Lexmark Shows True (Budget) Colors

SAN FRANCISCO (05/24/2000) - Lexmark International Inc. has upped the ante on color laser printers with a new release.

The Optra C710 offers high resolution at a low price, and offers options--both basic and exotic--to extend its usefulness. The unit supports 1200-by-1200 dots-per-inch printing and costs $1929 direct from Lexmark (or $2199 as the C710n with a network interface). The model will also be sold through other suppliers, which Lexmark expects will charge slightly less.

In the basic options category is a 250-sheet paper tray; you can add two at $225 each, bringing the printer's total capacity to 800 sheets. A duplexer (a device that enables you to print on both sides of the page) costs $656.

As for the more unusual options, Lexmark is developing an OptraImage for the C710, a scanner module that converts the system into a color copier and fax machine. That component is not yet available and pricing has not been set. The C710 also works with Lexmark's suite of forms-design and forms-printing software, which range in price from about $450 to about $800, depending on whether the program comes on a chip or a hard drive.

The Optra C710 can hold a confidential print job until the sender comes to the printer and enters a password. It also can print envelopes in color, and handles legal-size color documents (many older color lasers can print only black on legal-size paper).

Lexmark rates the Optra C710 at 16 pages per minute on black-and-white documents and 3 ppm on color. PC World has not yet tested the C710, but based on tests of other color laser models, the C710's real-world performance is likely to be about half the rated speed on black and white and about one-third on color.

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