The $299 Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 carries a low cost of ownership and boasts an impressive color touch-screen control panel, but its color prints lack the detail of other multifunction printers from HP and Epson. Despite its ability to print, copy, scan, and fax along with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity, the Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 makes a better fit for low-volume home offices if your main concern is saving money on consumables and ink. On the other hand, if you're shopping for a multifunction that gives you impressive output quality in black as well as color, we recommend checking out the HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One C310a.
Design and features
The Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 is a compact device for all it can do, measuring 9.8 inches high by 18.3 inches wide and 15.4 inches deep. Part of the reason is its single 150-sheet, silo-drawer-style paper tray, (although you can add an optional second paper tray to the bottom, sold separately of course.) On top, the printer maintains a small profile despite a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), and overall with its curved lines and black-and-gray color scheme, the Pinnacle Pro901 boasts a clean, modern design.
The front of the printer is dominated by a 4.3-inch color touch-screen LCD. It sits at a fixed angle, but remains very readable whether you're sitting or standing. On either side of the screen you'll find touch-sensitive virtual icons including with familiar navigation functions such as "home," "back," and others. The power button on the right edge of the front panel is the only physical button, and you get a PictBridge USB port and multiformat media card slot just below that. Around back, you get the classic multifunction trio of Ethernet, USB 2.0, and modem ports.
Installation is straightforward: install software and drivers from the bundled CD, plug in the power cable and then connect the printer to your PC. You can connect via Wi-Fi using just the printer's touch-screen LCD; you simply choose your network from a list, enter your password, and you're done. We conducted our performance tests using a direct USB connection and were glad to find Lexmark buck the industry trend and actually include a USB cable in the box. The power cord is on the short side, measuring only 6 feet, which may limit where you'll place it or require the use of an extension cord.
Thanks to its large, colorful icons, navigating the touch panel is easy. Copy, scan, and fax icons populate the home screen, along with a fourth icon for Lexmark's SmartSolutions. Along the bottom of the home screen you'll find smaller icons, including one that enables the Eco Mode (power saver after 10 minutes, dimming the screen, and two-side printing). A clear, graphical view of remaining ink in each tank sits in the lower-right corner. The LCD will display alerts when you are about to run out of paper as well.
Another icon on the touch screen takes you to LexmarkSmartSolutions, which is Lexmark's version of a printer app store. Setting it up is a bit clumsy, however. You will need to create an account at Lexmark.com, then find your way to the SmartSolutions Center on Lexmark's Web site, click a button to add a printer, wait for it to find your printer, then type in a 6-digit code on the printer to establish a connection. Also, you can't download apps directly from the printer, but must do so by using the SmartSolutions site on a PC. The SmartSolutions site also needs work, as there are only a handful of apps that you can easily add to your printer by simply double-clicking or dragging and then syncing.
For all the rest, including free apps, you have to add to your cart, checkout, place order, then sync, with a software download occasionally required. Too many steps. Aside from a handful of $30 to $40 LegalZoom.com apps, the apps in the SmartSolutions Web site are free. At this writing, there were 68 apps listed, from categories including calendar, forms and templates, news and sports, photo, real estate, shipping, social networking, and tools. Out of the box, the Pinnacle Pro901 includes two SmartSolutions apps: ID Card Copy, which copies the front and back of a business card onto a single sheet of paper, and Photo Reprint, a shortcut for making copies of photos.
The flatbed scanner features a 1,200-by-4,800 dpi resolution, and its hinges pull out an inch or so, which makes it possible to scan or copy pages from a thick textbook. You can initiate a scan from the printer, or scan to a PC including an option to select which application will receive the scan. You can also scan to a memory card or a USB drive connected to the printer, or send the scan to e-mail when the printer is connected to a network.
The Pinnacle Pro901 employs a four-ink tank system: black, yellow, cyan, and magenta. A high-yield color ink cartridge (model 100XL) costs $19.49 and is for a rated 600 pages. That works out to 3.2 cents per page. The high-yield black cartridge (105XL) costs only $4.99 for a rated 510 pages, which is less than a penny a page. The cost per page for color prints is roughly average, while spending less than one cent per page for monochrome prints is industry leading. In comparison, the Epson WorkForce 840 costs more than 3 cents for monochrome pages, while the Lexmark Prevail Pro705 costs 5 cents per monochrome page.