So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
An average family multifunction
- Wi-Fi connectivity, adequate print quality
- Slow printing speeds, overly light scans
For the average family, the X4650 should suffice. Wi-Fi connectivity is an advantage for shared printing and print quality is adequate, but poor printing speeds will deter many people.
Price$ 169.00 (AUD)
The X4650 is Lexmark's mid-range multifunction. It's a basic unit built and priced for home printing. The unit's Wi-Fi connectivity is it's only real distinguishing point; otherwise, it doesn't offer anything fantastic as either a printer or scanner.
Connectivity is by way of either USB 2.0 or Wi-Fi. Wireless connections can either be a direct ad-hoc connection to computer or to an established network. This function is common in Lexmark's range, but it is a good feature to find in a multifunction at this price point.
The X4650's card reader supports SD, xD, MMC, Memory Stick, CompactFlash and MicroDrive, as well as a PictBridge port for direct printing. As the multifunction only has a monochrome LCD, it relies on proof sheets or preset photo numbers for direct photo printing from memory cards. Unfortunately, there's no way of simply viewing photo file names; however, the other options are sufficient for basic photo printing. The PictBridge port also supports standard USB flash drives, allowing users to save photos on a memory card directly to a USB flash drive.
Printing speed is roughly on par with the multifunction's Professional series counterpart, the X4875. Standard text documents print at an average of 14.3 pages per minute at draft quality; this slows to 6.8ppm at normal quality. This isn't too bad. However, colour printing speeds were less than impressive: 9.23ppm at normal quality and a paltry 2ppm using normal quality settings. Standard 4x6in photos will print in roughly 50sec; A4 photos print in 2min 30sec, a marked improvement over the X4875. Given this multifunction is targeted at families and students, document printing speeds are adequate, although colour printing is horribly slow.
Print quality is adequate, but not outstanding. Text documents are clean and tidy, but don't possess the laser-like quality of some competing units. Text can become slightly ragged when combined with graphical elements and text highlights, but background colours are largely consistent. We were surprised with the quality of photo printing. Although colours are often harsh and over-exaggerated, vertical banding is largely invisible — a feat uncommon in printers at this price point. Blacks are adequately defined in darker photos, but reds and yellows are highly saturated.
Scanned images are, for the most part, overly light. This doesn't affect text, but flesh tones in photos are under-saturated, leading to a loss of detail in lighter pictures. At 600dpi, scans are accurate, but the overexposure of scanned images can easily result in lost quality.
The X4650 will cost 15.4c per page when conducting average printing. This is reasonable but not the cheapest we've seen.
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