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Lexmark’s MC3426adw ($499) is an
entry-level-to-midrange color laser all-in-one printer designed for use in
small-to-midsize offices and workgroups. Like its higher-end MC2535adwe
sibling (a PCMag Best of the Year product for 2019), the MC3426adw prints well
and comes loaded with features. But it’s also significantly slower and costs
slightly more to use, which, despite its high volume ratings and paper input
expansion options, makes it a somewhat less efficient high-volume print and
copy solution—especially given the modest $100 difference in list price
between these two machines. If your volume requirements are
relatively low (say, fewer than 1,000 prints and copies each month), the MC3426adw
makes a little more sense. If, however, you print and copy a lot of color
pages, that $100 difference becomes insignificant.

At 13.6 by 16.2 by 15.5 inches
(HWD) and weighing about 42.7 pounds, the MC3426adw is substantially smaller and lighter than its MC2535adwe
sibling. It’s also a little
more compact than Brother’s MFC-L3770CDW, a laser-class LED
(light-emitting diode) AIO, another Editors’ Choice recipient. Today’s
Lexmark review unit is also somewhat smaller and lighter than Epson’s WorkForce
Pro WF-C5790
—an inkjet-based alternative to laser models, and yet another PCMag midrange
color multifunction favorite.

Starting from the top, the MC3426adw
comes with a 50-sheet, single-pass, auto-duplexing automatic document feeder
(ADF) for scanning, copying, and faxing two-sided multipage documents, which is a
common feature for color AIOs in this price range.

The Lexmark MC2535adwe, the Brother
MFC-L3770CDW, and the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C5790 all come with 50-sheet auto-duplexing
ADFs, meaning that all three can capture two-sided pages without user
intervention. However, the Lexmark’s feeder is reverse duplexing, meaning that, instead of using two sensors, one for capturing both sides of a
page simultaneously, its ADF can scan only one side at a time.

In other words, the ADF passes
one page side over the platen, pulls the page back inside the mechanism, and
then scans the other side, repeating this process page after page until the
stack of originals is gone.

By introducing
several additional steps, this process sounds more cumbersome and
time-consuming, with more possible points of failure. But
I’ve been testing machines with both single-pass and reversing duplexers for
several years now, and have found they both work well enough. And, while the
reversing method is a little slower, as I’ve said here before, they both get
the job done.

As does the 2.8-inch color
touch screen control panel, shown here…

Lexmark MC3426adw control panel

From here, you can control
nearly all aspects of using and configuring the printer, including monitoring
consumables, printing usage and other types of reports, and printing from and
scanning to the cloud. As you can see, the entire control panel is the touch screen.

Alternatively, as with most other
business-oriented printers (especially lasers), you can configure, monitor,
generate reports, set security options, and so on from the MC3426adw’s onboard
web portal, shown in the image below.

Lexmark MC3426adw web portal

As for paper handling, out of
the box the MC3426adw holds up to 251 sheets split between a 250-sheet
cassette and single-sheet override or multipurpose tray. If that’s not enough, you
can add one or two 250-sheet expansion drawers ($99 each) for a total of 751. That’s the same out-of-the-box configuration as the MC2535adwe, but the latter is expandable to
a whopping 1,451 sheets.

The MFC-3770CDW’s default
capacity is 280 sheets from two sources, and the Epson WF-C5790 holds 330 sheets
expandable to 850. This brings us to the MC3426adw’s hefty 75,000-page
maximum monthly duty cycle, and 5,000-page recommended monthly page volume.
That’s 10,000 pages fewer than the MC2535adwe’s maximum duty cycle rating and 3,500
prints fewer than its recommended-printing rating.

Otherwise, the MC3426adw’s volume
ratings far exceed the ratigs of the other models mentioned here, by as much as 45,000
maximum and 3,500 pages recommended.

Copious Connectivity, Operating
System Support

Lexmark’s printer naming
conventions (the “adwe” versus “adw” at the end of each name) can be a little
confusing. Where you might think that the “e” stands for Ethernet, it actually stands for e-Tasks.”

Lexmark AIOs with e-Tasks enabled,
such as the MC2535adwe discussed throughout this review, typically come with
larger (4.3-inch) touch screens on which you can enable an e-Tasks tab, or
interface. The e-Tasks themselves are predefined shortcuts you can download
and/or create to perform various tasks, such as executing workflows for document management, or printing from or scanning to applications. Since the MC3426adw doesn’t
support e-Tasks, let’s move on.

Standard
interfaces include Ethernet (up to Gigabit), connecting to a single PC via
USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and Near Field Communication (NFC). Those last
two, of course, allow you to connect your mobile devices to the printer without
either it or them being part of an intermediary network.

Other mobile connectivity
options include (take a deep breath) TCP/IP IPv6, IPSEC w/IPv4, IPSEC w/IPv6, TCP/IP IPv4, ICMP, TCP, IGMP, UDP, 802.1x, LPR/LPD,
Microsoft Web Services (WSD), FTP, TFTP, Enhanced IP (Port 9400), and IPP (Internet Printing Protocol) 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0. You also get support for the
following operating systems: Apple AirPort, AirPrint, and AirScan, as well as
Windows back to version 7; Windows Server and Citrix back to 2003; and
finally, various iterations of Novell Open Enterprise Server and Linux
Enterprise Server 2 up to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP4.

