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August 18th, 2000


Lexmark Z52 Inkjet Printer
Contact And Other Information
Manufacturer: Lexmark
Product Home Page: Lexmark Z52
Description: Inkjet Printer
Address: Lexmark International, Inc.
740 West New Circle Road
Lexington, KY 40550

Price: US$179 Retail
Telephone: 1.888.LEXMARK
(1.888.539.6275)

Requirements: Mac OS 8.6 or later
[Review]
Lexmark's Z52: Pro Performance At US$179
by Bill Troop

Introduction

Lexmark's laser printers have offered rock solid Mac support for years. But the Z52 is Lexmark's first inkjet that is Mac-compatible, thanks to its USB interface and Mac software. The Z52 may mark a watershed in the color inkjet printer pricing wars. Up until now, the standard setter for high end business/advanced home user inkjet printers was Hewlett Packard's 970C, at $399. Lexmark has targeted the 2,400x1,200 dpi Z52 printer to compete head on with the 970C. Lexmark's claim is to offer users the same level of quality and even greater speed, but for only $179 -- less than half HP's price. We can't recall many times in the computer industry when we have seen a greater disparity in price for the same value. Can Lexmark meet its goal? Read on for our assessment.

He said, She Said

We were not able to compare the Z52 to the HP 970C. For these comparisons we relied on reporting in the Hard Copy Newsletter, well known for its objective coverage of the printer industry. According to Hard Copy Newsletter's analysts, the Z52 print quality is on par with the 970C, yet the Z52 prints a 2400x1200 dpi photo in 3 minutes and 25 seconds, compared to 12 minutes for HP's DeskJet 970C. And plain black printing speed has reached phenomenal heights for a consumer inkjet: up to 15 pages per minute in draft mode.

Real World Testing

However, we were able to test the Z52 extensively on its own, and we were extremely impressed with the print quality and speed in both black and in color. This printer really does, at this time, represent the best value yet in an inkjet printer. It's a welcome addition to the Mac marketplace. We were particularly impressed with its ability to print high resolution photos on plain paper, though we naturally got our best results on special photo quality paper.

Color

Also notable was the Z52's 1200x1200 color printing, which is almost as good as 2400x1200 yet notably faster. An additional color cartridge is available for six-color printing, but Lexmark feels that, because of the high quality it has reached at 2400x1200 dpi most people will be happy with the three-color cartridge. We agree with this assessment. Only if you are fanatical about color photo quality will you want the additional color cartridge.

Speed

We were also impressed with the 15 page per minute draft black mode, but it must be emphasized that this is only a draft mode.

Pricey Consumables

As with all inkjets, consumables are a little pricey. Color ink cartridges have a street price around $38, or 14 cents per page, while black cartridges cost $31 street or only 5 cents per page.

Miscellaneous

Input capacity is 100 pages, and output try capacity is 50 pages. Envelope printing has historically been a strong point with Lexmark. Lexmark made the first laser printers which could print wrinkle-free envelopes back in 1991. Thus it's no surprise that the Z52 handles envelopes with aplomb, and paper sizes from 3 to 8.5 inches wide by 5 to 17 inches long.

Conclusion

In sum, this printer tells a very simple story: more bang for the buck than any other inkjet currently available on either Mac or PC.

Final Score (Maximum Score is 5 Gadgies)
4 1/2 Gadgies
Pros Excellent Quality
Low Price
Many Options
Cons Pricey Consumables



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