Lexmark Z53 Colorjet Printer
Readers of mymac.com ask me quite often which products they should buy. I have been asked that question at least once a week, actually, for the past six years. The most common, besides “Which Mac should I buy?” is “Which printer would be best for me?” A hard question to answer, not knowing what the end user is going to use the printer for. But for the average home or small business user, who is not in need of a Postscript printer, the answer gets easier.
Currently, there are not a lot of choices when it comes to small personal and affordable printers for the Macintosh. The newest printer from Lexmark, the Z53, is a welcome addition to what I hope will be a growing field of affordable yet high-quality printers.
The Z53 is color Ink-Jet printer that uses two print heads, one black, the other color. It handles up to 2400 x 1200 DPI, kicks out 16 pages in black (less than half that in color) and connects via your Macs USB port. The printer is also fully Windows compatible.
Installation was simple, though configuring the printer the first time was a little different than other personal printers I have set up. The install CD installs the print drivers, as well as a print-head calibration control panel and a desktop printer application. The configuring was very strange. You print out a test sheet, and then adjust the control panel according to the printout. While straightforward enough so that even a new computer user will be able to follow along, this is the first sub-$500 printer I have had to do this with. Usually these sorts of print-head adjustments are reserved for large format or dye-sub printers.
I chose not to do the adjustments at first, as I am sure many Mac users will. However, the Z53 kept giving me a “not enough memory” every time I tried to print until I ran the control panel configuration. Once run, the printer performed flawlessly.
Page setup and print options are Spartan in comparison to an Epson printer in the same price range. I much prefer the Epson printer options in page setup.
Actual print quality was great. This is one speedy little printer. A full four-color print job on an 8 1/2 x 11 high-gloss (photo) sheet of paper printed in about half the time my Epson 740i takes for the same graphic. But while the printer was faster than the Epson, comparing the two printouts showed the Epson to have slightly more sharpness. (The graphic was at 600dpi, RGB.)
First time set up of the printer itself was easy. Installation of the print heads (ink) was a breeze. The Z53 comes with a huge instruction layout printout, and was very helpful for first time users. The manual (yes, there is an actual manual!) was also helpful.
The control panel has a very handy feature, in that it provides you with an ink gauge to monitor how full (or empty) your ink cartridge are. Very handy, and I hope more printer manufacturers take note.
Price is an attractive $139.99. You get a lot of print quality for the money. So if you ask me which color printer you should look at, and you’re needs run into the SOHO (small office, home office) category, the Z53 is a good bet. It will be (or may already be by the time this review is published) Mac OS X capable.
MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5