Lexmark – Optra Color 40 review

office inkjet printer with PostScript
Photo of Lexmark – Optra Color 40
£370 + VAT

Today’s inkjet printers are not the most intelligent of computer peripherals. In fact, they’re getting more stupid as time progresses. With one or two exceptions, the inkjet printers for sale today can only cope with Windows-based printing, with the host PC doing all the data interpretation work. That’s fine for home users who only want to print the occasional letter or document from within Windows 95/98, but for anyone who doesn’t exclusively use Microsoft operating systems, it can cause major headaches, which is one reason why inkjet printers haven’t really caught on as office work-horses.

Lexmark seems to have noticed this, and has brought out a colour inkjet printer that, while not one of the cheapest available, is certainly one of the most versatile. Not only does it support the HP PCL 5c printer control language for which the world is overflowing with driver support, but it also has native support for Adobe PostScript Level 2. This is unheard of in an inkjet printer, and opens up new opportunities for Macintosh users to share a low-cost colour work-group printer with PC users. With a 33MHz processor and 4MB of memory as standard, rising to a maximum of 68MB, that could be quite a large work-group. In fact, there’s an optional networking package available for the Optra Color 40, which turns it into an Optra Color 40n. Logical, really. Apart from the American spelling of ‘colour’.

This versatility is all very well, of course, but is the printer itself any good? On the basis of resolution (600 x 600 dpi with 1200dpi image enhancement) and print speed (up to 8 pages per minute black and up to 4 pages per minute colour), the answer would have to be ‘Yes’. The output is crisp and sharp (inevitably looking better on high quality coated paper than on standard photocopier fare) with vibrant colours that can be enhanced still further with the use of the optional photographic cartridge. There’s a 150-sheet paper input tray and a 25-sheet output tray, various scalable fonts and a couple of high-capacity cartridges supplied with the printer, which seems strong enough to survive alongside monochrome laser printers in an office environment.

Company: Lexmark

Contact: 01628 481500


Verdict
This is one of the most versatile inkjet printers available, offering work-group capability with built-in PCL5c and PostScript Level 2 support. It's not the cheapest inkjet around, but the added features don't really add a great deal to the price of what is a high quality, networkable, colour (or color) printer.