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The Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 has gotten quite a bit of press given that it can use black ink cartridges that cost $5. Clearly, that distinction is unique among inkjet printers, most of which are sold at or near a loss so that the manufacturer can recoup expenses on the sale of (extremely) high-margin replacement cartridges. So, does that feature make this printer worth the purchase? Perhaps...but perhaps not.
Sure, the black cartridge retails for $5, but the three color cartridges will set you back more than $50. Thus, your savings (and cost per copy) will very much depend on your usage. If you are careful to print and copy in black and white, then this printer will likely prove to be quite inexpensive for you approximately 1 cent per page given that the black cartridge is rated for 500 average pages of text. On the other hand, if you print a mix of materials, your cost per page could actually be more than competing inkjets. HP has a white paper on their website that claims that their cost per page is actually *lower* than Lexmark's for *color* content. Amazon is not a fan of links in reviews, but fire up Google and search for "HP Officejet / Officejet Pro vs. Lexmark Cost-Per-Page Comparison" if you are interested.
Oh well, no argument, $5 is a good deal for black and white output. So good, in fact, that the cashier at Office Depot did a double take when he rang up three of them for me, asking, "is this really the correct price?" Thus, if you limit your color printing/copying, the Pro901 (and related models, e.g., 905) really *can* represent quite a savings in comparison with competing models. If instead, you print significant amounts of color content, I would call it a wash.
> So, how is it as a printer?
In a word, decent. Text is dark and clear, unlike many competing models. Photographs also seem fairly decent...especially on photo paper. My in-store tests showed that it fared very well in comparison to the lauded Epson Artisan 810 on plain paper. That said, most reviewers claim that the Artisan is superior on photo paper, which one would expect given that the Artisan uses a 6-color cartridge system. Regardless, photographs looked good enough to my eye...and the Pro901's text quality is far better than the Artisan's in my opinion. Obsessable[dot]com has a detailed review that focuses on print quality if that issue is your primary concern.
The printer also has a removable tray that holds either 150 sheets of paper (up to legal size) or photo paper...but not both simultaneously (as does the Epson Artisan line). You can add a second tray to the Pro901, thereby upgrading your 901 to a 905, but that option is fairly pricey (at the moment).
The output tray is really just an extendable plastic arm, but it is fairly rigid...and seems about ten times more rugged than the flip-out equivalent on the Artisan 810.
> How about scanning and copying?
Scanning quality looks good. To scan, you can place the document directly on the glass or use the document feeder. Many have reported problems using the feeder, but it worked quite well for me. That said, the controls are where this unit really shines for scanning and copying...but more on that topic later.
> What about faxing?
Well, the fax uses the aforementioned printer and scanner for the fax operation, so the physical aspects of faxing are also decent, as one would infer from the discussion of those features. Once again, where faxing really shines, however, relates to the controls...which brings us to...
> How are the controls?
Well, the controls on the device can be summed up in one word -fantastic.
The device has a 4.3" full color touch screen that is really striking. Of course, a decent screen without a decent UI is a waste...and Lexmark did not waste the screen. The UI consists of beautifully rendered 3D controls that are laid out intuitively. The user interface strives to keep each screen simple and clear in purpose, yet also provides easy access to more advance features that are relevant to the current operation at a touch. In general, they allow quick access to all device features and do so in a manner that does not require a Computer Science degree to access all of the useful settings. The beauty and intuitiveness of the display and the controls must be seen and used to be appreciated fully, but perhaps it suffices to say that even the most non-technical user in my house is able to perform advanced operations with this device. I wasn't particularly looking for a touch screen, but there is no turning back after using this one.
With regards to specifics, the controls allow you to perform simple copying and faxing functions as you would expect, but also allow you to initiate document scans that are sent directly to any computer on your network (provided it has the driver software installed) or to a recipient via email. Specifying recipients for either the fax or email can be either by direct entry or by using the device's embedded address book. Of course, specifying other options during these operations (quality, size, color/b&w, ...) is also extremely straightforward.
The device also includes one other unique control feature downloadable applications. While some of these downloadable applications are fairly limited in value (e.g., a calculator, RSS news feed display), others may be incredibly useful to users who have repeating scanning, copying, or faxing tasks.
Lexmark coined the term SmartSolutions for the downloadable applications. Several come preinstalled while others can be downloaded from the Lexmark website. The website uses a browser-based Java applet to review, configure, and install each application directly to your Pro901 from their website, eliminating the need for you to perform an additional installation after downloading.
