Because they can also be used for scanning, copying and faxing, multi-function or all-in-one printers are understandably popular with both home and small business users. But they're not all created equal, the Lexmark X7675 turning out to be a lot more capable than many, especially when it comes to network sharing.
No prizes for guessing that the X7675 is based on Lexmark's popular inkjet technology, in this case housed in a squat yet smart plastic casing with a flatbed scanner, complete with 25-sheet feeder, on top. Blank paper is fed in at the back (up to 100 sheets at a time) and printed pages ejected out at the front.
Also at the front is a large angled control panel with a colour display and, alongside, a set of slots, enabling you to browse and print direct from memory cards without using a PC. A USB port is also included here, but can only be used with PictBridge enabled devices, not ordinary USB memory sticks.
Round at the back you'll find the expected USB 2.0 interface for direct PC attachment, plus a couple of jacks for the fax modem and a local handset. Alongside, however, there's also a Gigabit Ethernet port for LAN attachment and a stubby aerial indicating the presence of a built-in WiFi print server. This can be used for both ad-hoc wireless printing and to connect to an existing WiFi network, although to configure wireless security you do have to connect with a cable first.
Just two ink cartridges are required; one black, the other colour. Lift up the scanner and these simply pop into place, the X7675 shipping with what Lexmark calls 'high yield' cartridges to get you started. In practice that equates to printing around 500 black-only pages while the colour cartridge will print around 350. Replacements cost about £28 - £30 (+ VAT) and there seems little point in buying the standard cartridges which actually work out more costly to use.
According to Lexmark, maximum print speed is 32ppm for black and 27ppm colour. But to achieve this we had to opt for draft quality, which is fine for own use and file copies but not documents you want to post out or share with others. For that you'll probably use the default standard quality giving around 12-15ppm in our tests, whereas when we selected the best possible quality each page took about a minute, with photographs equally slow to appear.
In terms of quality, you can tell it's an inkjet rather than a laser but its more than adequate for most business purposes and, if you need to produce photographs, special extra vivid colour cartridges are available. You also get duplex (double sided) printing as standard, with a programmable delay to let pages dry before continuing with the second side.
As a copier we found the X7675 simple to use, the built-in display and clearly labelled buttons making it easy to operate without instruction. Full colour copies took about 45 seconds to complete. Moreover, you can produce up to 99 copies at a time and reduce and enlarge (25 - 400 percent) along the way, just like a 'proper' copier.
Walk-up faxing is similarly straightforward, but to scan documents you need to use the Windows software supplied. This has to be installed separately on each PC: it not only lets you save scans to hard disk, but also scan to email and convert captured documents to editable text using OCR. You can also send faxes remotely.
All in all there's a lot to like about the X7675, which packs a lot of usable functionality into a compact and remarkably affordable package. Added to which it's a robust, business-quality machine, complete with a five-year warranty.