Lexmark C532dn review

£350
Price when reviewed

Small workgroups looking for quality colour printing are spoilt for choice at the moment, and Lexmark’s latest C532dn ups the ante by offering high print speeds, integral duplexing and low starting costs.

General running costs also come under Lexmark’s spotlight, as the printer is endowed with its new Coverage Estimator tool. This analyses the pixels on each page and estimates how much cyan, magenta, yellow and black toner was used to create it. The calculations are printed on an extra sheet at the end of each job, so you’ll need to factor in the extra paper costs this tool will generate against what it can save.

The best printing costs will be seen if you go for the 5,000-page high-yield colour cartridges and Lexmark’s discounted return program, which delivers a colour page for a reasonable 6.9p and a mono page for a not so reasonable 1.5p. Lexmark also offers 3,000-page standard colour cartridges, which increase costs to 7.9p per page, and there are no prizes for guessing which ones are supplied with the printer. Standard paper capacity can be increased with an extra 550-sheet lower tray, and the printer’s base memory of 128MB can be upgraded, although over £500 for an extra 512MB is extortionate.

Printer installation is nicely handled, as you pick your model from a list presented by Lexmark’s bundled utility, which will then locate it on the network and load the drivers automatically. The web management interface is well designed and provides plenty of status information about all consumables, plus the printer can send out email alerts if any problems are detected. Access to the printer’s panel can be PIN protected, but Lexmark’s documentation is a bit sloppy, as it refers to a number of features that aren’t available on the C532 models.

The print engine is rated at a true 1,200 x 1,200dpi, with the driver panel’s best option using an interpolated 4,800dpi mode. The quoted print speeds are deliverable, with a 22-page Word document printed in normal mode taking 1min 2secs. Our large 24-page DTP-style document didn’t cause any problems, either, delivered in 1min 8secs for a decent 21ppm in both normal and best modes.

Print quality wasn’t so clear, as although the printer churned out crisp, sharp text in all font sizes our mono photographs showed it was a little too handy with the magenta toner, which left a slight pink cast on lighter areas. We confirmed this with our colour-performance tests, where grey shades using different mixes of cyan, magenta and yellow also showed the same problem, which manifested itself mainly when using the best mode. That said, we did find overall quality for colour charts and photos to be generally impressive – not as good as the HP Laserjet CP4005n (see A List, p29), but the C532dn does cost substantially less.

For the price, Lexmark’s C532dn delivers a decent printing package with a duplex unit. General print quality – particularly for colour output – is barely above average, but its fast pace makes it well worth considering for small workgroups.

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