Quick presentation and ergonomics
It’s almost a X2550, but with higher print speeds, a monochrome LCD so you don’t have to go through your PC, and with slightly longer lasting standard cartridges. In short, the price difference is small and the price/quality ratio is frankly in favor of the X3550.
After this for quality and cost per page the two products are so similar that we were even able to use some of the same text.
Like HP, this manufacturer went with monoblock cartridges, which also have print heads. This simplifies the management of ink in advance, assuring consistent printing quality throughout the product’s life. The negative part is that you have to throw out ink when only one color is empty. Also, this isn’t very eco friendly. It will be up to you to take the initiative to recycle via the manufacturer or some stores that offer this service.
Quality of printing and scanning
Lexmark sells its printer equipped with two cartridges, one black and one color, which is the configuration most users will go with. Thus equipped, the printer is very good for office prints. Tones are particularly well respected (compared to the others), characters are as precise as HP’s (comparable to laser printer quality), and where colors meet, borders are clean. So document readability is excellent and Lexmark’s poor reputation should improved. This Lexmark is not the one from years past.
Similar improvement can be seen in their photos. We remember their dominance in red 3 or 4 years ago and this is no longer the case. Moreover, two years ago Lexmark told us that at that time they were inspired by Canon’s colors to come back to something more natural. Since then color tables have changed, and today they are closer to Epson or show more fidelity. Their priority seems to be to reproduce the original photo instead of rendering it more attractive as HP and Canon do (in excess). The other side of the coin is that while they satisfy those who are meticulous for their images, it can be disappointing for the majority of people who want pictures that are flattering to the eye. In this way, if the Lexmark photo is more real to life, some prefer Canon‘s more saturated reproduction.
In the color + black configuration, the prints have nice colors, but like Epson on its DX series we can see drops. The image is nice and it could go in an album, but compared to Canon or Epson RXs there is no mistaking it. It’s obvious that it comes from a printer, while others could come from photo labs. This isn’t final, because Lexmark offers the optional n°31 cartridge, which replaces the black one. The advantage is that drops disappear, and the disadvantage is that the cost per photo increases.
The weakness of this product is its scanner. There is a slight blue dominance in scanned images and it’s better not to go beyond 300 ppp or you will lose precision.
Hurrah, Lexmark! With its 6.1 ppm, this printer finishes second in office print speed, a hair behind HP’s « fastest multifunction printer in the world » the C6180. This shows the improvements of Lexmark. More precisely, we obtained rates of 6.3 ppm in black with our test document, which went as high as 16 ppm in draft mode. This is quite good for your day to day printing needs.
Cartridge 29 assures an autonomy of 150 pages, black (n°28) producing 170 pages. These two cartridges therefore aren’t too economical, because the final cost per page with a covering of 5% (ISO) is 22 cents. This is the double of that of the competition and for us this normally disqualifies this printer from the running.
Like with the X2550, it bounces back with the fact that 29 and 28 cartridges can be replaced by the 35 and 34, which are much longer lasting and more expensive-so much so that it doesn’t seem normal. The price of the two cartridges is around 55 euros or almost the same as that of the printer. For those who have the courage to do this, they will be rewarded with an autonomy of more than 500 pages, which lowers the cost to 11 cents. By cutting this cost per page in half, Lexmark is back in the race just above the Canon MP160, but below the HP C3180 and Epson DX5050.
This is another domain where Lexmark has considerably improved and at one time the press used to take pot shots at them for their exorbitant costs. This hasn’t been entirely remedied, but at least they have acknowledged the problem in this area and now offer a more attractive option. Now they only have to include the 34/35 cartridges with their printer instead of the 28/29, which will necessarily entice consumers to replace them with the same.
A serious defect?
It’s the cost per page with standard cartridges that is the biggest problem. For those who want to print text and photos, they may prefer the Canon MP160, which is more versatile from the start. If you really want to use the X3550 to the fullest, you will have to replace the 28 and 29 cartridges with the 34 and 35, then buy the optional photo one for 25 euros. This equals an additional 80 euros for a printer that costs 70 euros. Ouch!
Another slight defect that we noticed in tests was that Lexmark’s chariot movement is a bit abrupt. This means that the table jerks when printing. On the other hand it is a quiet printer unlike with Epson, for example.