By Steve Bass
I think we’ve got the razor-blade method of marketing printers figured out: Sell the printer for a couple of bucks, then gouge and exploit us on cartridges. I hate it.
Lexmark makes its money the old-fashioned way. It sells printers at higher-than-competitor’s printers, but then sells the ink cartridges at reasonable prices.
Pay the Big Bucks
I tried the Lexmark Prestige Pro805 multifunction printer for over a month (I won’t review something unless I have decent hands-on time, despite howling from the PR people).
Amazon discounts the Lexmark Prestige Pro85 for $200, which is about what others discount it for. The Pro85 uses four single-ink cartridges. When purchasing directly from Lexmark, you’ll pay $5 for black and $10 for color. Shipping is free and Lexmark’s recycling program gives you two free cartridges for every five you buy and return empty in a year.
Lexmark claims you can get 510 standard pages from one black cartridge. What’s standard? you might ask (nope, I don’t know). Is anyone willing to put this to the test (besides HP, Epson, and Brother, who as far as I know, haven’t)? Okay, so we’re going to have to take Lexmark’s word for it.
If you register the printer, the warranty period is extended to five years. I have no clue how to judge the value, except to say only a few of the inkjet printers I’ve used have lasted that long — so I guess that’s saying something. You also get toll-free access to tech support for the life of the printer.
The Pro85 is a color inkjet printer with a flatbed scanner, a copier function, and an automatic document feeder that holds up to 50 sheets of paper. (That came in handy for when I had to copy scads of docs for my parents.) If you need fax capabilities, try the cheaper Prevail Pro705 (it doesn’t have an LCD display).
Lexmark all-in-one is economical and smart.
The paper tray holds 150 sheets. The printing speed is 10 pages per minute for black and 6 ppm for color; the Pro85 does two-sided printing and prints at 2400- by 1200 dots per inch in black and 4800-by-1200 dpi in color.
The Pro850 has both USB and memory card ports — you can print directly from either. The other way around works, too: Scan and save as a photo, document, or PDF directly to a flash drive or to your PC.
There are three ways to connect the printer to your PC: wireless, USB, or networked through an Ethernet connection.