Lexmark E120N review

£79
Price when reviewed

When it comes to equipping a home office, small and inexpensive is usually the order of the day, and on these grounds alone the E120N is worthy of a closer look. For a start, it’s tiny – little larger than a high-end inkjet – and the price of just £79 places it firmly within most budgets.

Lexmark E120N review

But the E120N offers speed and features beyond what we expect for the money. We’ve yet to see an inkjet that can produce best-quality prints at a rate of 20ppm, which is both what Lexmark claims for the E120N and what we achieved in our tests. After ten seconds’ processing, the E120N printed our 50-page mono text document in two minutes, 45 seconds, exactly on speed. Even our 24-page, image-heavy Word document printed at the same rate, with the E120N finishing the job in just one minute, 22 seconds. Printing four copies of a five page, full-colour PDF took ten seconds to process, and impressively, was finished just one minute later, again tallying with Lexmark’s claim of 20ppm. The impressive page-per-minute count is largely due to the compact paper path and nippy 183MHz processor: the mediocre-sounding 16MB of RAM clearly had little impact over the course of our testing.

We were impressed by the quality of the documents too. Text quality was perfect and solid grey areas such as graphs and diagrams were free of distracting dithering. Naturally, the E120N isn’t going to be printing many photos, but the ones we did print displayed barely any banding. They were a little grainy, but the E120N is easily good enough for simple business graphics.

We were also pleased with the lack of curling that accompanied long print jobs. Typically, as a compact laser printer warms up, the pages deform as they’re rolled through the paper mechanism, but even the last page of our 50-page document was flat. It’s also fairly quiet – only a little louder than a standard inkjet. The sole drawback is that the cooling fan blows hot air – and a whiff of ozone – out of the right-hand side of the printer as you’re facing it, so you’ll need to position it carefully.

The network port is another welcome feature. The E120N has an internal web server to enable you to keep track on the status of the printer and its consumables and will be a plus for those with small networks. The consumables themselves are relatively cheap. Replacing the 2,000-page toner cartridge will cost £44, while the photoconductor (drum unit) kit costs a further £27, but this will last for 25,000 pages. All told, a page from the E120N will cost 2.3p excluding VAT; this is a little higher than rivals such as Dell’s 1100, but only by 0.3p.

All in all, the E120N is an excellent printer for a home office. It’s fast, offers first-rate mono quality and can be added to a network with the minimum of fuss, as well as being small and quiet. Unless you need to print eye-catching promotional material or photographs, the E120N is a superb buy.

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