Inkjet printers have dropped in price to an extent that it has become more economical, in some cases, to replace the entire printer when the ink runs out rather than buying the extravagantly-priced ink cartridges. And flatbed scanners are similarly cheap, available in some cases for less than fifty quid. All of which means that it makes a lot of sense to put the two products together, wave a magic R&D wand and create something new, like this all-in-one device.
Actually, the idea of an all-in-one colour printer, scanner and copier isn’t really new, even to Lexmark, but the X85 does represent an improvement in many areas over the company’s previous models. Based on current 4800 x 1200dpi inkjet print engine, the X85 has combined ink cartridges and print heads, which means that the entire printing mechanism is replaced whenever you change the cartridge – good for quality, potentially not so good for price, although in practice there’s little to choose between this and other systems in price terms. Regardless of this, the print quality is excellent; more than sufficient for the home or small office user.
The other important part of this nicely-designed desktop gadget is the flatbed scanner, which will handle A4 documents at a scanned resolution of 600 x 1200dpi, with 48-bit colour depth. So it’s certainly good enough to handle pictures and business documents, as we discovered when we scanned in magazines, photographs and letters.
And the added bonus of the copier function – with buttons for colour, monochrome, quality, and so on – is very handy. There’s a small LCD panel to show you the current copier settings and it all works well, if rather slowly compared to a conventional copier, as you’d expect. Lexmark quotes 10ppm (pages per minute) for mono copying and 3ppm for colour, although these numbers will drop considerably in the higher quality modes.
In theory, the Lexmark X85 can also be used as a fax machine, but it doesn’t actually have its own modem built in. So this means you have to use the supplied PC software and your existing modem; not ideal for offices where the PC is switched off overnight, but since faxes are becoming less popular – apart from junk faxes – this isn’t likely to be a huge problem.
So far so good. In fact so far so very good, because a quick glance at the price tag will show that you get a lot of equipment for your money. In addition, the X85 may be made from the same flimsy-feeling plastic as its rivals, but it’s still pretty well built and should survive a few knocks and rough handling in the office.
Our only minor niggle during testing was that the Lexmark X85 has no parallel port; just a USB connection. This is fine if you want to connect it to a single PC, but business users might prefer the option of two interfaces, if only so the printer can be connected as a stand-alone device rather than via a network-attached workstation. This is only likely to be an issue for a minority of users, though.
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