TECH TALK BY MIKE BERMAN: INKJET PRINTER STANDS OUT FROM THE REST OF THE CROWD

TECH TALK BY MIKE BERMAN: INKJET PRINTER STANDS OUT FROM THE REST OF THE CROWD

I've been playing with Lexmark's new Z52 Color JetPrinter ($179) and have discovered that all is not equal in the land of ink jets. First, the good news. This is one of the fastest, low-priced injets I've used. It was able to print at speed of 15 pages per minute for black and white and seven pages per minute for color. Even in the photo mode, which is always slower, I was still able to maintain about an output of three or four pages per minute. Also, the resolution of my printouts was a lot better than with the others. Lexmark printers have always exceeded the norm when it came to resolution, being the first to produce injets that could reproduce documents at 1,400 by 1,400 dots per square inch. The Z52 has increased this to 2,400 by 1,200, and, with a bit of manipulation using the enclosed software packe, you can boost that to 4,800 by 4,800 dpi. The printer can be connected to your PC (or Mac) using USB or parallel cable, which means it will connect to virtually any computer. The universal serial bus connection is a bit faster, but it is also less reliable than parallel. Sometimes the printer would work flawlessly using USB and, at other times, I would be told that the printer was not connected or was off line. This didn't happen when I was using a parallel cable. Other than that, it was very easy to set up. All I had to do was connect it to my computer, boot up windows and install the proper drivers, which only took a few minutes. On the down side is its use of only two ink cartridges, one for black and another that is tri-color (cyan, magenta and yellow). The problem with this is that you may run out of one color before depleting the others, forcing you to replace the color cartridge before it was completely empty. A lot of the newer printers (most notably from Canon) have separate cartridges for each color, eliminating this problem. There's also a tri-color photo cartridge that has black, photo cyan and and photo magenta. But, to its credit, the ink cartridges include printheads, so you don't have to worry about cleaning or worry about getting poor print-outs. Use of the tri-color cartridges can make it a bit more expensive to operate than most (17 cents per page compared with seven cents per page for a comparable Epson Stylus Color 980, according to PC Magazine). Other features of the Z52 include: * An Accu-Feed paper handling system that virtually eliminates paper jams. * One-click driver installation and open-and-load cartridge installation. * On-screen diagnostics that inform you of printing problems. * It's input tray can hold 100 sheets of standard paper, 25 transparencies or 10 envelopes. * It's quieter than most injets. * You can produce posters, booklets, half-tones and collate your pages. What PC-related subjects would you like to see covered in this column? Need help deciding what software to use? Hardware? Contact Mike Berman at mberman@ joc.com., mberman@bigfoot.com, or call him at (212) 837-7140.