Lexmark PrinTrio Printer/Scanner/Copier
By Joel Shore
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.
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
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
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
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. <