With New A4 Lineup, Lexmark Completes 92-Percent Refresh of Hardware Lineup

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Lexmark International today announced its biggest hardware launch, which along with its April introductions, represents a 92-percent refresh of its printer and copier/MFP product lineup, with new A4 color printers and copier/MFPs, and new A4 large-workgroup monochrome printers and copier/MFPs available in various configurations, along with the new Lexmark Cloud.

On May 23rd, Wirth Consulting met with Lexmark International executives at the company’s offices in the Big Apple to get a first-hand look at the new product line, some of which are for small and mid-size businesses, with others for large workgroups and enterprises, with also a focus on models for distributed, remote enterprise locations.

Chris White, director of global business development, said Lexmark’s key messages for the new product line-up are that they feature simplified management and extend customers’ investments, with longer lifecycles and more. Other enhancements include consistent firmware across the lineup, cloud-based device management, and sturdy steel framing. Lexmark’s tag for the new introductions highlights manageability, ease-of-use, and long life with “Simplify: management; Enable: productivity; Extend: your investment.”

Ron Wells, manager for global product marketing, noted: “This is our largest product launch ever. We’re replacing 90-percent plus of our product line .”

Along with Lexmark’s new models that it announced in April (see Lexmark Focuses on Faster Print and Scan Speeds, Higher Toner Yields, and More with New A4 Models), the new models introduced today complete the 92-percent refresh.

The new models also continue to focus on Lexmark product robustness and security, but among the new enhancements is: easier and minimal supplies replacement with extra-long-life supplies; sturdier construction; and Lexmark Cloud for remote management  and more of Lexmark printers and MFPs.

“Built Like a Frigate but Built to Last”

The new lineup features an industrial design-focus, with Lexmark designing the new lineup “to last forever” – or close to it. One of the key improvement is a change from plastic to steel frames, for both durability and maintaining image quality – as over time, plastic frames can warp, which causes machine jitter, which in turn can negatively affect image quality. The steel framing only adds about 3 lb. of weight versus previous models, however.

Lexmark notes that its printers and MFPs are often deployed in environments where workers may not be careful handling them, such as in warehouses. “The idea is to extend your investment, with printers that stand up to tougher environments,” noted Leigh Anne Belcher, Lexmark manager of global product marketing.

There’s also reinforced plastic and heavy-duty covers so that devices can endure all kinds of abuse – such as a warehouse worker kicking a paper tray shut with a steel-toed boot. And, there’s slam-proof paper trays and rear paper-tray restraints. Covers feature magnets so that they’ll stay on, even when mishandled, and front-door hinges can be replaced.

Less User Intervention, Longer Life

Also designed with an eye for distributed work environments without easily available IT staff support, Lexmark designed the new line to be even easier to use. A big part of that is new, redesigned, very high-capacity supplies, with higher toner yields (up to 50,000 pages); imaging drum now good for up to 50-percent longer; and fusers that now last for 250,000 pages (a 400,000-page yield fuser is also available).

“The goal is for the end-user having to interact with the device as little as possible if at all,” explained Lexmark’s Ron Wells. “For instance, the imaging unit may never have to be accessed at all.” Wells also noted that there’s complete access to the paper path without the user having to come in contact with toner or the imaging unit.

There’s also a straight paper path for easier paper-jam removal and on-screen video animation showing how to perform common service and supplies task. (Lexmark also recently launched a YouTube channel that provides videos showing how to perform common tasks.) Wells also noted that reliability has also been enhanced with better paper-picking, resulting in less paper jams: “There should less than one jam per year.”

Ultimately, notes Wells, these enhancements – from steel frames to less intervention – mean “customers should have the same level of performance after one year, five years, seven years.”

Reducing User Intervention and Making Service Easier

All user-access areas, service parts and supplies can now be accessed from the front or side – so there’s no need to turn the printer around in order to access the back of it (with color units, toner cartridges are located on the side for easy access), and even the main power button is now located prominently on the front of the printer next to the control panel. The multi-purpose media tray is now located on the front of the units for easy access, not in the back.  Service parts are now also available in modules whenever possible in order to make service faster and easier.

FutureProof design: on the software end, the line features the same firmware platform for easy fleet firmware upgradability; on the hardware end, the latest off-the-shelf CPUs are used to ensure that the devices can handle future upgrades, and all solutions-enabled models feature a tablet-like touchscreen (10,” 7″ and 4.3″ versions are available) that share the same user interface across the line.

The lower-end of the new A4 monochrome lineup uses a dual-core processor and 1 GB of standard memory.

MFP versions are built on the same industrial design with steel framing, but add copy and scan with 150-ppm document scanner, and use a Quad Core processor. There are customer-installable document-finishing options, standard hard drive, and standard OCR software. A scaled-down MFP configuartion (the CX625) is designed to bring a departmental MFP’s capabilities to the desktop with Quad Core processor; single-pass duplexing at 100 ipm; 7-second FPOT; and FutureProof platform.

Analytics for MPS

For managed print services (MPS) customers, the new devices can be equipped with sensors that capture highly detailed vital system information, such as engine voltage, fan speeds, and fuser temperature ramps. When any of these metrics fall out of spec it could mean an upcoming failure that needs intervention, or it could simply mean that a setting is wrong. Advance notice helps minimize interventions.

Print with or without Color

For color units, Lexmark has addressed a perennial frustration – users needing to print even though color toners are depleted. With this feature, users can still print in black if color is depleted. The LCD panel or touchscreen will display a message indicating that a color is depleted, and ask the user if they would like to either replace the color or print in black-and-white. Once the user makes a selection, the printer resumes printing where it left off, with no need to have to re-submit the print job.

