The Lexmark X4975 Professional is a 3-in-1 printer targeted towards a home office setting or a small business. This printer offers printing, scanning, and copying duties, with wireless network connectivity, duplex printing, and an automatic document feeder. In this review we cover all aspects of the Lexmark X4975 and find out if it deserves a spot in your office.
Lexmark X4975 Professional Specifications
• Print Technology: Thermal Inkjet
• Built-in Two-Sided Printing
• Color Technology: 4 Color Inkjet - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black
• Scan Technology: CIS with 48 bit depth
• Max Color Print Speed: 5ppm (27ppm draft)
• Max Black Print Speed: 13ppm (30ppm draft)
• Max Copy Speed: 25cpm Black, 21cpm Color
• Print Resolution: Black 1200x1200dpi, Color 4800x2400dpi
• Optical Scan Resolution: 600x1200dpi
• Supports Compact Flash/MicroDrive, xD Card, MMC/SD/SDHC, and Sony Memory Stick
• Connectivity: USB 2.0, 802.11b/g Wireless
• Warranty: up to 5 years (must register for the 4 additional years)
The Lexmark X4975 is designed to handle most of a small business’s needs, including printing, copying, and scanning. Printing and scanning can be handled over the wired USB connection, through a local wireless network, and even on the printer itself through onscreen menus. For a business, using the wireless network capabilities would allow the printer to be placed in a central location where it only needs a power connection, instead of shared off someone’s computer.
The design is fairly basic with a silver “wrapper” that surrounds the black plastic body. The printer blends in well in most office environments, but the black finish seems to show off lots of dust even after a week of use. With the top surface being prone to collecting the most dust, having this all silver would have probably hidden most of the dust accumulation. That being said, taking a damp cloth or paper towel to it occasionally will clean it up well.
The X4975 is designed to be very easy to use with clearly labeled buttons located in one central area surrounding the color display. From this command center you can setup the printer to copy, scan, and print.
Primary printer connections are very basic on the rear of the printer, with only USB and AC Power plugs. The wireless network antenna can also be seen, but that generally doesn’t need to be touched.
On the front, besides the display interface, are the memory card slots and PictBridge connection. The slots are clearly labeled, making it hard to plug into the wrong one.
The X4975 has a manual scanner located under the top shelf as well as an automatic document feeder located on top. The document feeder has a capacity of 25 sheets.
Paper is fed in through the back in an upright position. The printer can hold up to 150 sheets of standard 20lb bond paper at a time.
The installation process is painless with the Lexmark software prompting you through all the major steps. If you are setting it up for the first time you have the option of going through a set of prompts that tell you, step by step, how to unpack the printer, install the print cartridges, and align the print heads. If you are just adding a previously setup printer to your computer, you have the option of taking a shortcut to speed up the process.
When you insert the disc you are prompted on which software packages you want to install. I only installed the drivers, with no additional items checked on this screen.
Next you are given the choice of checking for new drivers. Since the product is fairly new, the driver disc still had the newest version. In the future, this may change and having the newest drivers is always a good thing.
At this step you are given a shortcut where one side takes you through the process of properly unpacking the printer, and the other takes you through the driver setup.
To work with the printer in our office setting, we opted for a wireless network configuration to share the printer between multiple users. Here you select that option, and you are then asked what the status of the wireless indicator is. If it is green, you are good to go. If it is orange, wireless is on but not connected. If it is off, wireless is off.
If you have the printer turned on, the software will automatically discover the printer. After this you name the printer and the setup is complete.
Ease of Use
Using the printer to print document or photos is very easy, and the Lexmark prompts take care of most of the guesswork. When you insert any type of paper into the printer, it will ask you for the size and type of paper. This helps it calculate what size to print, and also how much ink to use depending on the style of paper.
