Lexmark's X83 All-In-One should really be called the Most-In-One; it's a color inkjet-based multifunction that combines a flatbed scanner, a printer, and a photocopier in one box. However, it doesn't have its own fax capabilities, working instead with your PC's modem to complete this task. Still, it seems like a bargain; for $199, you're getting a device that cranks out good-looking text and graphics on plain or coated papers, all at a relatively fast clip. For the truly budget-conscious, however, its high ink costs will eventually outweigh its initial low price. Lexmark's X83 All-In-One should really be called the Most-In-One; it's a color inkjet-based multifunction that combines a flatbed scanner, a printer, and a photocopier in one box. However, it doesn't have its own fax capabilities, working instead with your PC's modem to complete this task. Still, it seems like a bargain; for $199, you're getting a device that cranks out good-looking text and graphics on plain or coated papers, all at a relatively fast clip. For the truly budget-conscious, however, its high ink costs will eventually outweigh its initial low price.
X marks the spot
Using the well-detailed, illustrated Getting Started guide, setting up the X83 is straightforward. The device connects solely via USB, though it ships without the cable. The included CD contains drivers for Windows 98 and above but offers no Windows 95 support. You can download drivers for Mac OS 8.6 and above from the Lexmark Web site. In addition to the driver CD, a second disc features MGI's PhotoSuite, a basic photo-editing application, and Black Ice's Impact ColorFax Lite software. The boxy-looking (due to its flatbed scanner) multifunction measures 18.1 inches wide by 21.2 inches deep by 12.4 inches high with its paper trays fully extended. The top-loading input tray can take 100 sheets of plain paper or 10 envelopes, among other media types; the output tray extends out of the front of the device.
Using the multifunction is easy and intuitive. The printer works like a printer; put the paper in the top, click Print, then pick up pages from the output tray when it's done. To copy or scan an image, you slip a document onto the photocopier-style scanning window and press one of the buttons on the X83's well-laid-out console. To lighten/darken, enlarge, or choose the number of copies, use the respective function buttons. Furthermore, there are two copy buttons: one for color and one for monochrome prints. A copy-quality button cycles through three options--Photo, Normal, and Quick--and there's a menu button for more complicated functions such as Clone (for filling the page with multiple copies of a smaller image) and Poster (for blowing up the image across multiple pages).
Printing with aplomb
The crux of any multifunction device, of course, is its printing, and the X83 did generally well in CNET Labs' tests. It printed text at 4.2 pages per minute (ppm)--faster than the Xerox WorkCentre M940 and the HP PSC 750 by .5ppm. However, pages with mixed color text and graphics came slower than those of the X83's competitors, at a little less than .75ppm. Next to the PSC 750's score of 1ppm, this looks a little disappointing. When it came to quality tests, however, the X83 never missed a beat. On coated paper, text and graphics looked excellent, with accurate color matching and sharp detail. On plain paper, text looked good, but quality dipped slightly.
Smooth scanning ahead
Lexmark's scanning application is top-notch stuff, too. Visible as a little icon in the system tray, it took up only about half a megabyte of RAM and didn't cause any grief in day-to-day operation on our test systems. The program allows you to scan directly to a file, to e-mail, to an application, and to any fax software you might have. Despite the X83's lack of fax hardware, it smoothly acts as a front end for PC-based faxing. MGI PhotoSuite 8.1 and OCR software from ABBYY round out the software bundle. These are both capable programs, though we found ABBYY's FineReader OCR had difficulty properly formatting tables from some documents.
But most scanning operations can be executed from the hardware itself. The X83's console has Scan and Scan To, a couple of buttons for scanning to the computer. The Scan button puts the X83 on standby until you fire up the Lexmark control software, while Scan To lets you control the operation from the hardware. You select the operation (scan to e-mail, fax, an application, or a file) from the LCD menu and press Scan; the process begins automatically.
We found color scans to be acceptable, though color matching was off, and reds looked muddied. Our grayscale scan also looked fair and lacked sharp focus and detail. The scanner has an optical resolution of 600 dots per inch (dpi), though we tested it at 150dpi; it captures color at 48 bits.
A capable copier
Acting as a standalone copier, the X83 does a pretty good job. It cranked out text-and-graphics copies at the rate of about 2ppm in our tests and 4ppm for plain text. If the copier is in power-saver mode, it takes about 30 seconds to wake up, which is a drag, but the LCD displays a countdown to keep you informed. We'd call the quality of the copies good overall rather than excellent because of a slight dip in the sharpness of text reproduction on plain paper--but it's better than that of many other inkjet multifunctions we've tested.
Are you being cheated?
For all the X83's good qualities, the high price of ink replacement will make it less of a bargain than it looks like at the store. If you buy ink cartridges at retail prices, you'll be paying about twice the cost per page than you would with some of HP's OfficeJet and Xerox's WorkCentre multifunction lines. Our sample pages cost 11 cents per page of text and a whopping 73 cents per color page.
At least Lexmark isn't skimping on support. There's a one-year warranty with (here's a big plus) a toll-free technical-support line that's open 12 hours on weekdays (9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET) and noon till 6 p.m. on Saturdays. The Lexmark Web site also offers driver downloads, FAQs, user guides, an interactive knowledge base, and e-mail support.
Lexmark's X83 multifunction offers good multifunction capabilities in an inexpensive, easy-to-use package. But for the long term, the device's high ink replacement costs could offset the initial savings.
Multifunction printer speed
Pages per minute (longer bars indicate better performance)
Multifunction laser printer quality
|The Lexmark X83 more than held its own against the competition, delivering the fastest text output of the three multifunctions we compared. On quality tests, it was nearly perfect, except for a slight hiccup on plain-paper text.|