By Steve Bass | Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 10:11 am
Lexmark makes its money the old-fashioned way. It sells printers at higher-than-competitor’s printers, but then sells the ink cartridges at reasonable prices.
I tried the Lexmark Prestige Pro805 multifunction printer for over a month (I won’t review something unless I have decent hands-on time, despite howling from the PR people).
Amazon discounts the Lexmark Prestige Pro805 for $200, which is about what others discount it for. The Pro85 uses four single-ink cartridges. When purchasing directly from Lexmark, you’ll pay $5 for black and $10 for color. Shipping is free and Lexmark’s recycling program gives you two free cartridges for every five you buy and return empty in a year.
Lexmark claims you can get 510 standard pages from one black cartridge. What’s standard? you might ask (nope, I don’t know). Is anyone willing to put this to the test (besides HP, Epson, and Brother, who as far as I know, haven’t)? Okay, so we’re going to have to take Lexmark’s word for it.
If you register the printer, the warranty period is extended to five years. I have no clue how to judge the value, except to say only a few of the inkjet printers I’ve used have lasted that long — so I guess that’s saying something. You also get toll-free access to tech support for the life of the printer.
The Pro805 is a color inkjet printer with a flatbed scanner, a copier function, and an automatic document feeder that holds up to 50 sheets of paper. (That came in handy for when I had to copy scads of docs for my parents.) If you need fax capabilities, try the cheaper Prevail Pro705 (it doesn’t have an LCD display).
The paper tray holds 150 sheets. The printing speed is 10 pages per minute for black and 6 ppm for color; the Pro85 does two-sided printing and prints at 2400- by 1200 dots per inch in black and 4800-by-1200 dpi in color.
The Pro850 has both USB and memory card ports — you can print directly from either. The other way around works, too: Scan and save as a photo, document, or PDF directly to a flash drive or to your PC.
There are three ways to connect the printer to your PC: wireless, USB, or networked through an Ethernet connection.
I gauge the value of a product using two criteria: Would I shell out the bucks for one? What would I say if you wrote and asked for a recommendation?
No matter how cheap the ink cartridges are, the 850Pro needed to be easy to install and use, and it had to perform well. The Lexmark Pro850 got high marks in all areas and had only a few annoyances.
I was enamored with the interactive installation tutorial. Briefly, I watched on-screen animations that told me what to do, step-by-step. Even as an experienced user, I didn’t feel like I was being talked down to; it just made the process go smoothly.
The LCD touch screen is logically designed for navigating through the scan, copy, and other functions. It’s also useful for previewing a document (you see exactly what will print) to make sure it looks okay before actually printing.
I also like Lexmark’s SmartSolutions site, which lets me add tools to the printer. For instance, I wanted to scan directly into EverNote, a free organizer. Or instead of navigating to a certain function, I wanted (and got) a shortcut that gives me icons for specific functions–to, say, make a black-and-white copy, or on legal-size paper.
I’m getting weary of seeing my energy bill go up while watching an endless stream of LCDs needlessly lighting up my office. So I like the Pro850’s economy mode that dims the LCD screen and sets the printer to a power saving level after 10 minutes. Even though I recycle paper that’s been printed on one side, I really like the two-sided printing feature to save paper.
Nothing’s perfect, but the Lexmark’s annoyances are small.
[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]