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8/96 Reviews HW: Lexmark Optra N 240

Listing of August 1996 Reviews

Get Net Results with Speedy LAN Printer

By James Alan Miller

For Lexmark, the Optra N means it has a new flagship network printer. For you, it means the often rough seas of network printing just got a little calmer.

I tested an Optra N 240, which comes with 4MB of RAM, but no built-in network interface. You can use its parallel port to connect to a print server or networked system. The printer has two slots that will accept network cards, as well as an options slot and a serial port. The Optra N 245 ($3,600) has a MarkNet Ethernet 10BaseT/-10Base2 interface and 16MB of RAM as standard features. You can expand RAM on both models up to 64MB. Other upgrade options include 1MB to 4MB of flash memory, a 100MB hard disk, an adapter for PCMCIA Type III hard disks, a duplexer ($669), and MarkNet's XL and LocalTalk network adapters.

The Optra N 240 supports PCL 5 and PostScript Level 2, and switches automatically between them. It has 39 Type 1 fonts (PostScript Level 2) and two bitmap fonts. In my tests, the Optra N 240 performed very well, with print speeds approaching its 24-page-per-minute rating. The unit's hardware resolutions are 300dpi and 600dpi, which can be upped to 2400x600dpi using various software resolution enhancement schemes. Print quality was very good to excellent in my tests.

The printer has 15 settings for darkness, and there are numerous configuration options that are selectable using the large LCD panel and six buttons.

The concise Setup Guide thoroughly covers all aspects of setup. After unpacking the heavy (106 pounds) printer, I installed the print cartridge and loaded the paper trays. The printer comes with two 500-sheet trays: The top tray holds A4, B4, letter and legal-size paper; the lower handles those sizes, along withA3 and 11-by-17-inch paper. A multipurpose tray accommodates 100 sheets of paper, 20 transparencies or 10 envelopes. A 2,000-sheet input drawer is available for $1,299, and the optional 100-envelope feeder costs $549.

The Optra N 240's software, MarkVision, includes utilities for Windows 95 and 3.1x, DOS and OS/2. There's also software to manage network print jobs for several environments including NetWare, Windows NT and Windows 95. MarkVision identifies and lists network printers; double-clicking on a printer displays information about it. It shows, for example, a picture of the Optra N 240 with a graphic of its LCD panel displaying the printer's current status. Another section shows the printer's configuration and the amount of paper left in its trays.

Lexmark designed the Optra N 240 for ease of use, speed and print quality-and it succeeded. You'll probably want to consider, however, the Optra N 245, with its built-in network interface and 16MB of memory.

-- Info File --
Lexmark Optra N 240
Pros: Performance; setup
Cons: No built-in network interface
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x, NT,
NetWare; other networks
Lexmark International
800-891-0331, 606-232-2000
WinMag Box Score 4.0
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