Lexmark C543DN colour laser
Fast replacement for your inkjet printer?
Review The boundary between colour inkjet and colour laser printers continues to blur, as the colour quality of lasers improves and the speed and paper-handling of inkjets is ratcheted up too. There’s a price-band in the middle, around the £200-250 mark, where colour lasers, like Lexmark’s C543DN, can make a lot of sense.
Lexmark's C543DN: new colour engine on board
Lexmark may have a reputation as a stack-‘em-high, sell-'em-cheap inkjet manufacturer, but its laser printer heritage goes back to when it was IBM’s business printer division. It has a solid technological base, and this small workgroup printer includes a newly designed colour laser engine and some useful extras which could make for cost savings.
The grey and off-white case is unusually low of profile for a colour laser, and pages feed from a 250-sheet tray at the bottom to a raised output tray on the printer’s top surface. There’s a single-sheet feed built in right at the bottom, at desk level, which helps align special media. An optional second paper tray adds a 550-sheet unit and converts the single-sheet feed into a 100-sheet multi-purpose tray.
The control panel on top includes a 16-character, two-line back-lit display, but this uses a reduced dot matrix, so no letters have true descenders – ‘g’, ‘j’, ‘p’ and ‘y’ all sit above the line. This is a surprisingly cut-price choice in a machine costing £250. Controls are a simple set of six buttons: to move left and right through menus, an OK button for option selection and another for backing out. There’s a manual job-cancel button, marked Stop, too.
It’s a shame the front-panel USB socket, for walk-up and PictBridge printing, isn’t included on the C543DN as it is on the machine’s higher-priced sibling, the C544n. The only connections on this machine are USB 2.0 and Ethernet, and both direct and network links are easy to set up. The installation software guides you through the process and the physical unpacking will probably take longer than setting the thing up, as there are innumerable packing pieces hidden in different parts of the mechanism.
Network ready - and easy to set up
This isn’t helped by the designer’s decision to put the toner cartridges down the side of the printer, rather than at the front or on top, which is more conventional. To get at them, you lift a flap on the right-hand side of the printer and they clip in, more like inkjet cartridges than a toner pack.
Lexmark aren't a printer company
Clearly they're an ink company who sell printers as loss leaders
Funny to see all the whinging about inkjets...
...since by default, all inkjet printers are shite.
@Sam: I've seen nothing but problems with HP printers since the demise of the LJ4 (the proper big one) line, they jam, they break, the output sucks and the toner is priced like it's made from cocaine. My friend's experience with samsung printers hasn't been good either - stripped gears and worn out feed rollers at a dismal 40k pages? That's only 8 months for a printer designed for 5k pages a month! When you can find a workgroup('cube') style printer with 600k+ clicks on 120gsm *cardstock*, with no servicing beyond the toner/drum, then you have found a quality printer. I de-installed some lexmark lasers in just this situation, although one of em only had 520k clicks.
When I buy a printer, I do the smart thing, and buy a lightly used older model - my T520 may be a bit venerable, but at a mere 69k 'clicks', it's not even broken in. Best part is, I can buy new 20k page toner carts on ebay for $20 each - WITH shipping.
Duplex reduces paper costs by half
What about a 3 page job?
I will never again allow anything with the word "Lexmark" written on it in my house. My dad asked me to check whether one he had worked, so I stupidly connected it to my PC and installed the drivers. I uninstalled them afterwards.
Nine months later, my Samsung printer starts playing up. Had various rows with Samsung, messed about no end, and in the end, it turned out that the crappy Lexmark thing hadn't entirely uninstalled. I had to fanny about in the registry, actually delete a service dependancy and delete some stuff in Safe Mode. And I'd been unfairly blaming Samsung all along.
Has worked perfectly ever since.
Lexmark on my "do not buy again" list
I once made the mistake to buy a Lexmark C520N Color Laser printer. That thing literally eats the ink in the toner cartridges or the firmware is rigged to report near empty toner cartridges after about 20-50 pages. NEVER EVER will I buy Lexmark again. I almost printed 1000 pages on my HP LaserJet 3015 multi function printer before I had to replace the ink cartridge. At least as far as printer goes, HP does it for me.