Review: Lexmark X4850 Printer – Do Not

This blog entry was first posted on Felloffatruck Publications on 23 February 2008. It’s the only review that ever appeared on this site. I reposted it on 27 July 2008, firstly ’cause it attracted a fair bit of interest at the time, including from a person at Lexmark, and secondly ’cause, after six months, things had only gotten worse. And traffic on this post and elsewhere on the Web suggested that lots of other people were having trouble too. Naturally, after more than 10 months, we finally got the thing to work. If you’ve found this post while searching for up-to-date comments on this printer, read this post first. And if you’re having connectivity issues, be prepared to check, and possibly replace, your wireless router.


First, the review. Then, my explanation for why I’m doing it here.

The Lexmark X4850 Printer is one of those “inexpensive” (a duke’s ransom instead of a king’s; the street price would still, even with what’s happened to food and fuel prices lately, buy a couple of week’s worth of groceries for a family of four) 3-in-1 jobs – copier, printer, scanner. Its extra wrinkle is that it’s supposedly wireless. Set it up and send your print jobs from anywhere within the range of your wireless network. Sounds like a great idea if your home or office has a wireless network already going, eh?


After two weeks of wrestling with it, with both a Mac OS10.4 and a Windows Vista system, I can safely tell you, that, if you’re in the market for something like this, buy something with a good old fashioned USB or Firewire connector, and forget about spending the premium for a wireless connection that DOES NOT EXIST.

I must have tried to install the printer driver for this thing about seventeen times. The actual driver installation was flawless, so far as I can tell. The problem came with the wireless setup. Half the time, the Setup Utility for wireless would tell me that the configuration failed. OK, back up and start again. Uninstall, reboot, reinstall, fail, uninstall, reboot, reinstall. Oh, it worked! Cool. Print something.

Y’think? “Word cannot find the printer.” If Word (or any other utility that will allegedly print a page) doesn’t just simply hang. Force quit, uninstall, reboot, reinstall. Troubleshoot. Computer in wireless mode sees the IP address of the printer, all other systems are supposedly GO. Fine, machine, so Print something. Nothing.

OK, it’s the router. Don’t know where the router instructions are, don’t have the patience to dig them up. Bedtime.

Which is where the situation got left until Quilly tried to print with her Windows Vista machine. Same problems, same conclusion. Until she hooked up her computer to the printer via USB, printed a page, and two came out. The printer had read the file in wireless mode and placed it in the print queue, but refused to activate the queue until it was wired to a computer.

It so happened that Quilly’s problem was solved by rebooting the computer and the printer enough times so that both machines stopped standing at opposite ends of the room, arms folded and looking anywhere but at each other, and condescended to communicate.

But meanwhile, my Mac got a case of the dreaded flashing question mark and had to go to the shop, from which it returned with a new hard drive, a new Mac OS 10.5.1, and not much else. It didn’t need all that ruddy inconvenient data and software anyway. Including the 4850’s printer driver. Which I reinstalled. For all the good it did. The computer and printer still won’t talk to each other via wireless. And now, they won’t talk to each other over the USB cable either.

Just maybe some one of you out there has a high enough geek quotient to understand what’s happening and what to do next. My experience with people paid to have such a geek quotient can be summarized by “ka-CHING for him, wasted time and money for me”. And a recent websearch suggests that I’m far from the only one who has had this experience lately. The only thing I’ve worked out to do that doesn’t spit in the face of the law of diminishing returns is:

a) Don’t buy Lexmark products again.

b) Tell everyone not to buy Lexmark products – certainly not this one.

Now, silly me (the “explanation” part of this post starts here), I thought the place to post this review was, not on my blog, but on one of the many “product review” sites that are out there. After all, type in “lexmark X4850 review” on your favorite websearch engine, and these sites are what come up first. And, begging your pardon, I don’t want to tell just you regular readers “Don’t buy this piece of crap”. I want to tell everybody.

