Lexmark E1240N PrinterI gave up on inkjet printers a long time ago, and have been using an Epson 5700i Laser printer for years now. It finally ran out of toner a month ago and I was without a printer for the first time.

A printer is one of those things you never really think about. While printer makers have tried to market printers as multi-function devices, photograph printers, and anything else they can think of, in reality you just really need an affordable monochrome laser printer that works with your current computer setup. Color laser printers are actually now hitting the $400 range, but toner refills are quite expensive and having to replace multiple toner colors, makes color printing three times more expensive than monochrome.

In my case, the Epson 5700i was due for replacement. My home network had grown to encompass multiple Macintosh and Windows machines, so I needed a printer that could reside on the network and accept print jobs from both Mac OS X and Windows machines. While there are many brands to choose from: Brother, Samsung, HP, and Epson to name a few, I decided on the Lexmark E240N, as the most appropriate solution for a small multi-platform home network.


In the printer world, HP is the number one printer company. If you absolutely want great quality, you need not look elsewhere. However if you have price concerns and are trying to get the most for your dollar, HP printers cost more and have less features. This becomes rather obvious when you try to find an HP printer with network capability in the $300 range. This made me consider Lexmark, because they are known for their printers and not much else, and even Dell sells Lexmark printers exclusively.


The feature that makes the E240N stand out is the built-in print server. Just connect the printer via Ethernet to your router or hub, and you have an instant network printer. For Windows, you can print in PCL6 and for Mac OS X, you can print in emulated Postscript Level 3 or Level 2. The print server is accessible via a web-page interface, but you really will not need to access the print server interface at all. The IP address of the printer is DHCP enabled, but you can install an IP setup utility and change the printer to a specific static IP address.


The E240N prints 1200 DPI x 1200 DPI and can print about 27 pages per minutes. The DPI is defaulted to 600 to save toner, but you can set it to 1200. There is a manual feed tray that you can use to print envelopes and transparencies. When printing envelopes it is best to use a high quality envelope, as thinner quality envelopes will tend to curl with the heat of the printer. To use the manual feed option, you print in your application and then the indicator light on the printer will notify you it is ready to accept via the manual feed tray.


The printer comes standard with 32MB of memory, but it will accept a 64MB printer SO-DIMM for a total of 96MB of memory. Printer drivers are available for Windows98 thru WindowsXP, Linux, and Mac OS X. Lexmark does not include any USB cables or Ethernet cables. The included toner is only a starter unit that is rated for half of what the standard toner cartridge is rated for.


The only annoyance I have experienced with the E240N is that every now and then it will wake itself up and adjust itself. The noise is not unusually load, it is just that it is a bit alarming when working at night or in a quiet office. Space can be a problem too, seeing how all network printers tend to be quite large. In comparison the E240N is a bit smaller than a comparable HP network printer, but it does take up some space. If space is a concern the Lexmark E120N is a small compact laser printer with more conservative features. When I was comparing prices, the E120N is actually cheaper if you purchase it from Lexmark directly, but the E240N is a better bargain if bought through an online store such as Newegg.com.