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Lexmark X5150 review: Lexmark X5150

Lexmark X5150

Dan Littman
6 min read
The X5150 all-in-one print center is Lexmark's most recent foray into the booming multifunction market (sales have grown 43 percent over those in 2002). And fortunately, this sub-$150 device prints, scans, and copies black-and-white or color documents with speed and quality that are comparable to, if not better than, those of similar units that can cost twice as much, including the Canon MultiPass F60 and the Hewlett-Packard PSC 2210. Like other all-in-ones in its price range, the X5150 has no fax component, but it does ship with software that lets you send documents via fax-modem. Even so, though the X5150 won't do for heavy-duty faxing, it's easy, cheap, and capable enough for many home and small offices. Lexmark says that the X5150's glossy aerodynamic silver-and-black shell is designed for those who want their work area at home to "look as good as their printed output." Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but frankly, we found the design to be a little homely. The good news is that the design is highly functional, and novices will have no trouble figuring out how to add paper or lift the scanner lid. Like most multifunctions, the X5150 isn't small--it sits 18 inches wide and 21 inches deep with the paper trays open--but that's still far less space than a separate printer, scanner, and photocopier would occupy.

Uncomplicated construction.

Clutter-free control panel.

The X5150's straight paper path resembles that of most inkjets. Paper for print and copy jobs drops from a vertical slot at the back of the machine. The paper then passes under the bed of the 600x2,400dpi scanner, through the printer component, which is concealed inside the case, and finally, it exits into a tray at the base. The printer component accommodates various paper sizes, up to legal, but the scanner bed measures only 8.5 by 11.7 inches (big enough for letter or A4 documents).
A control panel to the right of the scanner sports a set of buttons that control tasks with or without your PC. For example, the Fax and Scan To buttons initiate the scanning process and trigger the appropriate included applications on your PC or Mac. The Start Black Copy, Start Color Copy, and Photo buttons, by contrast, replicate ordinary documents or photographs with or without an attached computer. These buttons also let you adjust print or scan settings, such as lightness and contrast, via the machine's LCD. Also, you can enlarge and reduce copies, create a mirror image for printing an iron-on transfer, or even print multiple copies of a photograph on a single sheet of paper.

Little room for cartridge changes.

Room enough to scan books.

We have a couple of minor complaints about the X5150's design. When you need to change the ink cartridge or clear a paper jam, the scanner bed pops up and rests on a brace to expose the printer. However, the resulting four-inch gap makes for pretty tight maneuvering, and because the scanner bed blocks the view from above, you'll have to crouch down to see what you're doing. Worse, the scanner slopes forward slightly so that documents tend to slide on the glass as you lower the lid. The only way to level the unit is to stick an object, such as a thin book, under the printer's front edge. On the bright side, the scanner lid telescopes on long hinges and detaches completely to accommodate thick documents, such as books.

The X5150 is so easy to operate that its rich feature set comes as a pleasant bonus. The control panel's Collate feature, for example, can generate multiple copies of a multipage document while maintaining the correct page order. However, without an automatic document feeder, the X5150 can't count how many pages the document has, which is necessary for collating, so you must enter that information through the control panel. Also, you must place each page on the glass by hand. To be fair, multifunction devices in this price range generally don't come with automatic document feeders (ADFs).

No ADF: must scan papers one by one.
With the "Clear settings after X minutes" command, you can set the X5150 to remember settings, such as paper size, for a certain length of time before reverting to defaults. That way, you can give yourself enough time to complete several similar jobs without receiving a rude surprise the next day. Few products we've seen, including heavy-duty office copier/printer/fax machines, have this feature.
The X5150 ships with several useful software packages, including Lexmark's All-in-One Center program. This onscreen interface helps you manage communications between the X5150 and your PC. Though we found the All-in-One Center's many embedded windows a bit overwhelming, they certainly enhance the X5150's capabilities. For example, if you use the software to run the machine's copy function from your PC, you may open "See more copy settings" in the main window and, from there, open "Display advanced copy settings." In that window's Image Pattern tab, you'll find the Remove Dither command, which strips out any dot pattern while copying. The Image Enhancements tab contains the Sharpen command, sometimes useful with blurry originals. As we said, it's cumbersome but ultimately useful.
The All-in-One Center also controls the scanning process and sends scans to the other bundled software, such as Lexmark's Photo Editor, BVRP's FaxTools, and Abbyy's FineReader 5.0 Sprint OCR package. Photo Editor's basic tools let you adjust and clean up photos by, say, removing red-eye. FaxTools tries to use your fax-modem to make up for the X5150's missing fax capabilities; the clumsy process requires you to select digital files on your hard drive or scan hard copy to your PC, then fax it. One glaring oversight: FaxTools provides very limited cover-sheet capabilities, with only three fixed templates and no way to add more.
By the way, you can plug the X5150 into an Ethernet connection, with a separate $100 N1 adapter. This would allow a workgroup to share the X5150 for printing, though not for scanning.

The X5150 delivered better image quality and speed than its low price would lead you to expect. In its official simple-text tests, CNET Labs clocked the X5150's print speeds at 5.2 pages per minute and a color photo at about half a page per minute; both speeds were about the same as those of most available inexpensive inkjet printers. Among multifunctions, the Hewlett-Packard PSC 2210 ran the same text test in 4.1ppm, and the Canon MultiPass F60 in 6.3ppm--in other words, Lexmark fell precisely in the middle of the range. Also, the Lexmark X5150 scanned a monochrome page in 15.1 seconds and a color page in 16.5 seconds (both documents contained mixed text and graphics).
As for quality, the printer rendered the test text document on plain paper with crisp, if not perfect, curves and shapes. On coated inkjet paper, the text looked darker than it did on plain paper, and it's free of jaggedness. Color graphics on plain paper didn't manage subtle shading and gradations well and showed a dotty texture wherever inks were blended. Still, the colors looked correct and the graphics preserved the detail well. In all, the X5150's output quality didn't fare as well as the Canon MultiPass F60's. Sadly, our high-resolution color-photo test on glossy paper appeared blocky and posterized (displayed fewer colors than the original) in some areas, and it had an overall soft focus.
On a brighter note, the scanner captured color shading and didn't distort the shapes. Even in grayscale, the X5150 managed to preserve sharp detail that rivals that of other midrange standalone scanners; for example, the X5150's grayscale scans looked as good as those of the Epson Perfection 2400.
Multifunction printer text speed  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Pages per minute  
Canon MultiPass F60
Lexmark X5150 all-in-one
HP OfficeJet d145
HP PSC 2210

Lexmark backs the X5150 with strong support. The one-year warranty includes next-business-day exchange, and you get unlimited free (but not toll-free) telephone support from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from noon to 6 p.m. ET on Saturdays. Lexmark doesn't gouge on ink cartridges for the X5150. Based on the company's specification for the cartridges' yield, a page of black text should cost about 5 cents; in CNET's yield tests, the actual figures were 13.3 cents.
The company's Web site provides e-mail access to technicians, along with downloadable drivers and manuals. The X5150 comes with a setup poster and a printed manual, which cover the basics on getting started and running the system; detailed onscreen help files cover the OCR and fax applications. However, a call to Lexmark's tech-support department reached a technician who didn't understand a couple of basic questions and was unable to answer them after we gave him a quick tutorial. He took our telephone number and said he'd research the problems, but he never called back.

Lexmark X5150

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Support 8