Are Lexmark B&W MPFs Playing with Home Field Advantage?

Just yesterday, Wirth Consulting completed out latest Head2Head Comparison Report on B&W MFPs in the range of $2,000 to $3,000.  Four of the seven models are marketed by Lexmark International, Inc.

B&W Lexmark MFPs in the range of $2,000 to $3,000

            X644eMFP

        X646E MFP

            X656DP MFP             X656DE MFP
X644e X646e X654 X656de mfp
  • $2,499
  • Copy/Print/Scan/Fax
  • 50 PPM
  • Color touch screen
  • Duplex print and scan
  • MarkVision compatible
  • $2,999
  • Copy/Print/Scan/Fax
  • 50 PPM
  • Embedded Solutions Framework
  • Duplex print and scan
  • Color touch screen
  • Standard Hard Drive
  • MarkVision compatible
  • $2,499
  • Copy/Print/Scan/Fax
  • 55 PPM
  • Embedded Solutions Framework
  • Duplex print and scan
  • Color touch screen
  • MarkVision compatible
  • $2,749
  • Copy/Print/Scan/Fax
  • 55 PPM
  • Embedded Solutions Framework
  • Duplex print and scan
  • Color touch screen
  • Standard Hard Drive
  • MarkVision compatible

Who is Lexmark?

In March of 1991, IBM divested a number of its hardware manufacturing operations to the investment firm Clayton & Dubilier, Inc. in a leveraged buyout to form Lexmark International, Inc.  Lexmark became a publicly traded company in 1995.

The firm’s corporate and R&D offices are located at their headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, in the United States.  Lexmark has offices throughout North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe.  The company has more than 13,000 employees worldwide.  Lexmark is a Fortune 500 company and reported over $5 billion in revenues in 2007.  In addition to manufacturing hardware under their own name, Lexmark is also involved with third-party development of printers for other major companies, such as Dell.

Who needs a B&W only device at this price?
Virtually every office and workgroup.  Black-and-white printing and copying is the predominant application in today’s office and will continue to be in spite of continued efforts by printer manufacturers to reduce the cost of printing in color.  However, the cost of printing in color will always be 3-4 times that of black-and-white due to the additional costs of the required cyan, magenta and yellow ink/toner units.

What if I need to print in color?
In our opinion, companies only need to print color documents that are ultimately intended for distribution outside of their organization and for the proofing of said documents.  Keep in mind that color printing is easily abused and expensive from the get-go, so you may want to reconsider your ideas about the need for color printing in your office.

We recommend that you consider a business ink-jet printer for these applications.  In general, business ink-jet printers are less expensive to operate, print on larger media sizes, are equipped with network interfaces, and feature better manageability over the network than run-of-the-mill consumer ink-jet printers.  While selecting the best business ink-jet printer may be difficult, stay-tuned to this blog space for a guide on how to choose the best business ink-jet printer.

What is Embedded Solutions Framework?
Lexmark’s Embedded Solutions Framework enables Java-based applications to run directly on Lexmark MFPs.  Solutions that run on the Embedded Solutions Framework are scalable and can be expanded even to multiple locations with minimal additional cost.  Lexmark’s Software Developers Kit (SDK) for its Embedded Solutions Framework allows technology partners to develop integrated solutions for Lexmark MFPs that allow them to deliver integrated solutions to their customers faster in order to improve business processes and reduce costs.

In layman’s terms, this capability allows users to create custom applications that can be initiated directly from the touch screen for such advanced applications as forms-processing or document management.

What is MarkVision Professional?
MarkVision is a management utility that can provide advanced monitoring and control of networked printing devices.  MarkVision allows network administrators to actively manage most network-printing devices from a Web browser via a server-based application.   MarkVision always “listens” to all  printing devices on the network and can notify selected users of any possible issues.   MarkVision’s alert-based monitoring provides real-time status for all Lexmark networked workgroup-printing devices using less bandwidth than other management systems that employ a polling-based system.  SNMP device support extends MarkVision’s capabilities so that it can gather status from every networked workgroup-printing device at any time.   MarkVision can also proactively order a spare toner cartridge for printers that are nearly out of toner, thus reducing downtime due to an out-of-toner situation.

What about security?
All network devices should be protected against attack and misuse, and configured to support your network-security policies.  Lexmark’s  MFPs and printers support best industry practices for network device protection.  Lexmark devices can be managed via MarkVision or the printer home page to  configure an array of industry-standard security functions.  Security features include:

  • Confidential Print – Hold print jobs until the intended recipient enters an appropriate personal identification number (PIN) that allows the job to be printed.
  • Operator Panel Lock – Lock a printer or MFP operator panel, requiring a PIN to unlock it.
  • TCP Connection Filtering – Printers and MFPs can be configured to allow TCP/IP connections from only a specified list of TCP/IP addresses.
  • Hard Disk Encryption – An MFP’s hard disk can be configured using a 128-bit AES key that encrypts all data on the drive.
  • MFP Lockout – MFPs can be locked so that the touch screen is disabled and all incoming print and fax jobs are stored securely on the hard drive until the MFP is unlocked by entering the appropriate PIN.
  • SNMPv3 – Lexmark MFPs support SNMPv3, including authentication and data encryption, to allow secure remote management of the devices.
  • PSec – All network traffic to and from printers and MFPs is encrypted and authenticated.
  • Secure User Authentication – MFP functions can be restricted so that users must authenticate prior to performing copy, scan-to-e-mail, scan-to-fax, scan-to-network, workflow scripts or embedded applications.
  • Secure LDAP over SSL – Information exchanged via LDAP, including user credentials, names, e-mail addresses and fax numbers, is encrypted to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of data.

Are Lexmark MFPs easy to use?
You betcha!  As a spin-off from IBM’s fabled business-machine division, Lexmark had a wealth of human design data from the get-go.  This means that all user chores (controls, adding supplies, maintenance)  are particularly easy for end-users, particularly U.S. users.

What about the operating costs?
Lexmark sells several types of cartridges for its toner-based printers—standard, high-yield and returnable high-yield cartridges.  We believe that most businesses will want the lowest operating costs for their printing products, so we only report on the highest yield products in our Wirth Consulting What You Should Know and Head2Head comparison reports.  We are pleased to report that the Lexmark products featured in our Winter 2008 Head2Head Comparison on B&W $2,000-$3,000 MFPs, the Lexmark X644e and X646e had the lowest supply cost per page of $0.0117 or 1.2 cents per page.Overall 12_22_08

How did Wirth Consulting choose a winner?
Due to the low cost of supplies and a rich feature set, all four of the Lexmark MFPs had similar scores in our Winter 2008 Head2Head Comparison on B&W MFPs in the range of $2,000 to $3,000.  The four Lexmark devices also had a considerably lower supply cost per page than several competitive MFPs.  By the virtue of its standard hard drive (maximizes printing, copying and user productivity) and low cost per page, the Lexmark X656E MFP narrowly bested the other Lexmark MFPs and was awarded a Wirth Consulting Winner Gold Medal for Overall Performance.

Congratulations Lexmark for a job well-done.

Happy reading!
Terry Wirth

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