Middling Print Speeds

Lexmark rates the MC3426adw at 26
pages per minute (ppm) in simplex, or one-sided, mode and 13 images per minute
(or ipm, where each page side is an image) in duplex mode. However, since the MC3426adw defaults
to duplex mode, we also test and record how fast it prints two-sided pages. Of
the other printers mentioned here, only the Lexmark MC2535adwe defaults to
duplex; we don’t test and record duplex print speeds on machines that do not
default to that mode. (I tested the MC3426adw over Ethernet from our standard
Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Pro.)

The MC3426adw churned out our
12-page Microsoft Word test document in duplex mode at 16ipm and the same
document in simplex mode at 25.4ppm, or just under its rating. The
MC2535adwe printed the same document in duplex mode at 1.2ipm faster and in simplex
mode at about 14.4ppm faster. (See how we test printers.)

The MC3426adw trailed the Brother
MFC-L3770CDW by 1.4ppm. In the next test, I printed several complex color Acrobat, Excel, and
PowerPoint documents laden with business graphics and photos, then I
combined that score with the results from printing the 12-page text document to calculate an average speed for printing our entire suite
of test documents. Here, the MC3426adw churned at an unimpressive 11.1ppm in simplex and 8.3ipm in duplex mode, or 5.8ppm and 3.5ipm slower than the
MC2535adwe.

The Epson WF-C5790 outpaced today’s Lexmark test unit by 6.6ppm, while the MFC-L3770CDW came in 1.2ppm slower.
Finally, though you most likely wouldn’t buy this or another laser machine for
printing keeper snapshots, I tested how long the MC3426adw took to print PCMag’s two vibrantly colored and highly detailed test 4-by-6-inch photos.
It managed an average of 48 seconds, which is about what I see from most other
color laser AIOs. Inkjet machines, on the other hand, typically print small
snapshots in under 30 seconds. (The WF-C5790, for example, printed each snapshot in about 11 seconds.)

Impressive Output

Most laser printers churn out
near-typesetter-quality text nowadays, and the MC3426adw is no exception.

The text
documents I printed were more than appropriate for the preponderance of
business settings. Where some laser AIOs don’t stand out, though, is in
printing terrific-looking business graphics and photos. Not a problem here, though—the
Excel charts and PowerPoint handouts with gradients and solid fills that this AIO churned
out were nearly faultless, with smooth gradations from one color to the next
and no other noticeable toner-distribution issues. Blacks and other dark fills
and backgrounds came out uniform, and colors were vibrant, brilliant, and accurate.

The MC3426adw’s photos also looked terrific, with bright and accurate colors and excellent detail. As
with any laser printer, though, the shortcoming is that laser printers can’t print borderless images. Photos (and some other types of documents) look
more “finished” and professional when the content bleeds to the edges of the
paper.

Uninspiring Running Costs

Another downside to midrange
laser printers over some of their inkjet counterparts and higher-end,
higher-volume models is that the former are often comparatively expensive to
use. If you use Lexmark’s highest-yield black (4,500-page) and three color (each also 4,500-page)
toner cartridges, the MC3426adw will cost you about 2.3 cents for monochrome
pages and 13.4 cents for color pages. By comparison, the MC2535adwe will save you about half a cent per black page and 1.7 cents per color print.

That may not sound like much, but let’s say that you print this AIO’s 5,000-page recommended monthly volume
each month. That’s a difference of $85 per month. In other words, you would all
but wipe out that $100 MSRP difference in the first month, and then go on to
save over $1,000 per year.

You might get even better
results with Epson’s WF-C5790 (or another EcoTank Pro model) and its 1.7 cents for monochrome pages and 7.7 cents for color ones. Using the same math from the above calculations, the same
5,000 color pages would save you about $385 per month and $4,620 per year—enough
to buy several of these machines over the course of their service times, and a
huge inventory of consumables.

Decisions, Decisions

The bottom line is that there’s
nothing wrong with the Lexmark MC3426adw; it’s a fine color laser AIO. But
today’s competition, even among machines from the same manufacturer, is ferocious.

As we see frequently with products positioned and priced so closely, the Lexmark MC2535adwe may list (and sell) for
only $100 more, but its volume, input-expansion options, and feature set greatly
overshadow the MC3426adw, to the extent that I can recommend today’s test unit only for specific
settings where balancing the slightly lower purchase price with the higher
running costs makes sense.

In most cases, if you
print thousands of pages each month, you’ll recoup the difference between these
two Lexmark models so quickly that, in the long run, that $100 won’t matter
much. Even so, if you’re looking for a robust, feature-rich laser AIO for
printing and copying a thousand or so color pages per month, month after month, the
Lexmark MC3426adw can do that—and then some.

Lexmark MC3426adw Specs

Type All-in-one
Color or Monochrome Color
Connection Type USB, Wireless
Maximum Standard Paper Size Legal
Number of Ink Colors 4
Number of Ink Cartridges/Tanks 4
Direct Printing From Media Cards No
Direct Printing From USB Thumb Drives Yes
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color) 26 ppm
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono) 26 ppm
Monthly Duty Cycle (Recommended) 75,000
Monthly Duty Cycle (Maximum) 5,000 pages per month
LCD Preview Screen Yes
Printer Input Capacity 251 expandable to 751
Cost Per Page (Color) 2.3 cents
Cost Per Page (Monochrome) 13.4 cents
Print Duplexing Yes
Automatic Document Feeder Yes
Duplexing Scans Yes
Standalone Copier and Fax Copier, Fax

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