To print images using the built-in memory card reader and image selector, you start off by inserting a memory card. You can individually select images to print off on a wide range of paper sizes or print out a proof sheet where you can select which images you want to print after viewing them. The proof sheet gives you the option to tell the printer which images to print off, how many of each image, if you want to reduce red-eye on certain images, what paper size you are using, and if you want the printer to do any enhancements.
While the photo proofing can be handy on printers with a really small display, the photo selection through the Lexmark X4975 works best, and doesn’t waste ink.
To copy an image, you press the copy button on the front panel. You are then prompted with a set of options including how many copies, what quality, image adjustments and so on. Once you have it how you want, you press the start button to start the process.
To scan an image you have two options, scan to a network device or scan to a local memory card. If you are scanning photos to manipulate in Photoshop on your computer, this is where the network device option would come into play. If you want to scan something to a memory card, you can insert any supported flash device into the card reader, and during the scan it will output a JPEG image file to your card.
Printer Performance and Print Quality
To test the Lexmark X4975, I ran it through a series of tests printing out images in 8.5x11” and 4x6” formats, copied images, scanned images, and printed off regular documents.
Document printing speed was very fast, coming in at 17 seconds from the time you press the “OK” button on the print menu inside Microsoft Word to when the paper ejected from the printer. It had about 6 seconds of lag before the Lexmark display came up and said it was printing out to a network device. Text quality was pretty good with minimal bleeding on “Normal” print quality. The paper used was generic Office Max printing paper.
For our photo printing tests I used Lexmark PerfectFinish 4x6” photo paper and Kodak 8.5x11 Ultra Premium photo paper.
Printing a standard 4x6 image using the automatic quality setting took 1 minute and 9 seconds from clicking print inside Photoshop to the photo ejecting from the printer. Printing out the same image in the 8.5x11 size took 3 minutes and 33 seconds with the same settings. Obviously, photo printing speed is much slower than the color document printing speed. Using the print manager on the printer took slightly less time, but only because it didn’t have as much initial lag as the wireless network.
Print quality in best conditions was fairly good, but not perfect. Inspecting the images close up revealed thin line patterns. At a foot or more away the images looked great, which generally speaking, is the way most of us view our photos.
Image quality using the X4975’s built-in photo printer was very hit or miss with JPEG files. Large image files, such as those from newer high megapixel cameras or a dSLR, produced very poor results. The internal processor could not handle the large files, and would print out a heavily pixilated and blurry image. If you resized and recompressed the image first using Photoshop and put it back on the memory card, the problem vanished. One example of this is shown below.
Snapshots of an 8.5x11 showing a large image printed using the onboard image processor and one printed directly off a computer. Same image file, much different result.
Since many digital cameras are moving towards larger and larger image sizes, this problem will definitely show up unless you plan on using a very old camera with this printer. The problem is bad enough that it became more hassle to use the internal card reader rather than loading up Photoshop or Gimp on my laptop and printing from that.
One interesting aspect of the high resolution image flaw is it is only limited to JPEG files. If you print out the same resolution image, but in a TIFF format, the printer does just fine on its own. The problem relates more to a software bug that could hopefully be fixed with updated software.
Copying photos using the “Photo Reprint” feature is really not recommended if you still have access to the original file. The resulting image was less than spectacular, with skewed colors and a good deal of missing detail. Below is an example of the original image and the reproduction.
The Lexmark X4975 Professional offered a wide range of features that were helpful in an office environment. With wireless printing and scanning, it is no problem for many users around the office to print documents or scan items and have it transmitted to their computer. Having an automatic document feeder helped copy a stack of papers quickly and the built-in duplex feature helped save paper.
Some features - such as photo printing - came up short with a buggy photo processor that distorted high resolution images printed locally. This basically ruled out using the onboard card reader for anything. Printing from a computer resolved the issue, and hopefully a software or firmware fix resolves it. Overall, the Lexmark X4975 wasn’t that bad under most conditions, but for the price there are many other competing printers that could give better results.
Pricing and Availability
The Lexmark X4975 Professional is available now on Lexmark's website for $179,99.
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