So what do they do? Well, what do you want them to do? You can configure a SmartSolution for almost any type of repeating task scanning, copying, faxing. Yes, this explanation is somewhat obtuse, so perhaps an example will help.
Assume that you must scan a timesheet each week and mail it to one individual (Fred) as a PDF...with a specific subject and message. You can certainly use the device's standard "scan" control to perform this task, but you would need to tap quite a few buttons to make it happen first scan, then specify scan to email, then specify options (like document type, color/b&w, email address, etc.). Alternatively, for such a repeating task, you can pre-configure a SmartSolution task to perform all of these steps in one button push...and name it "Email timesheet to Fred". In the future, you could then drop your timesheet on the document feeder, click the Smart Solutions button, and then click the "Email timesheet to Fred" button.
You can do the same for scanning documents to your computer. Assume that you scan a credit card statement each month, place it in a PDF, name the PDF with the card/bank name and the date, and place the PDF in a specific credit card statement folder on one of the computers on your network. You guessed it one button click....assuming that you configured a Smart Solution for this task.
There are many other Smart Solutions, including one to upload scanned files directly to Evernote and another to print your calendar directly from Google...and Lexmark has been creating new applications fairly regularly during the two months that I have owned the device. Thus, a description of them all is not practical, but suffice to say that there is probably at least one that you will find useful. Of course, you can also ignore them and life would be fine...and you would still have access to the full range of features on this device...albeit with a couple more button pushes.
The controls also extend to computers configured with the Lexmark driver software. Normally, I am not a fan of heavyweight printer software on my computers, but the installed Lexmark software does allow access to useful features on the device....which brings us to...
> How easy is it to install and configure?
Not bad. The Pro901 supports direct connection to a PC (or Mac) via a USB cable or by using a network-based connection via wireless or Ethernet cable. I installed mine as a network-based printer by connecting it to my home's Gigabit Ethernet backbone (no slow wireless for me :), so plug-and-play detection was not an option. Instead, I installed the driver software on several PCs in my home using the included CD. The first installation included PC-based setup of the device as well, while the installer allowed me to bypass such configuration for subsequent PCs. All-in-all, quite painless...but also not plug-and-play. Of course, that's what you get with a network-based configuration.
> So why not 5 stars?
Because the fax's caller ID is maddening. Seriously.
Even if you configure the fax to not auto-answer, the device's control screen will still display caller ID for each incoming call. Hey, that doesn't sound bad, does it? It is...because each time that the device needs to display this caller ID, it must wake from its sleep state, which also cycles the print head back and forth. Sure, not a problem if the device is awake, but it is an energy star device so it must sleep eventually. You can configure the time before the device sleeps, but regardless, sooner or later you will be sitting next to it when the phone rings and the device is asleep...and you will then need to answer the phone with the device noisily warming up in the background. Amusingly enough, the default sleep time for their single-click energy saver option is ten minutes.
Don't think that this issue is annoying? Try it out and then get back to me. The issue bothered my wife and me enough that I finally contacted Lexmark and exchanged several email messages with their tech support. Their best advice? Disconnect the phone line when not in use. Yes, seriously.
Don't get me wrong, their tech support was extremely responsive...and each message that I received from them was thoughtful, well-written, and empathetic. In fact, the tech even contacted their firmware support group to see if there was any way that they could disable caller ID when fax auto-answer is disabled...and believe it or not, the answer was no. Yes, absolutely fantastic customer service...and a ridiculous implementation. Thus, the phone line remains unplugged...lest my wife defenestrate the thing while working in our home office.
> So should you buy it?
If you print a lot of b&w content, then heck yes. If you print mostly photographs, perhaps you may be better served with something in Epson's Artisan line. That said, the photos that I have printed look great.
In general, I think that it's a great general purpose device for home and SOHO use...and the 5 year warranty makes a good deal a great deal. If you do buy it, however, just make sure that you either leave the phone line unplugged or place your new Pro901 in an unoccupied room. ;)
1. Black ink cartridges are 5$ a piece. You can print 500 pages for 5$. That is an incredible bargain.
2. Unlike other printers it carries a five year warranty.
3. It has fantastic power saver features.
As I started using the device to scan, make copies, fax over the next few days it all just worked. Queitly and without problems it perfectly made color copies that were barely distinguishable from the source. The fax software installed on desktop without a hitch and was able to send a fax with no difficulty. It was quick easy to set up works wirelessly.
