Lexmark T640n review
An efficient, cheap-to-run and quiet networked laser printer that's ideal for medium-sized workgroups.
As far as workgroup printers go, you can't do better than our A-Listed HP 4350dtn, with its print speed of up to 68ppm, a built-in duplexer and heavy-duty build quality. However, the £1,200 price tag is difficult to swallow for smaller offices and workgroups. Enter the T640n, which offers slightly slower performance and fewer paper-handling features, but for nearly £700 less.
There's no duplexer as standard and the default paper tray handles 250 sheets rather than the HP's 1,100. There's a slightly flimsy feel to the multipurpose tray for envelopes too, but with a bit of care it should stand up to most environments.
We were impressed with the speed of the T640n. Our 5 per cent coverage mono document printed in one minute, 27 seconds, pleasingly near to Lexmark's claim of 35ppm. A complicated 12-page Excel document printed at a rate of 33ppm, and the T640n's 64MB of RAM and 400MHz processor helped the unit through our 24-page DTP test at 36ppm. Our tricky four-page PDF slowed performance down to 24ppm, but it's still respectable for a machine that's intended to serve around a dozen users.
Text quality was predictably good, but we were even more impressed with the dithering control. Darker greys were printed as solid blocks, and while lighter patches occasionally suffered from obvious dithering, it didn't distract from darker text printed on top. Even images, normally a serious stumbling block for mono lasers, printed well. A good range of greyscales was helped by a banding-free print engine. Our only complaint is the amount of toner on the page, giving a noticeable texture to some of our darker images.
The T640n does have a few tricks up its sleeve. The USB port on the front is compatible with flash drives, and can read and print most PDF, JPEG or TIFF files it finds on them. There's no preview screen, but it's a handy feature.
The network features on the T640n aren't the most powerful we've seen, but for smaller roll-outs it will do the job. You can install the printer software on remote systems, which saves distributing discs or having to make a tour of all the systems in a workgroup. We had the T640n connected to the network and printing in less than five minutes.
Admittedly, the T640n won't win any beauty pageants, but in use it isn't obtrusively loud, and doesn't produce a noticeable amount of ozone, making it a good choice for desktop use. The toner and image drum are in the same unit, making replacing the two most-frequently changed consumables straightforward. A 21,000-page toner costs a hefty £206, but works out at just 0.98p per page (a smaller, 6,000-page toner costs £82, and works out at 1.37p per page).
The T640n is a good printer at a good price, and we're happy to recommend it for small and medium-sized workgroups. However, larger groups should be looking at the likes of the HP 4350dtn, which is much faster and delivers significantly better paper handling.