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9/96 Reviews HW: Lexmark Color Jetprinter 2050

Listing of September 1996 Reviews

Printer Provides Lots of Color for Little Green

By James Alan Miller

If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of the printer is in the output. The Lexmark Color Jetprinter 2050's output looks great. What's more, its under-$300 price tag will leave you with cash to spare. You get a fully featured color ink jet printer that'll add pizzazz to your documents with-out sacrificing good text quality. Its rated speeds of 5 pages per minute draft and 4ppm normal monochrome, and 2ppm draft and 1ppm normal color, make it competitive with other printers in its class. The 2050 performs very well, earning high marks for print quality.

The printer features 600x600dpi printing in color and monochrome. It handles up to 150 sheets of plain paper, 50 transparencies or label sheets, and 15 envelopes. Its footprint measures a meager 10.6 by 17 inches, and it weighs a mere 9.75 pounds. It has a one-year warranty and arrives with Lexmark's Workshop CD-ROM, which has software designed to help you get the most out of your ink jet.

To install the printer, simply follow the bundled brochure's instructions. Because so much of the printer's documentation is online, the brochure is pretty slim. An online user guide is convenient, but I'd prefer to see it complemented by adequate paper documentation. To install the software under Windows 95, put the 2050's Setup Disk into your floppy disk drive, select Run from the Start Menu and type A:Setup. After the ink cartridges are installed, an Align Cartridge utility appears, and a test page with horizontal and vertical blue and black lines prints. You get four alignment options: Horizontal, Vertical, Bidirectional Color and Bidirectional Black. Select the number in the software corresponding to each section's correctly aligned line.

This printer's output looks terrific. I printed a four-page Word document under several configuration options. As expected, presentation-quality text under 600x600dpi resolution provides the best results. You get clear, crisp laser-quality letters. Text under normal and draft modes isn't shabby, either. I'm especially impressed with the draft mode; though it's a bit light, you still get good characters. I got some smudging on a page after grabbing it immediately upon output, but the whole page dried in a second or two. Color output quality is even more impressive. The printer delivers excellent results under high- and lesser-quality settings on plain and glossy paper as well as transparency media. With the coated paper, the image quality makes you think you're looking at a real photograph. Transparencies are not prone to smudges.

It took about 30 seconds to print a good-quality text page with around 800 words-faster than the rated speed-and more than a minute in the best mode. A large 1.2MB color document takes around 10 minutes, but the quality makes the wait well worth your time. It sure beats making a trip to Kinko's. Transparencies took about 14 minutes for the same file with the driver set for optimal output, and only eight minutes under presentation-quality with the resolution dropped down to 300dpi; there was little noticeable degradation in this mode.

If you need color documents with good photograph-quality printing at a low price, you'll want the 2050 on your desk. This printer won't drain your bank account, so you can buy all the ink and media you want.

The Lexmark Color Jetprinter 2050 offers 600x600dpi output for both color and monochrome printing.

--Info File--
Lexmark Color Jetprinter 2050
Pros: 600dpi color and monochrome; software
Cons: Skimpy paper documentation
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x
Lexmark International
800-891-0331, 606-232-2000
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

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