At just $140, the Lexmark P4350 could be forgiven for not sharing the quality or speed of the more expensive models. And despite the low price, there’s a card reader and a 1.6in colour screen on the front – a feature none of the other budget devices can boast.
While it obviously isn’t as useful as the larger 2.5in screens, it’s a vast improvement on dot-matrix displays and their awkward scrolling menus. All the required standalone options are present and are easy to navigate thanks to the four-way directional pad. But the first problem came to light as we printed 10 copies of our five percent mono document: the output tray has no incline or barrier to prevent every sheet from being fired off the end.
The document itself was reasonably good quality with minor spidering, although changing to Draft quality meant characters were broken up and poorly aligned. Our monochrome test picture printed with a strong yellow cast, although the detail wasn’t lacking. The five 6 x 4in photos were grainy and also yellow-tinged, with slight vertical striping evident in places. The same occurred in our photomontage, and colour transitions were harsh, making skin tones look posterised.
The P4350 can use speed as an excuse to a certain extent. With a black cartridge fitted, it managed a decent 8.5ppm for text at Normal quality, but this only rises to 9.7ppm in Draft mode. With a photo cartridge fitted, we saw 1.4ppm and it was below the average speed for every photo test, making it one of the slowest.
The pace doesn’t quicken when scanning either. The P4350 was slower than average in all tests. A time of over four-and-a-half minutes for our 6 x 4in image at 1200ppi was more than a minute longer than any other device. In terms of quality, we again saw good performance with text, but poor results with images.
It follows that this also applies to the copier function: text is slow but looks like the original, while images are poor enough not to be worth the time or cost involved. Our continuous rundown test resulted in $1.68 per photo, and our intermittent tests gave a similar cost of $1.77 per photo: efficient, but expensive.
The Lexmark P4350 itself is affordable, and if used purely for text documents it’s acceptable. However, the superior Canon Pixma MP170 costs $38 less and is more economical to run, so we can see little reason to recommend the P4350.
This Review appeared in the July, 2006 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing