Lexmark x6570 – wireless printing & scanning

All that hype about the paperless office never came true, but the notion of the wireless office is rapidly taking hold as more small and home-based businesses replace wired LANs with WiFi networks. The Lexmark X6570, an 802.11g-enabled all-in-one makes cutting the Ethernet cable a very compelling proposition (and compliments my Belkin N1 nicely :D).

The X6570 uses the familiar two-cartridge, four-color ink system — one cartridge for black ink, one tricolor cartridge with yellow, cyan, and magenta — for everyday text and graphics jobs and casual photo printing. But you can also swap out the black for an optional photo cartridge, which turns the Lexmark into a six-color printer for richer, more accurate images.

Two memory-card slots on the front panel support a slew of digital-camera flash-card formats (CompactFlash, Memory Stick/Pro, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, and xD). Plus, there’s a PictBridge USB port that allows you to plug in a compatible camera and print directly from its storage card without transferring pics to your PC. Another USB 2.0 port in back provides connection to a WiFi-free PC.

Automatic duplex (two-sided) printing is standard, as is a 25-page automatic document feeder (ADF) for multipage copying, scanning, and faxing. A paper sensor automatically detects what kind of paper you have loaded in the 100-page paper tray.

The X6570 comes with OCR (optical character recognition) software for converting scanned and faxed documents to editable text, as well as a useful application called Lexmark Productivity Studio. From the latter’s control console, you can manage printing, scanning, copying, sending PC documents as faxes, scanning and sending documents as e-mail attachments, and converting documents to PDF files as well as turning pages to word processing files using OCR.

I encountered a number of problems during setup:

  • The supplied driver disk was outdated and caused Windows XP to blue-screen. Downloading a newer version from here solved this problem.
  • The printers firmware and wireless BIOS was outdated and caused issues connecting to the router and getting out of standby. This was quick to fix by updating the firmware WLAN card and printer engine.

In the past I purchased only HP printers and in comparison I prefer the Lexmark, but there are a few snags:

  • The printing seems to take longer than similar priced printers. I had to change the print-quality to get a better result.
  • The printer does not allow simultaneous USB and Wifi mode. This is not really an issue since the Wifi printing is fast enough.
  • In Wifi mode scanning is not supported as the printer does not appear as a TWAIN/WIA scanner from applications other than Lexmark’s Productivity Studio. If you are like me used to scan straight into Adobe PDF, this will annoy you. Using the Lexmark tools for Wifi scanning is a bit cumbersome. (The x6570 will act as a TWAIN/WIA scanner in USB mode though).
  • The printer driver talks too much. Literally! Some bored developer decided that it would be cool to have voice prompts. After hearing “Printing started” or “Printer is out of paper” you will very quickly turn this feature off. (It has a very strong geek-factor though 🙂)

I would not have bought this printer if it was not for the wireless feature. Unfortunately my preferred brand (HP) did not have a competing product.