Earlier in the year Lexmark introduced a new line of monochrome laser printers designed to help small and medium-size businesses lower costs while saving paper and energy. The new Lexmark E Series monochrome laser printers are designed with eco-conscious features such as built-in two-sided printing to reduce paper waste, instant warm-up fuser (saves energy when not in use and still ensures the first page of your document prints quickly), an Eco-Mode (reduces power consumption further), and the Lexmark Cartridge Collection Program for easy recycling.

Lexmark’s E260d (Best Current Price: £182) and E260dn (Best Current Price: £211) are both A4 monochrome laser printers that pack productivity-enhancing features into a relatively compact (260×406×370mm, 13.53kg) and quiet (53dBA operating) design that fits onto a desktop. With one of the fastest rated print speed in its class, the E260 models print at speeds up to 35ppm (pages per minute). They also feature simple, front-loading toner cartridges and quick setup, but disappointingly there is no integrated wireless printing option. The difference between the two models is that the more expensive E260dn adds Ethernet connectivity (along with USB 2.0 and parallel) so that you can share the printer over a network. Either model also supports optional input drawers for increased paper handling.

The E260dn prints black at a native resolution of 1200×1200dpi, but it thinks green thanks to built-in duplex printing and a replacement toner cartridge with a 3500 page yield. Under the hood it boasts a 400MHz processor and 32MB of memory as standard. For more demanding print jobs, memory can be expanded to 160MB. Also worth noting is that the printer supports Windows, Mac OS, and Linux/Unix and Sun Solaris operating systems – impressive!

Paper handling is no better or no worse than other printers in its class. Paper handling as standard comprises a 250-sheet input tray, 150-sheet output bin, single sheet exit, single sheet manual feed, and integrated duplex (prints on both sides of the paper). An optional 550-sheet drawer is available – taking total capacity up to up to 800 sheets – but only one of these drawers may be installed at a time. Heavy printers should note that envelopes can only be printed one at a time, there are no finishing options, and the printer has a maximum recommended monthly print run of 50,000 pages. Media types supported are bog standard: card stock, envelopes, paper labels, plain paper and transparencies.

For thirteen years, Lexmark has recovered and reused or recycled spent toner cartridges. The result is less solid waste and fewer resources consumed. This program has also provided a source of work for handicapped and disadvantaged adults who sort returned cartridges for recycling and remanufacturing. The Lexmark Cartridge Collection Program includes various methods of return and sponsors unique collection partnerships around the world. Collection programs are always free to the end user and are designed to be easy to use.

A prepaid mailing label is inserted into each cartridge box. By reusing the same bag and box that your replacement cartridge arrived in, you will contribute to reduce the amount of materials – such as cardboard and plastic – that need to be recycled at a later stage. After installing the new cartridge into your Lexmark printer, you simply seal the used cartridge in the bag your new cartridge came in. Then you place the sealed bag containing the used cartridge into the replacement cartridge empty box and tape it closed, attach the return label you will have found in the box, and mail the package. For bulk returns, Lexmark has designed containers that enable multiple cartridges to be collected at the same time. It delivers convenience for the customers as well as it helps to reduce the amount of transport needed.

A desktop-friendly device, Lexmark’s E260dn provides good all-around convenience and a compact design that fits just about anywhere. Add in the fact that it’s very quiet and easy on the eyes, and you’ve got a neat office partner to spend your day with. If you’re looking for hassle-free printing and don’t have specific paper handling or finishing requirement, the E260dn is a good value choice. Print quality is perfectly acceptable for text, but images are a bit disappointing. Lexmark even throws in a basic network management application along with the driver itself, which provides both PCL 6 and Postscript Level 3 emulations along with the ability to print watermarks and multiple pages per sheet. We’d have liked the ability to walk-up and print via a USB memory stick, along with the option of fitting Wi-Fi, but these features would bump the price.