Lexmark E332n Laser Printer

On May 2, 2005, in printer, Review, by Tim Robertson

Lexmark E332n Laser Printer – Review
Company: Lexmark

Price: $499 US

As I write this, the last Lexmark printer I reviewed was the C510 Color Laser Printer almost a year ago. I very much enjoyed that printer, as I generally have all the Lexmark printers that have found their way into the Michigan MyMac.com Review Labs. (Or my home office, if you will) The C510 was a large printer, and in contrast, the E332n is small, not much larger than a common multifunction printer. There is where the comparisons end.

The E332n is a monochrome (read, no color) network laser printer that takes up a small amount of desk space. It sports a USB 2.0, a parallel port, and 10/100Base T Ethernet ports. (Users of older computers with USB 1 will also be able to connect to the printer, although sending print jobs will be a little slower). With 32MB of internal memory and a 100MHz processor, this is a powerful compact laser printer.

I ran the printer via the USB port first connected via my Airport Extreme base station. This allowed me to share the printer via USB print sharing so that all my other Mac computers could print to it. (Including a AlBook in the kitchen, the main G5 workhorse, and the mostly file sharing G4). All printers found and printed to the E332n just fine with this setup.

Next, I connected the Lexmark to my home network via the Ethernet port on the printer. This allowed me to not only print to the unit via my Macs, but from my XP-running Dell as well. Again, all computers saw and were able to print to the E332n without a problem. While it’s easier to setup a network printer on a Macintosh, it’s no problem on a PC. A networked printer via Ethernet is an ideal setup for mixed computer households or small offices.

The Lexmark prints at up to 27 pages per minute (ppm) and in real world tests, I found this to be pretty accurate. I sent a 175-page PDF to print and found that the E332n completed the job in less than six minutes. Some pages had little text, while others had a lot of text and graphics.

The E332n likes to rest during long print jobs. I find this common on smaller printers, as well as some larger workgroup printers. The wait time between one continuous print run and the next was slightly longer than some other printers I’ve tested and used in the past, but nothing that I would give negative marks for.

While printing, the Lexmark can be a little loud, but not overtly so. The above mentioned C510, by comparison, was much louder while printing. Warm-up time was not too long, and from the printer receiving the print-job file to the first printed page is fairly quick.

Some printers of this type tend to give off a certain odor when printing larger jobs. It’s simply one of those occurrences one gets used to when using a laser printer. Xerox and HP machines especially tend to do this. I was pleasantly surprised to not notice any of the fresh toner smell while printing with the Lexmark E332n. This may be a small thing to some, and not something most reviewers ever mention, but for those who plan on putting a printer in their home office, the odor can be noticeable with some printers. Not so here.

Printing via the USB port is obviously faster than the Ethernet connection option, but it’s when the E332n is connected via the network that you can take advantage of the built-in embedded web server tools for printing. For most people, this isn’t really anything you will have to do or set up, but the tools are great for larger offices that want to have more control over the functionality of the printer than an average home office user will.

Plugging the E332n into my home network was no more difficult to set up than plugging in a live Ethernet cable. The Lexmark saw my network, took the DHCP supplied address and was up and ready for printing in a matter of moments. Actually, I have yet to find a Lexmark printer that did not behave the same way. Lexmark doesn’t make users jump through hoops to connect one of their printers to an Ethernet network, for which I am sure thousands of home office users are grateful for.

The supplied paper tray takes all the standard sizes, but the tray itself is a tad on the small size, at only 250-sheet capacity. If you print a lot, you will find yourself refilling the tray way too often. Fortunately, there’s an optional $180 550-page tray you can buy for the E332n model. But for transparencies or envelopes, users are forced to use the one-sheet at a time front-loading slot above the paper tray. Not an ideal situation, true, but for those who plan on doing a lot of transparency printing, you’ll probably want to look at a higher-end model.

Users are also able to print to card or heavy stock paper via the front-loading slot as well, although the paper will exit from the rear of the printer rather than the top. The reason is so print jobs of this nature are printed flat, thus they cannot maneuver up to the top of the printer. Unfortunately, there’s no way to catch the paper coming out of the back of the printer. So it’s “feed it from the front, catch it in the rear.” This also means the printer cannot be stationed up against a wall if you plan on printing these sorts of print jobs.

The toner is rated for 2,500 printings before toner cartridge changing is needed, so keep that in mind if you plan on printing a lot of documents. Changing the toner is a simple matter or pushing one button on the left side of the unit, opening the front of the case, and swapping one toner cartridge for another. Prices for a new toner cartridge will set you back around $80 US or less, depending on where you shop. Not overly expensive by any means, and considerably cheaper than an ink-jet printer when you compare the number of actual print jobs you’ll get from an ink cartridge to a toner cartridge. (Color laser printer cartridges are a different matter entirely). There is a 6,000-page toner cartridge option as well which runs about $100US, a better deal all around.

I like the design of this Lexmark printer. It’s small enough for one person to move around (22 pounds) and, as stated above, takes about the same amount of space as a multi-function printer would. It’s gloss-black and silver finish is more suited to a Dell style, but in a world in which Dell sells ten-times the number of computers than Apple does, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, it’s not ugly or unattractive by any means, and should fit in fine with most computer decors.

If you plan on printing larger print jobs on the E332n, you will need to up the memory from the 32MB that is standard. It does support up to 160MB, and installation is simple. RAM prices for this printer are expensive if purchased via Lexmark. It does use standard DIMM modules, however, so buying from a company such as Transintl.com would be more advisable.

For a fairly expensive laser printer, there is one glaring problem. No LCD or monitor. There are only a few “dummy” lights on the front of the printer, and these are fairly ambiguous. Without the setup guide or instruction booklet that ships with this unit (items that tend to get lost of tossed out in time) these lights and icons can be confusing. While adding an LCD would up the cost of the E332n, it’s a feature most printers are coming standard with today. For all the other features, the omission of a basic control panel and LCD is a huge design flaw.

Print quality was fair. Large text and high-quality graphics looked fine for an office laser printer in this class. However, in large documents with smaller text (8pts or smaller) at times were hard to see or read.

Overall, while I enjoyed my time with the E332n, it only fares about average in score for a laser printer. Print quality on a five-year old HP LaserJet I used often had better print quality overall. But print times on the Lexmark were up to twice as fast, and used less toner, than the older HP. Setup is simple, operation is quite, and cost-per-print is within norms for the industry.

MyMac.com Rating: 3 out of 5

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