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The Lexmark X2500 is further proof that Lexmark is trying to corner the budget printer market. The previously reviewed Lexmark Z1300, at $25, is the cheapest single-function printer we've seen, and now, the X2500 is by far the cheapest all-in-one we've seen. The $60 multifunction is still $20 less than HP's budget Deskjet F380 and $30 less than Canon's Pixma MP160. We weren't expecting much from a $60 multifunction, to tell the truth, but the Lexmark X2500 pulled through with surprisingly fast task speeds and overall decent task quality. This all-in-one is best suited for home users who want to have a "just in case" multifunction on hand for the rare print or copy.
The Lexmark X2500 employs a simple, basic design for an all-in-one. The white-and-light-gray unit stands 16.9 inches wide, 11.5 inches deep, and 6.9 inches tall (without paper trays extended), and weighs a light 10.4 pounds. The scanner lid opens to reveal an A4-size flatbed scanner.
The paper input support juts out from the rear edge of the printer and is fronted by a translucent gray shield that prevents wayward objects from falling in and jamming the paper input. The output tray extends from the front of the printer. A fold-out flap helps corral longer sheets. The X2500's control panel is rudimentary, consisting of just six buttons, four of which are start buttons for various tasks. The other two are paper feed and cancel buttons. Two ink icons light up when ink levels are low. There's no display to speak of, so you'll have to make most task adjustments through the bundled software utility.
Lexmark gave the X2500 a two-ink tank system: one black and one tricolor (CMY). The black tank can be replaced with a photo ink tank for six-color photo prints. Lexmark uses a three-tier pricing plan for ink tanks: regular, return cartridge program (using regular capacity tanks), and high-yield cartridges. The regular black tank prints about 175 pages and costs $22. Under the return cartridge program, in which users send empty cartridges back to Lexmark for recycling, the same tank costs $18. The high-capacity version (550 pages) costs $25. The equivalent versions of the tricolor tank cost $23 (150 pages), $19, and $30 (500 pages), respectively. Using the high-yield cartridges for best value, we estimate that a black-only print costs about 4.5 cents per page and full-color prints cost about 10.5 cents per page. Both costs are low for a multifunction inkjet printer in this price range. The photo cartridge costs $25.
The Lexmark X2500 can print, scan, and copy, and although it's not equipped with a built-in fax machine, you can use it to send faxes via your PC. The feature set is standard for a low-cost all-in-one. When copying, you can make mono or color copies via separate start buttons in the control panel. You can also copy 4x6 photos using the dedicated photo copy start button. When copying other documents, you can shrink or enlarge originals 25 to 400 percent and make up to 99 copies at once. Because the X2500 lacks a text or LCD display, you'll have to turn to the bundled Lexmark Imaging Studio (on the driver CD) to make these changes. The copy function is a bit confusing at first, as it starts off as a scan. After the scan is complete, you can choose output options such as size, number of copies, and color, grayscale, or black and white. It's definitely more convenient to be able to make these selections on the printer itself, rather than require that the attached PC be powered on to make all but the most basic selections, but it's hard to fault a $60 all-in-one. And on the upside, it's handy to be able to preview your copy before printing it.
You can initiate scans from the printer itself or via Lexmark Imaging Studio. When you start the scan from the printer, the Imaging Studio window pops up on your PC to let you make changes; aside from cropping and rotating, most of the edit options are photo-oriented, including red-eye reduction, color effects, exposure, and hue/saturation. Though the X2500 lacks an automatic document feeder for multipage scans, the Imaging Studio software lets you scan multiple pages to a single file. When it comes to saving scans, your options include JPEG, bitmap, GIF, and TIFF among others. You can also save it as a PDF, though that option requires that you open the scan in Adobe Acrobat (which you'll need to have installed already) to convert the file. Other program options include MS Word, PowerPoint, Paint, and Notepad. You can also attach it to an e-mail or send the scan as a fax via your PC.
Because the X2500 lacks built-in media card readers, you can only print photos through your PC. Imaging Studio makes printing photos, making poster prints, and creating slide shows easy, and it gives you a lot of editing options, but its greeting card feature is limited.
For a $60 all-in-one, the Lexmark X2500 offers a surprisingly full range of features. Not all of them are as easy to use as on more expensive all-in-ones, but that's hardly surprising.
The Lexmark X2500 did better than we expected in CNET Labs' tests, especially for a $60 printer. When printing text, it beat its more expensive competition from HP and Epson with a score of 4.34ppm (pages per minute), though it trailed the Canon Pixma MP160's 5.81ppm. It also printed 4x6 photos fairly quickly--0.77ppm--again, behind only the Canon's 1.36ppm. The X2500 fared well in scanning tasks too: 5.36ppm for grayscale and 4.45ppm for color. Both scores are a full page slower than those for the Canon.
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Text|
In the quality evaluations, the Lexmark X2500 did an impressive job for the price. Its text was nicely dark and looked great at arm's length. Closer examination showed jagged edges--we expected this, but the imperfections weren't as bad as we'd predicted. The color graphics print showed smooth and consistent graphics and color, though the page had an overall faded look to it. Color gradients were smooth, and color blocks were nicely saturated. The photo elements displayed decent detail as well. The only major issue we had with the graphics print (aside from the faded quality) was the presence of very faint horizontal striations, most noticeably in color blocks. The 4x6 photo print showed the same issue with striations, as well as graininess in color blocks. The photo needs to be sharper and some details were lost to haziness. Additionally, the colors had a dull, somber cast to them.
The X2500 did a pretty good job with the grayscale scan: it was sharp, and it handled patterns well, though we noticed compression in the dark end of the grayscale, as evidenced by lost details in shadow areas of photo elements. The color scan wasn't as well-rendered: the resulting image was overly dark and the scanner had some problems recreating a smooth color gradient. The bar code patterns were rendered an unscannable blur.
Overall, the Lexmark X2500's task quality isn't stellar, but considering its tiny $60 price tag, we can't judge it too harshly. Users who purchase this all-in-one to have on hand for those "just in case" moments will be satisfied.
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Graphics||Text|
Service and support
Lexmark offers a standard 1-year warranty for the X2500. Toll-free phone support is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. ET. You can also chat online with tech support during the same hours, or send an e-mail to tech support at any time. Lexmark's Web site offers a knowledge base of FAQs and how-tos, as well as product manuals and drivers.