Lexmark’s MB3442adw ($429) is a midrange monochrome laser all-in-one printer designed primarily for medium- to high-volume print and
copy workloads in small and midsize offices and workgroups. Like the Canon imageClass MF424dw that copped an Editors’ Choice here two years ago, the MB3442adw prints good-looking content at a respectable clip,
and at competitive running costs. Overall, these two AIOs are closely matched, both in purchase price and cost per page (CPP), but the Lexmark pulls ahead in a
few key areas, including input-tray expansion, volume ratings, and a few other productivity-enhancing
subtleties. We wish it cost just a bit less on a per-page basis to print on the MB3442adw, but even so, it earns our Editors’ Choice
A Not-So-Level Playing Field
At 13.3 by 16.2 by 14.4 inches
(HWD) with its trays closed and weighing a modest 28.2 pounds, the Lexmark MB3442adw is,
for a full-featured laser AIO, petite. (It supports print, copy, scan, and fax functions.) The Canon
MF424dw I just mentioned stretches further in height and depth by several inches
and weighs more by about 7.6 pounds, and Epson’s WorkForce Pro WF-M5799 is
a few inches taller and longer still and outweighs the MB3442adw by around 13
If you need to save even more surface
area, though, Epson offers another inkjet-based laser-printer alternative (and another PCMag
favorite), the EcoTank ET-M3170 Wireless Monochrome All-in-One Supertank
Printer. Though the EcoTank trades off significantly in volume and capacity, it gains
a lot in terms of desktop real estate and running costs (discussed in a
moment). Meanwhile, like most monochrome AIOs in this price range, the Lexmark comes with a 50-sheet, single-pass auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF)
for sending two-sided multipage documents to the scanner.
Of the other monochrome AIOs
mentioned here, all three have single-pass, auto-duplexing ADFs, which means
that they all come with two scanning sensors, which allows them to scan both
page sides simultaneously. But the EcoTank’s ADF holds only 35 originals.
This may seem like an insignificant discrepancy, but as you read on, you’ll see
that while the ET-M3170 lists for about the same price, you sacrifice a lot in terms of volume, capacity, and features to get lower running costs and a
You can handle configuration
and usage monitoring, as well as printing, copying, faxing, and automatic
two-sided scanning and copying, from the MB3442adw’s 2.8-inch color touch
screen. It supports not only convenient interaction with essential functions and tasks, but also includes integrated cloud connectors that help you
save scans to and retrieve files from your favorite cloud services. (The supported services include
Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive.)
Notice (in the image above) that located directly behind the control panel is a USB port for printing
from and scanning to flash drives. As with most business-oriented
printers and AIOs, you can perform most control panel functions, as well as
peruse usage, security configuration, and other status reports, from just about
any web browser, including those on your team’s smartphones or tablets.
In addition to Lexmark’s default
printer driver or page description language (PDL), the MB3442adw comes
with HP’s PCL5c, PCL5e, and PCL6 (Printer Command Language) and Adobe’s PostScript
3 and Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) 1.7 emulation.
Typically, these PDL
emulations are included to increase compatibility with graphics design and
desktop publishing environments, and are therefore more useful with color
printers. However, deploying these PDLs,
along with the included 300 or so scalable and fixed-width PostScript and PCL
fonts, lets you use your laser machine as a prepress proof printer for checking
typesetting and object sizing and placement.
As for paper handling, the MB3442adw
comes ready to hold up to 350 pages, split between a 250-sheet drawer and a
100-sheet multipurpose tray. You can expand that to 900 sheets via an optional
550-sheet tray ($139). By comparison, the Canon MF424dw and Epson EcoTank ET-M3170 each hold
251 sheets from two sources, and they’re not expandable, while the Epson WF-M5799
holds 330 sheets and is expandable to 830.
Lexmark rates the MB3442adw’s
maximum monthly duty cycle at an astronomical 80,000 pages per month, with a
suggested monthly print volume of one-tenth that. None of the other machines
mentioned here comes close. The Canon’s maximum rating, for example, is 50,000 pages, with a recommended monthly print volume half
that of the Lexmark. The WF-M5799’s duty cycle is 35,000 prints fewer, with a
suggested volume of 2,500 pages.
Connectivity and Operating
The Lexmark’s standard interfaces are
Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB, and Wi-Fi Direct. That last one, of course, lets you
connect your mobile devices via a peer-to-peer protocol, without either your devices or the printer itself being part of the same network. In
addition to Wi-Fi Direct, other mobile options include connecting via Apple
AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Mopria, the Lexmark Mobile Print app, and the
Lexmark Mobile Assistant app.
Those last two, Mobile Print
and Mobile Assistant, among other things, help your mobile devices scan to and
print from local drives on your network or popular cloud sites. Lexmark also provides
support for one of the widest selections of operating systems I’ve seen, including (but not limited to) Windows 7 and above; macOS and iOS via
AirPrint and AirScan; and numerous versions of Windows Server, running Terminal Services,
Citrix, and Citrix MetaFrame Presentation Server. The MB3442adw also provides
drivers for various iterations of Novell Open Enterprise Server, Linux Enterprise
Server, and NetWare 6.5 Enterprise Server.