I use to probably as you do looked down on the lexmark brand. In fact to this point I have only used Canon and HP. But this printer has changed my mind. I can't believe that they don't get better press for what I know consider leading the industry in stopping the overcharging of ink to consumers and making a printer that will last by standing by the product with a five year warranty. if you are thinking about the canon pixma over this. I would consider this option of the lexmark carefully.
Best Deals for Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 All-in-One PrinterWhen operated with a new printhead, the printer prints beautifully and performs its functions as advertised. However, before the first cartridges were fully used (within the first 2-3 months of purchase) two of the color inks clogged the printhead. No amount of running deep cleaning utilities would clear the clogs. The optional light swab as described in help also did not clear the clogs, and the printhead was functionally unusable. This is where the fun starts. In November, 2010,Lexmark made available its 100 series printhead (part # 14N1339) for purchase at its web site, along with ink, as a supply. I was warned of a back-order and I patiently waited a month without complaint for a new printhead. It arrived, I installed the new printhead and for the moment it is working beautifully again. Expecting a recurring problem, I tried to order a back-up for inventory. The web-site now instructs that an 800 number must be called. After waiting my turn, I was told that Lexmark will NOT accept ANY orders to purchase that replacement printhead. I was not given any explanation, nor any hope that the printhead will ever be available for purchase again. My statement that I was perfectly willing to wait months did not sway Lexmark. I was told to search for vendors who might have one left in stock. I wasted my time, and found none. Other than the 901 and 905, I do not know whether the same printhead is used in other inkjet printers. It is simply astonishing that Lexmark is continuing to sell printer models, with the knowledge that a printhead is likely to fail but no replacements will be sold. Even if I was given some explanation of a change in manufacturing sources, it would be somewhat understandable, but Lexmark has offered no explanation. Elsewhere in these comments, a Lexmark employee suggested that the commenter contact him. I tried the same address and received no response. I regret that I did not ship this printer back to Lexmark when the first printhead failed. Lexmark has not only created questions of credibility and reliability, but more serious questions about its liability for continuing to sell a product for which it refuses to supply replacement parts. There are serious questions about the representations of Lexmark concerning the fitness of this product for its expected and intended use. My recommendation is that no one buy any Lexmark printers using the printhead series 100 part 14N1339 until Lexmark explains its refusal to sell replacement printheads, and its proposed remedies.
Honest reviews on Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 All-in-One PrinterCustomer review from the Amazon Vine Program This is a very nice business focused printer.
As soon as you open the box, you realize you are opening a business oriented multi function print device. No questions about it and it is a nice feeling to open it.
In the box you receive:
3 print cartridges (all required for printing)
Quick setup, network setup, Quick Reference Guide, Fax Setup and warranty information
Cloth (to clean finger prints off the touch screen I suppose)
My first impression looking through the documentation is that it doesn't seem as though any of the documentation tells you how to remove the printer from the box. Yes, it's a pretty simple process and takes little to no effort, but usually they try and make these things as simple as possible for everyone who uses computers (beginners to pros). Strange.
As I wasn't sure if the unboxing procedure was included on the installation CD or not, my first step was to take the CD out and drop it in the CD tray and installed the software. Nope. Doesn't tell you how to unbox the printer. Yes, again, unboxing the printer is a simple, simple process, yet it isn't documented in an easy to see format. That's a single complaint so far.
The software, while it doesn't tell you how to remove the printer from the box, DOES walk you through pulling all the pieces of tape off of the printer and installing the cartridges. It does this with a series of videos (both on the printer and on the computer for print head and cartridge installation, which is fantastic). It's very, very easy to set it up to print. This is just preparing the printer, not installation on the computer and usage which I will get to in a few lines. This is followed by the printing of an alignment page which it uses to automatically calibrate the print heads and cartridges. This alignment process did take a good 2-3 minutes though.
The printer, the first time you power it on, can also provide you a video tutorial on using the printer. These short clips are useful for getting to the know the printer. This is a very nice addition and appreciated.
To connect this printer to my computer, I used straight USB (easy, simple setup but required the printer be in the same room as the computer I was using, which isn't always something I do) and using Wi-Fi. USB connection essentially just required me to plug the cable in properly. Can't get much simpler than that.
