1st Nov 2006 | 00:00
Cheap to buy, but with an inky sting in the tail
Spare a thought for owners of high-end photo inkjet printers such as the Canon i9950, which uses eight different individual ink tanks. What these people save in ink costs they usually spend in petrol, always popping out to buy one cartridge or another.
By contrast, the Lexmark X2470 uses just one single ink cartridge, keeping supplies as simple as they could possibly be, but, unfortunately, there's a major downside to this feature.
The so-called 'No 1' ink cartridge contains just cyan, magenta and yellow inks, which provide a less than average colour space for full colour or photo printing. Performance for black text is even worse, as the 'process black' has to be created by using all three ink colours.
This makes mono output very slow, at around 5ppm in normal quality mode, and also means that black text looks very grey and grainy compared with the solid output of most inkjet printers and all-in-ones. There's also a massive increase in running costs, as mono pages cost just as much as colour ones at around 8p per page, which is about four times as expensive as many inkjet printers.
While the mono quality of the Lexmark X2470 is downright poor, colour prints aren't exactly brilliant either. In our tests, dark colours in DTP output lacked a little depth and, for photo printing, contrast was particularly lacking.
Rising above the print quality, the Lexmark has a flatbed CIS scanner built into its lid, which is pretty fast and requires no warm-up time, because like most inkjet all-in-ones, it's based on an LED light source rather than conventional CCF (Cold Cathode Fluorescent) lamps.
The latter needs to reach its optimal temperature to achieve correct colour balance, while LED-based scanners are ready to go at the flick of a switch. As such, the X2470 works pretty well as a very basic colour A4 photocopier, with on-board, one-touch copy facilities even when your PC is switched off.
The simplicity extends to the design of the printer itself, with a very boxy shape and somewhat flimsy feel to all the constituent parts. The build quality certainly feels nowhere near a match for the slightly more expensive Canon, Epson and HP all-in-ones. Combine this with the Lexmark's under-achievement in speed, quality and running costs, and it looks a poor buy in every department. Matthew Richards