Lexmark C770dn review

Price when reviewed

Lexmark already has a fine reputation in the consumer and small business laser markets. The latest C77x family of colour lasers moves the focus onto the workgroup and medium-sized business looking for high-capacity colour printing.

Lexmark C770dn review

On review is the C770dn, which comes complete with a duplex unit for double-sided printing. Build quality is extremely good, but it’s a brute of a printer that tips the scales at nearly 50kg. The standard 500-sheet A4 input tray can be upgraded with another 500-sheet lower tray. But if you want more expansion options, go for the C772 variant, as this supports more paper trays along with a stapler, multibin mailboxes and a high-capacity feeder.

Lexmark aims to reduce colour printing costs with a number of useful features, including comprehensive access restrictions, so you can stop users printing out their party invitations and the like. The printer supports 802.1x port-based authentication and requires RADIUS server details, so you can allow only those who provide valid credentials to use the printer. Specific local menu options can be PIN protected, and you can require all users to enter a PIN to allow jobs that are stored on the optional hard disk to be printed. Maximum PIN usage can be enforced, and once a user reaches their limit any further jobs they submit will be deleted. If you want to be really mean, Lexmark offers a printer driver that will only use black toner to “print colour” in greyscales.

The C770dn claims a top speed of 24ppm for both mono and colour operations, and during testing it delivered the goods on both counts. A simple 24-page Word document printed at 600dpi was churned out in a minute, while a 23-page DTP-style document cleared the finishing post in 58 seconds. Don’t expect the same speeds when using the highest quality setting, as the same DTP document took 1min 36secs at 1,200dpi for a much slower 14ppm. Duplex operations impressed, as our 24-page document was whisked through the extra unit at the printer’s base in 58 seconds.

Print quality for photographic images is disappointing, however. Although photos show reasonable levels of detail, there’s no vibrancy. Comparing test pictures from the Oki C5600n shows Lexmark’s results to be pale imitations, with the printer unable to resolve detail in darker areas. There were no problems with text, though, as our range of font sizes were pin sharp, and mono photos showed no colour casts either.

The USB port at the front can be used to print directly from inserted storage devices. The contents are displayed on the printer’s LCD, where you select a file that will be printed immediately. To block this function, you’ll need to PIN protect the control panel. Printing costs depend on whether you use the standard or high-yield toner cartridge. The former lasts for 6,000 pages, so the overall cost for an A4 page with colour is an exceptionally low 5.2p. The latter lasts for 10,000 pages and reduces the cost to a respectable 4.4p per colour page.

The C770dn sports a lot of features, but colour print quality is uninspiring. However, it does deliver plenty of useful access controls, low printing costs and good print speeds.

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