Mobile Connectivity: New Lexmark Mobile Assistant

Lexmark executives noted that we’re going to continue to see printed pages move from being generated by PCs to being generated by mobile devices, and users continue to demand easy mobile printing. Lexmark currently supports mobile-printing standards such as Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and Mopria. Lexmark’s own mobile-printing solutions include the Lexmark Mobile Print App, Lexmark Print Management, and Lexmark Print Plug.

New from the firm is the Lexmark Mobile Assistant, which is intended for use by small and mid-size businesses, and is now available at the App Store and Google Play. A nice feature is that initial setup can be completed on a mobile device – and doesn’t have to be performed at the printer’s control panel, which can be more difficult.

Lexmark Cloud

Lexmark Cloud, which is hosted by Amazon Cloud, is a new subscription, pay-as-you go service, and is available via direct and indirect channels, and is for Lexmark MFPs with touchscreens. It provides remote device monitoring and management, and apps and connectors delivered via Lexmark Cloud. The new Lexmark Cloud Connector provides print and scan to Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive for Business.  Monitoring is provided for Lexmark devices at present, but Lexmark also plans to expand monitoring to third-party devices.

Advantages of Lexmark Cloud include: dealers don’t have to be onsite to push firmware updates to the fleet, or send out service techs to the customer site to get logs and collect page counts, as such tasks can be performed online via the Lexmark Cloud portal.

Security

Lexmark’s Full Spectrum security suite includes software whitelisting (only approved software can be downloaded to the device); hard-drive encryption; user authentication, confidential (secure) print, etc., with future security updates provided via firmware updates.

Now for some Hardware…

New monochrome printers and MFPs for small and mid-size workgroups and distributed work environments:

MS725dvn Printer: Uses Lexmark’s hot-fuser technology to print on specialty and narrow media, including vinyl; 55-ppm; 2.4″ color display; 300,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle; toner yields up to 55,000 black pages.

(Note that the “v” in this printer’s model name indicates ability to print on specialty media.)

MS821n/dn; MS823n/dn; MS825dn: 55/65/70-ppm with fast First Page Out Time; 2.4″ color display; 350,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle; toner yields up to 55,000 black pages.

MS822de/MS826de: 55/70 ppm; 4.3″ color touchscreen for accessing solutions; 350,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle; toner yields up to 55,000 black pages.

New Monochrome MFPs for large workgroups and departments:

MX725adve: Note that this is Lexmark’s first MFP with the ability to print on specialty media, which is reflected by the “v” in its model name; 55-ppm; 7″ Lexmark eTask touchscreen; 300,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle.

MX721ade/adhe: 65-ppm; 7″ Lexmark eTask touchscreen; 300,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle.

MX722ade/adhe: 70-ppm; 7″ Lexmark eTask touchscreen; 350,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle.

MX820 Series: 55/70-ppm; 10″ Lexmark eTask touchscreen; 350,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle.

New A4 color printers for small and mid-size workgroups:

CS420: 25-ppm; 2.4″ color display; maximum monthly volume of 75,000 pages; toner yields up to 5,000 pages each for cyan, yellow, magenta, yellow (CYM) and up to 8,500 pages for black (K).

CS520:  35-ppm; 2.4″ color display; maximum monthly volume of 85,000 pages; toner yields up to 7,000 pages each for CYM and up to 10,500 pages for K.

CS620: 45-ppm; solutions-enabled and features a 4.3″ touchscreen for accessing some solutions and integration with back-end systems; maximum monthly volume of 100,000 pages; toner yields up to 7,000 pages each for CYM and up to 10,500 pages for K.

New color MFPs for small and mid-size workgroups and departments – they provide “the firepower typically found in enterprises in more compact models for distributed and decentralized work environments” according to Lexmark:

CX420: 25-ppm; 2.4″ color display; maximum monthly volume of 75,000 pages; toner yields up to 5,000 pages each for CYM and 8,500 pages for K; reversing automatic document feeder (RADF). This is basically for customers who require a four-in-one MFP but don’t require Lexmark add-on solutions.

CX520: 35-ppm; 4.5″ color touchscreen for accessing solutions; maximum monthly volume of 85,000 pages;  toner yields up to 5,000 pages each for CYM and 8,500 pages for K; RADF.

CX620: 40-ppm; 4.5″ color touchscreen for accessing solutions; maximum monthly volume of 100,000 pages; toner yields up to 7,000 pages each for CYM and 10,500 for K; duplexing automatic document feeder (DADF).

CX625: 40-ppm; 7″ color touchscreen for accessing solutions; maximum monthly volume of 100,000 pages; toner yields up to 7,000 pages each for CYM and 10,500 for K; DADF; OCR software standard with adhe configuration.

All new introductions are available today throughout North America.

Our Take

Lexmark’s new product refresh addresses not only general office and enterprise use, but a key other segment, decentralized and distributed work environments, which can range from warehouses and construction sites, to hospital stations and bank branch offices. These environments can be tougher work environments versus the average office, and most typically lack readily available IT support. Lexmark has focused on this with key enhancements that will help these products stand out from the competition: more durable construction (for instance, with steel framing); less required user intervention (with higher-yield consumables); and third,  minimizing problems associated with user intervention. The last we think will be an especially important advantage. When we “took a look under the hood” last month at the new devices, we were impressed with how commonly used access areas don’t force users to come into contact with things they need to stay away from, such as imaging and fusing units, and these commonly used access areas are all accessible from the front (no pulling out printers from the wall to access the back).  These three strategies will be especially appealing not only to general offices, but to distributed work environments where IT support isn’t strong and service and problems in general must be kept to the bare minimum.

For more information and complete specifications, visit Lexmark here.

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