Wi-Fi setup also required you to use the supplied USB cable for initial setup. Once connected you can tell the printer to scan for wireless networks. As long as your network appears, it's fairly straight forward to set this up. I am using WPA security on my Wi-Fi network and it was astoundingly simple to type my security pass phrase and let the printer complete the setup. Again, simple, straight forward and easy. Everything in life should be this easy.
I tried each feature one by one (sorry, don't have a phone that will allow fax capability; those looking to use this functionality, I am positive, given how easy the rest of the setup went, that this would be easy to setup but can't say for sure).
First I tried printing. I opened a web page, pressed Ctrl-P (for print), chose the Lexmark and let it go to work. The page was mostly text with some color and it printed as quickly as I had expected. Printing a 4 page Word document, with color text and double sidede which the printer can handle automatically (you don't have to flip the paper manually) took about 45-50 seconds using the wireless connection. USB was about 15-20 seconds faster on the same document.
Scanning over the network from the printer is easy as well. Put the document or picture you want to scan on the scanner, press the scanner icon on the printer's touch screen. Pleasant additions include menu options on the printer to scan to the computer, a memory card you install on the printer or scan directly to email. The last option requires you to walk through another mostly easy setup, as long as you know your email address and account password. This would allow you to scan a document without needing a computer on if all you wanted to do was email the image to say, a business partner who is traveling. You can also scan to your computer and have it opened automatically in email if you don't want to let the printer email the document to someone without needing the computer turned on. Scan speed was OK, but not blisteringly fast. Quality using the automatic quality setting came out crisp, clear and legible for a text document; the picture I scanned came out clear. No complaints here.
Copying is about as simple as you'd expect as well. Put the document or picture you want to copy on the glass of the printer and close the lid. Press the Copy icon, choose color or just B&W, press the green button that appears on the right side of the display and BAM! Your document is copied. I first copied the text document I printer. The text wasn't as crisp as the original, but with a copier of any type this is expected and it was well within tolerance levels of anyone I showed it to. The picture I copied came out again not as clear as the original, but still in a very nice quality. If I used high quality paper you may not even be able to tell the difference between this and the original.
One nice, very nice, addition to this package is the inclusion of the Abbyy OCR software. For those that aren't aware, you can use this to read text from an image. For an example, say you have a printed document but want a version you can edit on your computer in Word. Normally you would scan the document and be stuck with what is simply an image; not editable in any usable way. With this software it can process an image and turn the text into a document. It works reasonable well and easily, which is awesome.
Using the memory card options on the side of the printer, you can print photos directly. The only problem here is that if you are trying to print to custom size paper it isn't as easy as one might like. The only way I've found to do it is to pull out the paper tray, pull out all the paper and resize the paper tray for the photo paper (assuming you're printing to something other than standard letter paper). There isn't a manual paper feed tray to just drop a single piece of photo paper into. Of course, if you're looking for a photo printer, and not a printer for a small business though, then this printer probably isn't for you as you might be quickly annoyed by having to load and reload the paper tray every time you want to print a photo and then print a document.
Speaking of photo printing, comparing this printer to the Canon Pixma MP990 I also have, the photos looked good, but the Canon prints, on the same photo paper, look clearer, better defined and have better color representation. Of course, if you have nothing else to compare the photos from this printer from, they look darn good without question!
Over all this is a very nice device. All of the features work as advertised and work well. Plus, if all you're doing is printing black and white documents, and assuming the 510 pages per black print cartridge (that costs only ~$5) is to be believed as it states on the box, B&W documents would literally cost less than a penny to print. You can't really beat this even with a laser printer really.
The 5 stars are given for those looking for a business printer. If you're looking for a photo printer and want to use the standard functions here, you're better off with a photo focused multi function printer and for that type of user, I'd give this printer 3 stars.
I will keep my Canon Pixima MP990 for photo printing, but I'm using this printer for everything else!
Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 All-in-One PrinterIt worked easily out of the box and I've been printing wirelessly and double-sided since. Compared to my last printer: HP C7280 Photosmart All-in-One Printer (wireless and doublesided) which cost twice as much, this Lexmark is a dream. No jamming issues, software is easier to use, able to conserve more color ink than I could conserve with the HP. I'm so pleased.
The installation disc (which I installed on a PC and Mac) was odd OR user error. But this was a minor glitch because the paperwork that accompanied the disc and printer had a business card with the support number printed front & center. No hunting for that support number in the fine print or online so I called and got help in a reasonable amount of time.