So I start writing down on one of these sites just what I told you.

Then I looked down at the bottom of the page …

“Please register to post your review.”

Oh no you don’t, donkeybottoms. I know a ka-CHING when I see one. Not to mention a spam gateway. You can keep your filthy, sewery hands the [string of expletives deleted] out of my pockets. You’ll disturb the moths.

I must have looked at half a dozen of these sites. Same thing every time.

So, fine. The review gets posted here. For all the good it will do. Might as well be a gnat in the basement of the Lexmark corporate offices. But, for all you “glass half full” people out there, I guess I got to tell somebody. Lucky you.

Why do we put up with this stuff anyway? I mean, how many times do we have to hear about people making more money than most countries from computer products that don’t work?!? In case you didn’t know:

Bill Gates, according to the 2007 Forbes magazine estimate, is worth, by himself, around US$56 billion.

The 2006 gross domestic product for the State of Hawai‘i – the entire frickin’ state – was $58 billion. Fourteen US statesand 125 countries – had 2006 GDPs less than that of Hawai‘i.

The If Windows were a car gag has to be a decade old now if it’s a minute (see also here, and tell her Quilly sent you), but what’s changed from:

Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

Eh? Especially the “you would simply accept this” part?

Quilly and I had a conversation not long ago about a blog post from a person who was complaining bitterly about the price for her season tickets to some sports team or other – not to mention the parking, the concessions, the this, the that. “When”, this person asked, “is this all going to end?”

The two of us came up with the same answer at the same time.

When you stop buying the tickets.

Excuse me while I shut this blog down, turn off the computer, toss it in the bin, and go look for pencil and paper.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2008 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. oh man…I was thinking of buying a wireless printer for my laptop. We have a Win 98, XP and now the Vista laptop. The laptop has stopped the “blue screen of death” thing since there have been a LOT of updates. I briefly looked last winter once when I had gone to the computer store to get an ink cartridge. Had hoped Santa would bring one, but didn’t. Guess I wasn’t that good after all.

    Did the Lexmark guy say it was your Mac that was causing the problem? I don’t know anything about Macs, except we had one a very long time ago and I did not like it at all. I’d already gotten used to Windoze….and that was like 15 years ago. We didn’t have the internet and I don’t really know why we had it, except my husband really thought they were the berries. Oh well.

  2. I wouldn’t usually write in capital letters but DON’T BUY THIS PRINTER!!!

    A friend and I both both it having read the
    macworld group test on multi-function printers… which it won (see

    Neither of us has managed to get it to print wirelessly (“printer is busy” — it’s not), I can when wired but he can’t, neither of us can get the scanner to work (“can’t download software from printer”?!?!??).

    I am on Mac OS X 10.5.4, I have downloaded the latest version of the driver from the Lexmark UK site (as of 29 Aug 08).

    Incidentally, I had a black and white, laser, wired Lexmark which worked well so I thought I’d upgrade.

    Any help / ideas would be welcome!

  3. i would have to say that i had a hell of a time hooking the printer up took me almost 4 hours. i did spend 3 hours trying to reconfigure my router though but then the printer was connected and it still wouldn’t work. finally i uninstalled it then reinstalled it. this time i let the test page print fully. it finally worked after that. tough job but im definitely not a computer expert and i figured it out. windows vista os.

  4. Check back in a week, bnola. Every time we go to use this printer (I’m too lazy to send it back and too cheap to buy another one), something else goes wrong. Right now, with one of my Macs, the thing will only print with the USB connection (no wireless); with the other, it will only print with the wireless connection (no USB). I’m dreading what will happen if we ever manage to figure out how to get the Windows XP computer we just purchased online.

  5. I bought this printer a year ago and have dreaded it ever since. The wireless printing never works at all no matter what I do; and the wired printing doesn’t work either. The ink finishes in a week when I use it to copy and it just SUCKS!!

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