It's a tricky balancing act to get great looking color documents without sending your accountant into cardiac arrest. The Lexmark Z53 Color Jetprinter meets the challenge. With a price of $139, this affordable inkjet won't break your budget as you add color to your printouts.
Setting up the Lexmark Z53 is a no-brainer. We followed the easy, seven-step, illustrated instruction chart. We placed the surprisingly light printer on our desk, opened the access panel door in the back, and plugged in the printer cable (not included) and the surprisingly heavy power adapter. After running New Hardware Set-up on our Windows 98 PC, we were instructed to pop in the Lexmark CD-ROM disk, which installed the software itself. After rebooting our PC and calibrating our printer, we were up and printing.
The Lexmark Z53 boasts 2400 by 1200dpi resolution, which is a step up from the Lexmark Z51's 1200 by 1200dpi inkjet printer. In fact, the Lexmark Z53 has the same chassis as the old Z51, but the new model has a tasteful blue sheet feeder and output tray.
Lexmark claims that the Lexmark Z53 prints up to 16ppm in black and white and 8ppm in color, but we couldn't reach those speeds. In our print tests, we printed 20 copies of black text in 3 minutes and 52 seconds in Normal mode at 600 by 600dpi.
We picked up considerable speed when we opened Microsoft Word's Print Preview window, clicked the Properties button, and changed the print quality from Normal (600 by 600dpi) to Draft mode (300 by 600dpi). When we hit the Print button, the Lexmark started cranking. In a minute, we had 11 legible pages of text. Upon closer inspection, however, we noticed that the black text was more gray-black - like a three day-old newspaper - than the deep black found in Normal mode. Users can print documents for internal use quickly and without wasting precious inkjet toner.
In our color test, we set out to print eight pages in Draft mode, and we wound up with four and a half faded printouts in 60 seconds. You would only want to print in this mode when doing a final read-through of your next PowerPoint presentation. But when we popped in a few pieces of Kodak Premium Picture Paper and selected Maximum Print Quality of 2400 by 1200dpi, we were bowled over. The colors were sharp, vivid, and ready for framing.
The Lexmark Z53 is a terrific value and should make an excellent addition to the small office with limited, specific printing needs.
Lexmark Z53 Color JetprinterRating: 88
Manufacturer: Lexmark International800-539-6275; www.lexmark.com
Requirements: Windows/Mac/Linux computer with parallel or USB port (not included)
Pros: Great price; easy setup; terrific ink level checking capabilities
Cons: Not as fast as company claims; draft mode is for your eyes only