Review: Lexmark’s C792de Color Laser Printer

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Printer maker Lexmark has often found itself in recent years taking a back seat to rivals Xerox and Hewlett-Packard in the areas of technical innovation and channel strength, but one of its newer products could help improve its fortunes.

Lexmark’s C792de color laser printer is the fastest, sub-$2,000 printer we have yet to see in the CRN Test Center lab, with significant ease of deployment and strong management functions that should have VARs giving the company a new look. With a list price of $1,599, the C792de provides stellar value and nice competitiveness.

We examined this printer over a couple of days in our lab. It’s a big, honking piece of hardware, weighing in at 110 pounds -- meaning it would likely require a couple of people to hoist it into place once it’s taken out of the box. Its footprint sits at 20 inches by 22 inches by 20 inches, which is typical for a workgroup-sized printer.

Once situated, the C792de was up, running and on the network within five minutes. It can be monitored remotely via browser, or by installing the included software application. Here are some of the features and functions that stand out:

-- The 4.3-inch color touch screen allows for easy navigation, management and completion of print jobs in a very intuitive way. It also provides for a nice print-preview, particularly of photographs or other graphics;

-- Printing from a USB stick is dead-on simple (once this feature is enabled), and the USB port is located just below the touch screen;

-- The print-hold function, which other manufacturers also provide on competing hardware, is also nice and simple and navigable from the touch screen;

-- Under the hood, maintenance of toner cartridges is easy. Cartridges click into and out of place easily.

What impressed us the most, though, was the printer’s speed given its price point. We sent the printer a 100-page document, and the C792de completed the job in exactly 2 minutes flat, or 100 pages in 120 seconds. Printing a high-res color image from USB stick, output was 13 seconds with color that was about 85 percent accurate on plain printer paper.

The tray held 550 pages, but additional trays can be added to the unit to extend that volume.

Lexmark lists a cartridge yield of 6,000 pages or an extra high yield cartridge that stretches to 20,000 pages -- with a recommended monthly yield of between 2,500 and 17,000 pages. Given that, a regular pack of four cartridges can run in excess of $1,000 in street price, Lexmark may run into competitive cost issues vis-a-vis, say Xerox, which has been aggressive in providing VARs with tools to manage monthly supplies costs for customers. VARs would need to evaluate the volume of a particular client to see if a higher-volume solution might be better. For the most part, a moderate-sized workgroup could easily fall into Lexmark’s recommended output for the C792de, where supplies costs could be viewed favorably.

From a power consumption standpoint, the Lexmark printer drew between 650 and 750 watts during print jobs, with spikes of as much as 1,200. It idled at about 25 watts, or about 10 watts when it was in, essentially, sleep mode.

In our opinion, Lexmark presents a solid, price-attractive solution to workgroup printing needs -- with performance that is just stellar. The C792de is a printer that the CRN Test Center can strongly recommend.


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