Lexmark International intends to do for printing what WiFi did for notebook computing.
The Lexington, Ky.-based print vendor unveiled a set of 802.11g-enabled additions to its inkjet color printer and Multi-Function Printer fleet on Aug. 21, including a Wireless Print Server to wireless-enable existing printers, and an evangelization campaign to cut the cords.
On September 5, Lexmark followed up these wireless printer product announcements with a release providing answers for "common questions people ask as theyre learning how to set up wireless printing," from Paul A. Rooke, executive vice president of Lexmark International and president of its Printing Solutions and Services division.
Connecting to printers and Multi-Function Printer devices via 802.11 WiFi, rather than USB or Ethernet cables, makes it easier to locate and relocate peripherals to convenient places, which means reducing or eliminating the need for multiple devices, and avoiding the need to run Ethernet, which can involve drilling holes through floors or walls or both.
"Wireless is all about convenience," states Craig Mathias, founder of Farpoint Group, an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. "Being able to set up a networked printer in minutes and put it anywhere you want - thats convenient."
Lexmark is targeting these new 802.11g color inkjet printer/MFPs, priced under $300, at the SOHO (small office/home office) and consumer markets, but keeping an eye on the mid-market and enterprise, said Lexmarks Justin Johns.
"Were making wireless printing affordable and simple" Johns said. "We saw that it was a little complicated to do wireless printing, and was usually available only in high-end products outside of the price rage of most SOHO [or] consumer buyers. We knew that wireless is often a challenge. Theres a light on the front of the printer that indicates whether or not its connected, you can tell from the color… And once youve done the configuration for the printer for the first computer, the install on additional computers is even quicker."
The average price last year for a printer with built-in wireless, according to Johns, was over $300. "We wanted to bring wireless features into a price range that the average SOHO [or] consumer was purchasing." And, Johns adds, "For a SOHO or consumer printer or AIO (All-in-one device) with wireless, the duplex, ADF [automatic document feeder] and evercolor2 ink features fit well."
The Lexmark Z1520printer, which retails for $129.99, includes media card slots, and can print 30 black-and-white or 27 color ppm (pages per minute). The Lexmark X4850. X6570, X7550—all of which retail for $199.99— and the X9350, with a retail price of $249.99, are printer/scanner/copier all-in-one devices.
All these devices offer duplex—two-sided—printing, include Lexmarks evercolor2 pigment ink system for photos which are fade-resistant and water-resistant, and highlighter-resistant text, built-in USB, and include media card slots for media—for reading/printing digital photos, for example—supporting a wide range of formats, according to Johns. For security, all models support WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2.
"The X4850 provides the same speeds as the Z1520, and includes a 2.4" color LCD for viewing pictures directly. The X6570, which has the same price as the X4850, has a 25-page ADF and fax, but no LCD, and does 28 ppm black-and-white, and 24 ppm color. The X7550 includes the 25-page ADF, fax and LCD features, and does 30 ppm black-and-white and 27 ppm color, and the X9350 has a 50 page ADF, a larger (150 sheet) input tray and second-tray option, LCD, fax, does 32/27 ppm black-and-white/color, and has built-in Ethernet." Additionally, Johns said, "All our wireless products let you scan, and do card-slot transfers, wirelessly."
Daniel P. Dern is an independent technology writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Editors Note: The Lexmark X7550 is $199.99. It was incorrectly reported as $149.99.