The Lexmark P4350's front panel sports a simple interface with one button to switch between Scan, Copy, and Photo modes, and a cluster of buttons to navigate the menus and adjust scan quality and copy brightness. Quick keys rotate, resize, and even preview documents before you print. The bright, color LCD is full of useful information, such as a 3D display of ink levels. If you open the printer to change inks, the LCD even shows you how to align the new cartridge. You also get a generous bank of slots for printing straight from a PictBridge camera or from digital memory cards (CompactFlash Type I and II, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo with adapter, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, SmartMedia, Microdrive, and xD).
The P4350 ships with two ink cartridges: one with three colors for graphics and one photo cartridge that contains black, photo cyan, and photo magenta ink. If you plan on doing high-volume text printing, you should buy a black-ink cartridge ($25 for a high-yield version). We find it a hassle to have to swap out and align the ink tanks when you alternate between printing text and photos, but at least this Lexmark provides a storage well inside to hold the spare tank. To avoid ink swapping, check out a costlier multifunction with individual inks, such as the Canon Pixma MP760.The Lexmark P4350 makes printing photos a snap. Just plug your PictBridge camera or digital-media card into the printer's front port, and you can view, select, and print photos immediately. The LCD photo menu lets you rotate and crop pictures, adjust the brightness, and convert pictures to sepia tones. The P4350 lets you choose paper size through its own input controls and automatically fits and aligns multiple photos onto one page, obviating the need for you to perform these tasks via the printer software on your computer. For more sophisticated photo-editing functions, such as adjusting the color balance levels, despeckling, or adding fills and erasing parts of the photo, you can use your computer to open the photos with the included Lexmark Photo Editor program; this is no Adobe Photoshop, but it meets basic picture-tweaking needs.
Scanning and copying are easy to perform. You can lighten or darken your photocopies and squeeze multiple versions of an image onto one page. A corner of the scanner glass even glows blue to show you where to place the original. Once you switch to the scan function, the LCD lets you choose between scanning to e-mail, Lexmark Photo Editor, or Microsoft Word. The scan software incorporates Abbyy FineReader Sprint 6.0, which converts scans to digitally editable text.
Lexmark's print drivers are easy to use and are grouped into three tabs: Quality/Copies, Paper Setup, and Print Layout. If you're overwhelmed by these choices, you can let a task-based drop-down menu adjust the drivers according to the project, be it printing a photo or making a banner. We were happy to discover that the Lexmark P4350 senses the kind of paper you're using and adjusts the print quality accordingly.Speed
Fortunately, the Lexmark P4350 printed text faster than its more expensive sibling, the P6250. The P4350's average time of 6.71 pages per minute (ppm) was a bit faster than the more expensive Canon MP760's 6.45ppm but a tad slower than the Dell 962's 7.46ppm. The P4350 printed our 8x10-inch color test photo on Lexmark's Premium Photo Paper in a dawdling 5.43 minutes, comparable to the Dell 962's 5.37 minutes; neither of these low-cost machines could match the Canon MP760's zippy 1.76 minutes. The Lexmark P4350's scanning speeds were average at 3.9ppm for grayscale and 2.41ppm for color. The P4350 copied our black-and-white, mixed test and graphics copy test document at a rate of 3.43ppm, which ranks it among the faster inkjet copiers we've tested.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Copy speed||Color scan speed||Grayscale scan speed||Photo speed||Text speed|
You can get decent prints for home use with the Lexmark P4350, but not at its default driver settings. CNET Labs' text prints on Lexmark premium inkjet paper were dark and crisp at reading distance, though letters looked fuzzy up close, the result of poor bidirectional alignment and ink spray. Using the default settings, graphics looked terrible, with jagged curves, low resolution, grainy-looking solid areas, as well as gradients with both printhead and color banding. When we switched to the driver's Photo setting, the gradients improved, but text and curves remained coarse. Photo performance was better, with less visible ink droplets. Skin tones were smooth, presentable, and warm, but neither accurate nor saturated. If you're a stickler for output quality, you should check out the Epson CX6600 or the pricier Canon Pixma MP760.
The quality of the P4350's grayscale scans was merely fair, with stark contrast, blurry images, and white flecks and blotchy patches throughout the solid dark area regions. Color scan quality was even worse, with color in grayscale areas, horizontal banding, missing details, and garish green colors.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Graphics on inkjet paper||Text on inkjet paper|