Lexmark X4550 Wireless All-In-One Printer review

The X4550's big USP is the wireless connectivity, but what about its ability to offer decent prints? We get printing to find out how the X4550 performs.

Before we look at the features offered by this printer, just consider why a Wi-Fi option might suit you. Homes and offices are increasingly wirelessly connected, so it makes sense to run all your hardware from that network.

With a printer, this means that unlike with wired options, and cable length restrictions, not only do you not need to have the hulking great thing sat right on your desk, but it can be used by more than one computer, or even laptops, without complicated connections and cabling.

The wireless connectivity in the X4550 comes via built-in 802.11g which is also compatible with 802.11b. This should cover most average consumer connections, although it is worth noting that the printer does also offer a USB hook up too.

Getting the printer connected to a wireless network is easy, thanks to Lexmark's idiot-proof easy-guided set up installation software, and the printer shows through its display, and handy flashing lights, if you have managed to get it talking to your Wi-Fi successfully.

Once set up, there's nothing different you need to do because the printer is wireless, it's still a matter, on a PC at least, once you've got it all connected, of selecting the printer in the same way you would a wired device, and sending print jobs to it in the same way.

Design-wise the X4550 will not offend with its white and brushed metal looks. The style is classic Lexmark with the top housing the scanner, an angled control panel with easy to understand buttons and a an LCD display, memory card slots (SD, MMC and CompactFlash) to the front right and paper trays to top and bottom.

The claim from Lexmark is that the X4550 is capable of producing up to 26 black pages per minute and 18 colour pages per minute. We can only assume this is via USB, rather than Wi-Fi connection, and on optimal settings, as it was frankly a bold claim considering the printer's actual performance. The X4550 is not fast, with colour printing obviously slower than monotone.

Photos can be printed up to a respectable 4800 x 1200dpi resolution which is more than fine for the kind of home snapshot printing that you'd expect from an all-in-one.

Photo printing is made easier with the addition of PictBridge, for cameras with that functionality, plus the inclusion of memory card slots that cover all the main options.

Bundled with the printer is Lexmark's Imaging Studio software that offers what you would expect - options to scan, crop rotate, resize, get rid of red-eye, etc.

The copying function can be done PC-free, using the device as a standalone copier, which is handy. The option to select up to 99 copies should suit even the most demanding home office users and the reduction/magnification option, from 25% to 400% is a nice touch on a cheaper machine.

The scanner element is a flatbed with a design that can handle (reasonably) large items such as books, the stats for this side of things are 48-bit colour scanner depth and 16-bit for grayscale. Results were fine, rather than amazing, for both text and images, which is really no more than what you'd expect from a multi-function device.

Verdict

We haven't thoroughly researched Lexmark's claim that it's the most affordable Wi-Fi-enabled all-in-one printer on the market today, but with online offers showing the price as low as £64, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Overall, this printer's main selling point is the wireless functionality with its printing, scanning and copying skills being capable rather than amazing.

If you are going to use that aspect to its full advantage, and really benefit from the Wi-Fi features then it's a product we recommend.

If you're looking for a high perfomance all-in-one that excels at everything it does, then you might want to look elsewhere.