Product Reviews

Product Reviews

In Brief

Lexmarkís combination color inkjet printer, copier, and scanner is an outright bargain. Less boxy and less ugly than its predecessors, the PrinTrio it wonít win any speed contests, but output looks very good. And output quality is what really matters. And itís quiet. The only thing it doesnít do is fax.



Lexington, Ky.


When it comes to others making multifunction printers for the home market thereís not to choose from. Lexmark has more products than anyone else, but be sure to check out entries from Canon and Hewlett-Packard. Epson, the other leader in inkjet printers, curiously, does not compete in this market.

Printer Reviews

Reference Guide is your authority when it comes to testing printers. Read these current product reviews:

ē Lexmark C510 color laser

ē HP Color LaserJet 3700

ē HP portable Deskjet 450

ē Lexmark PrinTrio combo printer/scanner/copier

ē Lexmark E320 mono laser

ē Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo label printer

ē Brother QL-500 label printer


Key Specs

Printing: Thermal Inkjet
Scanning: Contact Image System

4Reduce/Enlarge Range: 25% to 400%

Print (dots per inch):
  2400 x 1200
Scan (pixels per inch):
  600 x 1200 Optical
  9600 x 9600 Enhanced

4Print Speed (text only, draft mode, in pages per min.):
11 ppm max. black
6 ppm max. color

4Scan Area: 8.5" x 11.7"

4Copier Speed (draft mode)
9 copies per min. black
4 copies per min. color

4Multiple Copies: 99 max.

4Operating Systems:
Mac OS 9.2.2,
Mac OS X (10.1.5)
Windows 2000, 98, Me, XP

4Input Capacity:
100 pgs. 20 lb. bond

4Size: 6.6" H x 18.1" W x 13.3" D

4Weight: 10 lbs.

4Noise Level: 44 dBA

4Duty Cycle: 3,000 pgs/mo.

4Warranty: One Year Limited


Lexmark PrinTrio Printer/Scanner/Copier


By Joel Shore

October 18, 2002


Itís a bird! Itís a plane! Oh, wait, wrong story. Letís try this instead: Itís a printer! Itís a copier! Itís a scanner!

Lexmarkís outrageously affordable X75 PrinTrio (or just PrinTrio) is all of those. If you can live without fax capabilities, the PrinTrio is a great choice for your home, apartment, office, or dorm.

The idea behind the PrinTrio is simplicity in triplicate. We all print. We all have to make copies. And we all have documents or photos that we want to somehow get into our computers. Fuse those functions together and youíve got whatís known in the industry as a ďmultifunction peripheral.Ē Why no fax? Cost. Adding fax means adding a numeric keypad (for dialing phone numbers) and a fax modem. Lexmark couldnít do that and still keep the price below the magic $150 barrier. You can, however, scan a document and then fax the scanned image using your computerís fax software (or install the included fax software) and modem.

Simple set-up. Like your laptop computer, the PrinTrio uses an external power adapter. But the way it connects is rather unusual. Your laptopís adapter has two cords: a 120-volt cable that runs from the wall to the transformer unit, and a low-voltage cord that runs from the unit to the computer. This method lets you keep the power adapter off your desk and out of the way. But the PrinTrioís adapter isnít like that at all. Instead of that second low-voltage cable, the adapter plugs directly into a locking port on the back of the printer. To us, thatís pretty weird. Instead of building the power circuitry inside the printer, youíve got this odd-looking thing sticking out the back. It would be a lot nicer if you could let it sit on the floor, but you canít. Disaster? No. Odd? You bet.

After inserting paper, you install the two ink cartridges then plug the USB cable into the printer and into your computer. Finally, you install the software from the included CD-ROM. The software installation was a breeze and took only a few minutes. After that youíre ready to go!

It doesnít get easier than this. Scanning is a one-button operation. Making copies requires a choice: color or monochrome.

Control Panel. The PrinTrioís control panel, like the rest of the unit, is sheer simplicity. Thereís a power button with LED indicator. Thereís also a status indicator LED and a paper feed button. Thatís where the similarity to other inkjet printers end. At the front edge of the control panel are two buttons for making copies: a blue one for color copies and a black button for, well, black and white copies. Thatís convenient: you can make copies when your computer is turned off, and you can opt not to use that expensive color ink when copying color originals. Finally, thereís a button labeled scan. With it you can scan a document, photograph, page from a book, or any other suitable original that will fit on top of the flat glass copy bed. Of course, to save a scan as a file, youíll need to have your computer up and runningóunlike the copy operation.

Designed for everyday users, the PrinTrioís software is laid out in a logical, easy-to-follow manner. Choices are clear and simple to find.



view full-size screen

At last, user-friendly screens. Thereís a lot of software out there that intimidates users, or worse, makes them feel stupid. Well, shame on the vendors that come up with this stuff. Itís the computer and itís the software that should do the hard work, not the user. Lexmark gets it.

The software that accompanies the PrinTrio is phenomenal. Itís the pictures that tell the story. For example, in the screen shown above (click on it to display in full size), the center portion lets you choose the print quality and speed. Thereís Quick Print, Normal, Better, and Best. But thereís a lot more there than just a button to click.


Lexmark deserves a gold star for itís wonderful, user-friendly software


Look closer, at the icons with each selection. Quick Print shows three columns of text, along with a stop watch showing little elapsed time. The next choice, Normal, shows some text and a pie chart. The chart represents presentation graphics, which are mostly large chunks of solid colors. The stop watch indicates this takes a little longer to print. The Better option shows a small amount of text with a photo alongside, a more intricate print job. Sure enough, choosing this mode takes longer to print. Finally, the Best mode shows a photograph suitable for framing (and no text at all). This highest-quality mode takes the most time to print.

So why canít every hardware and software company do this? Beats the heck out of me. But Lexmark gets a gold star on its corporate forehead for explaining matters so clearly.

Lift the PrinTrioís hinged top to easily copy or scan pages from a book.

All is not per-fect, though. What weíve been raving about is the software for printing and choosing image quality. The PrinTrio also comes with image-editing software. You can do some basic editing,
like cropping
and adjusting brightness, but you sure wonít mistake it for a full-blown photo-editing software application. If you plan to do a lot of touching up of old photos, invest about $100 in a more powerful photo-editing package.

Mix its no-frills approach with its great print quality and easy-to-use software, and youíve got an all-in-one peripheral suitable for home, home office, dorm room, and even an executive suite. Itís probably not sturdy enough to stand up to continuous heavy corporate use, though. If you donít need a built-in fax, and can use your computerís fax software and modem instead, then the Lexmark PrinTrio is a great choice. At less than $150, the PrinTrio will be as attractive on your budget as it will look sitting on your desk. <

Yeas & Nays


4Very good print quality

4One-button operation

4Software easy for non-experts to comprehend

4Sleek design


4Poky print pace

4Output tray holds only 50 sheets

4No built-in fax

In the Box

ē Lexmark PrinTrio

ē Black ink cartridge

ē Tricolor ink cartridge

ē Software CD

ē Setup sheet

ē Userís guide

ē Power adapter

Expensive Ink

Do you get the feeling you're getting the printer nearly free but paying a fortune for ink? You just might be right:

In the second quarter of 2002, ink supply sales represented 53 percent of total revenue at printer maker Lexmark. In other words, the company sold more ink than it did printers! For the first six months of 2002, Lexmark's inkjet supply sales were $1.1 billion, more than $300 million higher than printer revenues. (Associated Press report, Oct. 10, 2002)


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