Lexmark has launched its new range of printers; the colour laser C730 series, colour multifunction X730 series and the mono multifunction X200 series. So, with all three sectors already well represented by Lexmark and its competitors, where do the new machines fit in and what's different about them?
The C730 series is intended for mid- to large sized workgroups printing large volumes in a busy office environment. Print speeds vary from 28 pages per minute for the C734 to 33ppm for the C736 and maximum monthly duty cycles are 9,200 and 10,000 prints respectively. Both printers come with 256MB RAM as standard and use Postscript 3 and PCL 5/6 emulation. A quick glance at the specs would suggest that the C734 and C736 will be positioned either side of the HP CP3525 and Xerox Phaser 8560, which means that Lexmark will find it tough to make an impact unless their pricing and/ or end user offers are extremely keen. The C730 series may be extremely good machines but consumers will need a good reason not to go with one of the big two. The current C780 series compares favourably with its rivals on running costs and, if the C730 follows suit, it may attract the more cost-conscious buyer.
The X730 series is the multifunction counterpart to the C730 series, with the addition of the 35ppm X738 at the top of the range. The most striking features of the X730 series are its impressive seven inch touch screen and its unfortunate styling. Multifunction printers are not the prettiest of beasts by their very nature but the X730 is best avoided by those of a nervous disposition. Once again, its success, or otherwise, may depend on pricing and running costs – plus, of course, disillusioned ex-Xerox and HP customers. Finally, the X200 Series completes the set. Both the X203N and X204N will print at up to 23ppm and will copy, scan and print while the X204N also comes with a built in fax and automatic document feeder. 64MB RAM comes as standard, as do Postscript 3 and PCL 5/6 emulation. Image resolution is 1200 x 1200 dpi; this is true resolution, not enhanced, so text and images should appear sharp and clear.
In this segment of the market, Lexmark will probably find itself competing with Brother and Canon, both of whom are offering three year warranties with their printers. The all important issue of pricing will determine which models the Lexmark printers come up against; perhaps Lexmark should make life easier on itself and start offering three year warranties as well.
by Anthony Morgan