Jewish World Review April 4, 2003 / 2 Nisan 5763

Lexmark's winning all-in-one

By Mark Kellner | All-in-one print/scan/copy devices are popular, in home offices and small offices, and with good reason: why have a bunch of machines to do what one device can accomplish?

For under $150, the Lexmark X5150, introduced in late January, can handle these tasks with aplomb and - praise be - now the machine also supports the latest version of Apple Computer's OS X operating system, the one popularly known as "Jaguar." The device supports Microsoft Windows, in all its flavors, as well.

Some of the best features of the unit come into play without a computer even being involved. With the touch of one button, I copied an old black-and-white photo - without using a PC. A "media sensing" technology developed by the firm automatically determines the type of paper stock in the paper tray and adjusts the printer driver to optimize output. An automatic cartridge alignment feature ensures the best print output without the hassle of manual adjustment. These are fairly substantial features for a device whose cost is so low.

Print quality, for text and photos, is also very impressive: the Lexmark device can render 4800 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi) in black and color on photo paper, inkjet paper, transparencies, and on plain paper. That means users get photo-realistic prints as well as ultra-sharp text that rivals that found in good quality laser printers. The printer features "variable color drop size technology," three picoliters (pL) for textured areas and 10 pL for solid areas, to deliver what Lexmark calls "smooth color transitions and beautifully rich detail." Me, I just call it good printing.

Those seeking reasonable print speeds won't be disappointed by the X5150, which delivers print speeds of up to 19 pages per minute (ppm) in black and up to 14 ppm in color. The device also operates as a standalone copies, with the option of reducing or enlarging images 25 to 400 percent. In draft mode, the Lexmark X5150 can generate up to 16 copies per minute (cpm) in black, and up to 11 cpm in color.

As a scanner, the Lexmark X5150 can handle photographs and books of varied thickness, and offers an effective scan area of 8.5 by 11.7 inches. Capturing image details isn't difficult with a device that offers 600 x 2400-dpi optical resolution and scanning options of 48-bit true color and 12-bit grayscale. The unit comes with software for scanning documents and sending faxes via a PC's modem. On the Mac side, it should support most fax and OCR packages.

There is more than a little intelligence designed into this product, with a series of front-panel controls that are easy to read and follow. The paper path for the device is straight, back to front, and allows for easy paper changes, including envelopes and labels. A draft mode can save ink on routine text printing jobs.

Cost-per-page is about 6 cents for high-quality black-and-white pages, between 7 and 8 cents for color, depending on which color cartridge one uses. This isn't the lowest cost-per-page one can find with an inkjet, but it's not prohibitive for many users, I would imagine.

The big issue with any inkjet printer is how much you're willing to spend on "consumables," the ink and paper needed to produce the results you want. These prices seem reasonable, especially in light of the high quality this printer delivers. You can find it retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples and Wal-Mart; it is not available directly from Lexmark. The firm does offer product information online at, however.

Would I buy the Lexmark X5150? I probably would, given that its price and capabilities fit in well with most "normal" uses at home and in a small office. It's certainly worth a look if you're in the market for a new printer/scanner/copier.

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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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