USB and Ethernet, but the X544dw also offers a wireless connection. To set this up, you need to temporarily connect the machine via USB, to transfer details of your wireless network and any security passcodes.
Unusually, the four toner cartridges clip in at the side of the machine, once you’ve released and raised up the scanner section from the right. Renewing these consumables is very straightforward and doing the same for the waste bottle and drums should only need to happen every 18,000 and 30,000 pages, respectively.
As is usual with Lexmark machines, particularly its office laser devices, there’s plenty of support for different platforms. As well as Windows and OS X, drivers are available for various iterations of Linux, UNIX and Citrix. Windows users also get a copy of Presto! PageManager.
Lexmark claims 23ppm for this machine and our five-page text document completed in 24s, giving a real-world speed of 12.5ppm, only just over half the rated speed. However, on the longer, 20-page test, the speed climbed to 19.4ppm, which is really not far off the rating.
Duplex print is also reasonably quick, with the same 20-page document printed on 10 pages in 1min 51secs, a speed of 10.8 sides per minute. Our five-page black text and colour graphics test took 26s, hardly any longer than the straight black document, so there’s little time penalty for printing in colour.
Colour print from the front panel USB socket took 35s for an image around twice the size of a 15 x 10cm photo. It was slightly strange that a true 15 x 10cm print from the PC took 1min 39secs, but the result was repeatable. A single-page colour copy took 16s and a five-page black text copy from the ADF took a speedy 30s.
An interesting feature of this machine is its full duplex copy support. It’s quite unusual to have duplex on a colour laser multifunction and to have one with a full duplex scanner as well as print engine increases its rarity. It works well and you can select to convert a single-sided original to a duplex copy, to take a duplex original and create a simplex copy or go 2-sided to 2-sided. Although the scanner has to make two passes when scanning duplex, the results are still quite speedy, with our 10-sided test document copying in 1min 32secs.
The print quality is very well geared to office use. With the default resolution of 1,200dpi, black text comes through very sharp and precise. Block colours, such as in business graphs and charts, are strong and vivid, with no signs of haloing around superimposed text. A colour copy was gratifyingly close to the original.
Colour photos are a bit too primary, but not enough to be distracting. In fact, for many uses this may well enhance the impact of some images.
Costing out all the consumables gives an ISO black page rate of 3.6p and an ISO colour page rate of 13p, including 0.7p for paper. The black cost is reasonable, though the colour one is on the high side. The X544dw can use extra-high yield toner cartridges, offering 6,000 pages black and 4,000 pages of each colour, which helps reduce maintenance costs.
This is a good, colour laser multifunction, well up to the rigours of a busy small office or workgroup. We still haven’t worked out why printer makers think colour printer owners will print fewer pages than mono printer customers and can therefore put smaller trays on their colour machines. Other than that and the slightly high colour page cost, this is a high-value, versatile printer.
Score in detail
Print Speed 9
Print Quality 8
|Networking||Wi-Fi, Fast Ethernet|
|Paper Size||A4, A5, Executive, Folio, B5 (JIS), Legal, Letter, Universal, Officio|
|Sheet Capacity||250 sheets|
|Rated Black Speed (Images per minute)||25 ppmipm|
|Rated Colour Speed (Images per minute)||25 ppmipm|
|Scan Resolution (Dots per inch)||600 dpi, 600 x 600dpi|