Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 Boasts a Touchscreen and Supercheap Black Ink
At a Glance
Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901
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You pay more for the machine but less for its ink, which is a reasonable trade-off--especially considering the plentiful features that accompany this MFP.
The Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 color inkjet multifunction printer (which handles printing, scanning, copying, and faxing) is priced on the high side ($300 as of June 4, 2010), but it's packed with features that would satisfy a busy home or small office. Lexmark sweetens the deal with supercheap black ink and a five-year warranty.
Admirably, Lexmark has customized the setup routine by skill level. If you want hand-holding, you can click through a long parade of dialog boxes that explain every minute detail, from plugging in the AC cord to inserting the cartridges. If you don't want the walkthrough, you can skip it. Wireless is a breeze, too: The onboard routine searches for and lets you join any available network in just a few steps. USB and ethernet connections are also available.
The Pinnacle Pro901's standout feature is its 4.3-inch touchscreen control panel, which gives the machine a cleaner look than a raft of buttons would. Even better, the menu structure is intuitive, easy to navigate, and well thought out. Other features include a roomy, 50-page automatic document feeder atop the unit's letter-size flatbed scanner, and automatic duplexing (two-sided printing). The under-mounted, 150-sheet front paper tray provides adequate capacity, though it feels flimsy when you remove or insert it. An optional second 150-sheet additional tray costs $100 from Lexmark. Media slots accommodate SD, xD, MS/MMC, and USB/PictBridge media. Lexmark's bundled software is great for controlling the scanner and the printer, though it lacks some editing and creative amenities that more-consumer-oriented models offer.
Small and home offices print a lot of plain text, which is where the Pinnacle Pro901 shines. Its speed is nothing special: 6.3 pages per minute on the PC, and 3.9 ppm on the Mac--but text quality was unbelievably black and crisp. What's more, this model and its other high-priced cousins (the Lexmark Platinum Pro905 and the Lexmark Prestige Pro805) can use the 105XL high-yield black cartridge, which costs just $5 and lasts for 510 pages, which works out to a scant penny per page. It's enough to make a monochrome laser printer nervous. Avoid the 100XL high-yield black, which also fits this MFP but is extremely expensive--as are the standard-size 100 cartridges.
Color quality and pricing are less impressive. On the PC, 4-by-6-inch photos printed at 1.8 ppm. On the Mac, a 7.5-by-9.9-inch, high-resolution photo took about 85 seconds to print; a 600-dpi scan of the same photo took just over a minute, while a 1200-dpi scan of a 4-by-6-inch photo took about 75 seconds. Color images had a fine-grained look--slightly foggy, but even. While fleshtones tended toward yellow and colors tended toward pink, they were believable. Color scans tended to be dark, but only color copies truly disappointed us, with distracting crosshatch patterns. The 600-page 100XL C, M, Y cartridges cost a middling $18 apiece (or 3 cents per color per page). Lexmark's standard-size color inks are incredibly overpriced and best avoided.
Lexmark's Pinnacle Pro901 is a worthy contender for your small-office bucks. Though we consider the Canon Pixma MX870 a better overall package for a lower price, the Pinnacle Pro901 supplies the cheapest black ink and the longest warranty.