Product Reviews

Product Reviews

In Brief

Great for home, dorm, or home office, the E320 excels at churning out sharp text. Instead of spending a fortune on inkjet cartridges, the E320 is well-suited for text-intensive reports. A network-ready model, the E322, is also available.


E320, $299.99;
E322, $419

Lexmark International
Lexington, Ky.


When it comes to monochrome laser printers, the roster of manufacturers remains pretty steady. For comparably priced personal lasers printers, check out Brother, Hewlett-Packard, and Tally.

More Printers

Turn to Reference Guide for reviews of the top printers. We’ll look at laser, inkjet, big ones, small ones, and more.

Lexmark C510 color laser

HP Color LaserJet 3700

HP portable Deskjet 450

Lexmark PrinTrio combo printer/scanner/copier

Lexmark E320 mono laser

Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo label printer

Brother QL-500 label printer


Key Specs

Resolution: 600 x 600 dpi;
   with 1200 quality

Speed: Rated at 16 pages
   per minute

Time to first page:
12 seconds or less

Memory (std./max.):
   4 Mbytes / 68 Mbytes

Ports: Parallel, USB;
   Ethernet, Token-Ring
   options available

Input Capacity: 150-sheet
   tray, optional 250-sheet
   drawer available

   8.7" H x 15" W x 14.2" D

Weight: 19.8 lbs.

Noise Level:
   49 dBA, operating,
   35 dBA, idle


Lexmark E320 Monochrome Laser Printer


By Joel Shore

Monochrome laser printers are amazing. When the first desktop model appeared in the 1980s, it delivered a mere 300 dots per inch resolution and was priced at more than $3,500. And you couldn’t download fonts to its meager amount of internal memory. You used what was built in. If you didn’t like it, well, tough.

We’ve come a long way. Lexmark’s $300 E320 prints at 600 x 600 dots per inch (dpi), four times the resolution. And it’s capable of quality equivalent to 1200 dpi. Here’s a great printer for home or dorm room, when razor-sharp text is valued above all else.

Easy setup. There’s no big deal to hooking up the E320. You have a choice: parallel or universal serial bus (USB) ports. If you are replacing an existing printer that uses the parallel port, you’ll have a cable at hand. If not, go with USB. It’s quick and uses a thin cable.

Keeping costs down. So why are some laser printers so expensive? Easy. Other laser printers, especially those designed for large businesses, have costly extra features, like 2,000-sheet paper trays, the ability to be managed over a network by an administrator miles away, and a monthly duty cycle of up to 200,000 pages. They also have powerful processors and print engines that can spit out as many as 40 pages a minute. Personal-use printers don’t need any of that. But they do have something in common with their industrial-strength counterparts: superb-looking output—and that’s what really counts.

Hands-on testing. We printed several kinds of documents, mainly as a check for print quality. After all, that’s really the only thing that matters. From Microsoft Excel, we printed a spreadsheet that had cells shaded. Both the shading and the very fine grid lines printed sharply with no broken lines. Our word-processing document from Corel WordPerfect printed equally well. Finally, we printed a couple of high-resolution color photos. They were all right, but they didn’t have quite the snap that a true 1200 x 1200 dpi printer would have. We didn’t mind, because this isn’t a printer you buy for printing photos in the first place.

We really like the Lexmark E320 (and its network-ready twin, the E322). If you use this product mainly for text-based reports containing occasional graphics, you’ll get great results. Save that expensive ink in your inkjet printer for those photos.<

Yeas & Nays


4Rated at 16 pages per minute

4Easy set-up

4Excellent text output

410,000 page-per-month duty cycle

model available


4So-so photo printing

4Black only, no color

Laser vs. Inkjet

The E320 is a laser printer that offers a number of advantages over an inkjet. This includes permanence of output to eliminate smudging, the ability to archive documents with no threat of fading, and a lower cost per page to minimize long term printing costs.

Want the best of both worlds? USB makes it possible. Get an inkjet for color and a low-cost monochrome laser for text. You could never hook up two printers using that miserable old parallel port!


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