Just Short of 40 Pages Per
Lexmark rates the MB3442adw at 42
pages per minute in simplex or one-sided mode and 17 images per minute (or
ipm, where each page side represents an image) in duplex or two-sided mode. Since it (like most other Lexmark AIOs) defaults to duplex mode, we tested and
recorded how fast it prints both one- and two-sided pages. (Of the other
printers mentioned here, only the Canon MF424dw defaults to duplex; we don’t test and record duplex speeds on machines that do not default to that
mode.) I tested the MB3442adw over Ethernet from our standard Intel Core
i5-equipped testbed running Windows 10 Pro. (See how we test printers.)
The MB3442adw churned out our
12-page Microsoft Word test document in duplex mode at 23.5ipm (6.5ipm faster than
its rating) and the same document in simplex mode at 38.8ppm (3.2ppm slower
than its rating). The imageClass MF424dw printed the same document in duplex mode at 5.1ppm
faster and in simplex mode at about 2.5ppm slower. The other
AIOs mentioned here were at least 10ppm slower.
Next, I printed our set of
complex color PDF, XLS, and PPT documents laden with embedded charts, graphs,
and other business graphics. I then combined that score with the results from
the 12-page monochrome text document to come up with an overall score for
printing our entire set of business documents. Here, the Lexmark MB3442adw turned in a score
of 18.3ppm (15.6ipm duplex). That score inched past the Epson WF-M5799’s 17.2ppm and the Epson ET-M3170’s 15.8ppm, and fell behind the Canon by 3ppm.
And, though the MB3442adw is
not a photo printer, I also timed it as it printed our test 4-by-6-inch snapshots.
It averaged about 9 seconds per image, which included the time it took for the
driver to convert the colors to grayscale.
Monochrome laser printers are
chosen most often for environments that need to print a lot of text documents,
with the occasional business graphic thrown in. To that end, the MB3442adw
churns out highly legible, near-typesetter-quality text at all point sizes,
even some smaller sizes down around 5 and 6 points.
For the most part, the
grayscale graphics I printed look good, too. I did notice some slight
banding and minor streaking in some darker gradients and fills, but not nearly
enough to cause significant diminishment to overall document quality or the
intended message. I’ve no complaints about the MB3442dw’s output.
Ho-Hum Running Costs
A drawback to midrange laser
printers over some of their inkjet counterparts is that the former are usually
comparatively expensive to use. If, for example, you use Lexmark’s
highest-yield (6,000-page) toner cartridges, the MB3442adw will cost you about
2.3 cents per page.
That’s the same as the Canon
MF424dw, about three times more per page than the Epson WF-M5799, and about
eight times more than the Epson ET-M3170. Granted, the Epson inkjets provide a much greater value over the long haul, but neither of them is as fast,
nor are they designed to print and copy more than about 2,500 pages each month.
You can get some relief by going
with a high-volume monochrome laser printer, such as Brother’s MFC-L6700DW, which
delivers running costs of about 1.4 cents per page. If you print several thousand
pages each month, that 0.9-cent difference can save you a lot of money over the
life of the printer. The printer itself will cost you roughly a couple hundred
dollars more than the MB3442adw, but depending on how much you print, it could
well be worth it.
Often, when all things are
equal, how much you pay for a printer isn’t nearly as important as how much
it costs to use.
A Sound Laser for Offices
My only complaint about this Lexmark is that, despite its lofty duty cycle and recommended monthly
volume, it costs just a little too much to use. A machine designed to churn out
8,000 pages each month is a lot more attractive with running costs at or slightly below 1 cent per page. To that end, there’s the Editors’
Choice Brother MFC-L6700DW, not to mention a few others we’ve looked at over the
past few years. If you only need to produce 2,000 to 3,000
pages each month, one of Epson’s monochrome models, such as the WF-M5799, will do.
If, on the other hand, your output must be laser (toner), and if slightly high running costs are not a huge
concern, I can’t think of a reason not to buy the Lexmark MB3442adw.
Lexmark MB3442adw Specs
|Color or Monochrome||Monochrome|
|Connection Type||Ethernet, USB, Wireless|
|Maximum Standard Paper Size||Legal|
|Number of Ink Colors||1|
|Number of Ink Cartridges/Tanks||1|
|Direct Printing From Media Cards||No|
|Direct Printing From USB Thumb Drives||Yes|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)||42 ppm|
|Monthly Duty Cycle (Recommended)||80,000|
|Monthly Duty Cycle (Maximum)||8000 pages per month|
|LCD Preview Screen||Yes|
|Printer Input Capacity||350 expandable to 900|
|Cost Per Page (Color)||2.3 cents|
|Automatic Document Feeder||Yes|
|Scanner Type||Flatbed with ADF (Standard or Optional)|
|Maximum Scan Area||Legal|
|Scanner Optical Resolution||600 by 600 pixels per inch|
|Standalone Copier and Fax||Copier, Fax|