You dont often find wireless networking, a high-quality scanner and automatic print duplexing in a printer at this price. But wait
What's in a name? Is a printer that also scans, copies, and faxes, an MFPa multifunction printeror an AIOan all-in-one printer? It's starting to look like the "AIO" marketing label is pushing aside the stodgy-sounding "MFP." The Lexmark X7675 AIO bundles the aforementioned capabilities plus wireless networking and support for myriad memory cards into an inkjet-based printer.
Besides packing a lot of features into a compact package, the X7675 also weighs in at a recession-friendly price point. Listing at $199, the Lexmark can be found at some major e-tailers for as little as $119.
Out of the Box
Built around an inkjet engine, the Lexmark X7675 is lighter and more compact than a typical laser AIO, weighing in at just 18 pounds and measuring 14 inches deep and eight inches high. The top lid sports a 25-page automatic document feeder (ADF) and lifts to reveal a flatbed scanner. The control console includes buttons for copy, scan, fax and photo (for reading memory cards), plus a fax dialing keypad and a 2.4 inch color LCD.
Also on the front is an illuminated "Wi-Fi" badge that indicates connection status, plus an array of memory card slots that support a range of devices including USB sticks, PictBridge cameras, Sony MemoryStick, MMC, CF, SD and xD cards, among others.
On the back you'll find a USB port for direct connection to a PC, an Ethernet jack for wired networking and RJ-11 jacks for fax/phone lines.
The printer does not have a paper tray like you find on a laser or some inkjet printers, but rather a vertical paper feed that holds a very modest 100 sheets.
In its favor, the X7675 offers two kinds of connectivity rarely found in AIO's at this low price pointboth wired and wireless networking. In fact, wireless networking is rarely seen in any printers, but really makes a whole lot of sense. After all, it is incredibly convenient to be able to place a printer anywhere in the room, or even in another room.
|The Lexmark X7675 inkjet-based all-in-one printer offers both wired and wireless networking options.|
The printers initial wireless connection setup is a little bit frustrating, only because you do need to connect it to a PC to associate the printer with your wireless network. It seems like this should be something you could do from the printer's own control panel (you can view network settings, but not scan for a network). We temporarily connected a laptop PC to the Lexmark's USB port, and installed the setup software from the included CD.
After the drivers install, software guides you to the wireless setup wizard, which will scan for and find available wireless networks. You can input a passphrase for secured networks using WEP, WPA, or WPA2.
Once the association is made, the printer will connect to your wireless network every time it is powered on, and the front Wi-Fi badge will light up green to show a solid connection. You can view the signal strength from the front panel LCD, but again, you cannot change the wireless settings from there.
Whether you connect the X7675 by wireless, Ethernet or USB, the included CD includes several software packages, the most central being printer drivers, the Lexmark toolbar and the Printivity Productivity Studio.
The toolbar is an add-on to Internet Explorer which gives you several buttons to trigger print jobs in normal, black-and-white or text-only mode or to schedule a Web page print job for a later time.
Printivity is a central hub with which you can scan, copy, e-mail, fax, manage and print photos as well as posters. For novices, the Productivity Studio is actually well-designed and simple to navigate, consolidating many features that you would otherwise access using a variety of third-party software packages.
First and foremost, the X7675 is a printer. Its inkjet uses two cartridgesone black and one combined three-color. You can replace the black with an optional five-color photo cartridge for producing highest quality photo prints, although most people will be quite satisfied with the quality of photos using the included three-color cartridge.
With only two cartridges, chances are that you'll need to replace the color cartridge before its truly empty, since some colors wind up being used more than others. This is where inkjets which use four, five, or six cartridges offer better economy.
The printer's fastest mode is black-and-white draft. Output in this configuration is speedywe printed out 10 pages in just a few seconds. That said, text quality in draft mode leans more toward dark gray than black and is clearly softer looking than laser printer output.
Contrast and crispness both improve by bumping up print quality to "normal" or "best" modes, but with it comes a significant hit in speed. In fact, the same 10 pages that printed in mere seconds in draft mode took nearly 10 minutes to complete in best mode.
Similarly, printing color photos in best mode on glossy paper is not a project for someone short on time. A full-page borderless print on letter-sized paper takes between four and five minutes for a single page.
Photo output in best mode is very good, despite its slow speed. The printer yields vivid photos with a slight reddish-purple shift, but certainly impressive enough to satisfy all but professional photography applications.
Another surprising and welcome feature for a printer at this price is automatic duplexing, or two-sided printing. Activated through the print driver, the X7675 can automatically print on both sides of a page. It does this by completing one side, and then drawing it back into the printer to complete the other side, before spitting it into the output tray.
Copy and Scan
Copy and scan modes will read documents from the automatic document feeder, the flatbed or both. Unfortunately the ADF does not duplex, which would really make the automatic print duplexer especially useful. As it is, you have to manually flip the input stack to send both sides through the ADF.
With optical support up to 600 x 1,200 DPI, scan quality is excellent, whether sent directly to the printer (in copy mode), to a PC or saved to a file on an inserted memory card. The slow speed of the printer is a bottleneck in the copy process, but output itself will please.
You can configure your PC to launch specified applications when triggering a scan from the printer console. In addition, Lexmark includes a TWAIN driver so that you can initiate and import scans from most graphics applications, like Photoshop.
Performing high-resolution scans across a wireless link is noticeably slower than, say, a USB 2.0 connection, but still very usable, not to mention convenient.
Walk-up Scan and Print
Because the X7675 supports a wide variety of memory cards, you can perform many functions without a PC at all. Insert a memory card or USB stick with photos and documents, and the Lexmark will let you choose files to print.
You can navigate photos displayed on the LCD, and even apply some basic editing effects like brightness, contrast, and rotation. Printing photos directly from a memory card (or PictBridge-capable camera) removes a lot of control over the process, but its a convenient way to quickly produce prints that look pretty good.
Just the Fax
For people who still need to send or receive faxes, the X7675 includes a 33.6kbps modem, and it can send faxes from the 25-page ADF. For incoming faxes you can view on-screen caller ID and block junk faxes. The printer's control panel includes a keypad for dialing and supports up to 99 speed dial entries.
Each of the X7675 two cartridges costs about $25 apiece. The black cartridge is rated at just over 500 pages, while the color can produce just over 300. This equates to about five cents per page for black outputon the higher side compared to, say, an economical laser jet.
On the other hand, the X7675 itself is practically a bargain for its feature set. You won't find many printers at its street price with wireless networking, a high quality scanner and automatic print duplexing.
That said, a business looking for high-volume monochrome output should probably consider an entry-level laser AIO. For light duty output plus high-quality borderless color, the Lexmark represents a good value considering its plethora of supporting features.
Aaron Weiss a technology writer, screenwriter and Web development consultant who spends his free time stacking wood for the winter in Upstate New York. His Web site is: bordella.com
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