Lexmark X7170 review

Price when reviewed

On paper, the X7170 looks tempting: a colour-capable all-in-one with standalone print (4,800dpi), scan (1,200dpi), copy and fax facilities, an automatic document feeder and a comprehensive software suite.

Lexmark X7170 review

Things quickly sour, however. The quality of printed text is distinctly coarse. Though characters are rich black, they lack definition, and, worse, even on default settings there are regular alignment glitches that cause vertical lines to demonstrate a marked stepping. At least pages appeared reasonably quickly at 7.3ppm.

Things predictably worsened when we switched to Quick print mode. Although the X7170 managed to churn pages out at a nippy 12.5ppm, the result was what we’d expect from an ageing and ill-treated budget inkjet.

Ink is laid down overgenerously, causing normal office paper to become almost soggy, and prints can be easily smudged even a day or two after printing.

When it came to photos, though, we were pleased to see that, in some cases, this model quitted itself admirably. Printing our punishing A4 photo test on Lexmark’s Premium Glossy paper took a tardy five minutes, 47 seconds, but while the result was a little oversaturated, we were generally impressed. The print displayed good detail, smooth transitions and neutral greys.

Results were less polished on 6 x 4in paper. We switched out the black cartridge for a photo cartridge (almost doubling the time it took the previous test to print) and immediately had problems cleaning it. After two attempts to clear the frequent gaps, the driver rather unhelpfully suggested we just replace the cartridge. 6 x 4in paper is fed in via a sprung pincer-like gap, the same loading mechanism used for envelopes, but the looseness of this feed caused paper occasionally to be pulled in at an angle. Borderless photo prints took two minutes, 31 seconds to appear, but each of our test images demonstrated some nasty glitches as the X7170 struggled to control the paper as it exited the printer.

Used as a scanner, the X7170 was disappointing too: colours appeared muted and images lacked crispness. Lacklustre printing and scanning performance added up to distinctly average copying. It’s reasonably fast, with mono pages appearing in 25 seconds on default settings, and colour pages taking a little over twice as long. But results are barely acceptable, with skin tones in particular suffering badly. Upping the quality to Best increased the time of colour copies to an agonising two-and-a-half minutes, and while results were much better, colours still shifted. Draft copies were atrocious, with the banding apparent even on normal settings becoming even more pronounced.

The Lexmark Productivity Suite software is exhaustive, but so badly designed and implemented that even the simplest task is a chore. We also had difficulties installing the software. Copying using the automatic document feeder had an even more detrimental effect on colour fidelity, and at 6 minutes, 10 seconds for ten sheets, it’s not fast either.

So, while £160 is cheap for a standalone MFD with so many features, we can’t possibly recommend a product that produces results like these. Business users should look at the mono laser Canon LaserBase MF5650 (see issue 121, p75), and home users or those who need colour should sacrifice the document feeder and stick with the HP PSC 2510.

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