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Color Laser Printers: Fast and Affordable!

Lexmark C522n

While the C522n is a success esthetically and ergonomically, it has many shortcomings. In particular, its performance is not up to the manufacturer's claims.

Ergonomics And Functions

Ergonomics is one of this printer's strong points. Its large LCD display makes for easy navigation in the menus, and it can graphically display information on the location of a paper jam or a consumable that needs replacing. Its housing is large but vertically oriented, so the footprint is reduced. At around 57 lb (26 kg), it's also fairly light (relatively speaking!)

Printing Speeds

Lexmark claims a speed of 19 ppm in monochrome, but our tests showed that actual performance was far below that level. The printing engine itself is capable of attaining such speeds, but the printer executes a color recalibration procedure that sometimes takes more than a minute, considerably increasing printing times. The best speed we clocked was 6.4 ppm, or barely faster than a multi-pass model. The driver's calculation time is also very long, which results in a time to first page that's well in excess of the other models tested in this article. It took over a minute to print our Photoshop document - three times as long as the Color LaserJet 3600.

Print Quality

Like the Magicolor 5430DL, the Lexmark C522n had trouble convincingly displaying details in the images. Small white dots on a red background didn't show up, and certain lines on our Excel graph were barely visible. On the other hand, with documents that were a mixture of text and graphics, it did fine.

Cost Per Page

Lexmark's policy regarding its cartridges can result in wide variations in cost per page. The manufacturer offers two types of cartridges: standard ones, and ones recycled from the Lexmark Return Program (LRP). These latter cartridges are 30% to 40% less expensive than the standard cartridges, and they're the ones we used to calculate the cost per page for this article. At 3 and 14 cents in black and color, respectively, that cost was relatively high, but with standard cartridges it would have been around 5 and 20 cents. Note that high-capacity cartridges aren't available for this printer, while they are for its big brother (the C524n), which uses exactly the same printing engine.

Conclusion

Despite its handsome looks and standard network port, the C522n has too many faults. Lexmark really needs to work on its warm-up procedure and its driver so that this printer's engine can fulfill its great promise.