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Great output at a low price

Lexmark’s Z53 Color Jetprinter offers great versatility. Hardware Review 2 hed: Great output at a low price dek: Lexmark’s Z53 Color Jetprinter offers great versatility.

When I opened the shipping box containing Lexmark’s Z53 Color Jetprinter, I was immediately struck by its light weight and how the printer looks more expensive than its $139 price tag.

The Lexmark Z53 Color Jetprinter offers both parallel and USB connections and provides drivers for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows computer users. To its credit, Lexmark bundles both parallel and USB cables with the printer. When was the last time you saw that? For my initial testing, I connected it to a 650MHz Premio computer running a beta version of Microsoft’s forthcoming XP operating system. I decided to use the parallel cable because that’s what was already connected to my previous printer, and rebooted the system. After following the directions on Lexmark’s poster-sized setup sheet, Windows XP recognized the new device and let me install its driver. During the process, the OS then informed me that this particular device was not recognized or compatible with XP, but I ignored the error message and the printer performed perfectly.

I urge new computer users to take a few moments to read the short manual and become familiar with the printer’s capabilities and practice with sheets of inexpensive paper before putting in the expensive stuff. The software driver for the Z53 has a clean interface and is much easier to follow than the tabbed interface used by Epson’s Windows drivers. Taking time to use the Color Fine driver’s maximum image quality, Natural Color and Airbrush dithering may slow output down a bit, but will deliver true photorealistic output on the Kodak inkjet paper that’s bundled with the printer. I tried several other papers, including Adorama’s www.adorama.com wonderful Double-Sided Matte and Photogloss papers and even difficult-to-reproduce colors and textures, such as chrome, were impressively rendered. In addition, text and business graphics were rendered sharply, colorfully, and quickly. The printer does all this in a competent, quiet manner. In fact, it’s so quiet (45 dB) that the loudest noise is a brief cranking sound indicating that printing is completed. and the sheet of paper is then tossed into a butterfly-shaped paper tray.

Lexmark states that this printer, like the others in its 2001 Z-line–including the bargain-priced (after rebate) $49 Z23–have “regional color tables.” What this means is that Lexmark developed different color tables that “automatically install by region, delivering output that reflects the preferences of a culture.” I must confess that I was pretty casual about picking a driver, and may have accidentally picked one for Australia instead of Colorado. If it was producing crocodile-like colorations, I never noticed it.

The Lexmark Z53 Color Jetprinter handles paper sizes from envelopes to legal, and holds up to 100 sheets of paper in its feed tray. Output is delivered at up to 16 pages per minute with black ink, and eight in color, but photographs in high-resolution mode may take up to five minutes, depending on their size. As it is, the Lexmark Z53 Color Jetprinter is an excellent printer for the price.

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