Cheap to Keep
While small printers of all sorts dominate in the classrooms, hallways and offices of today’s schools, larger devices, like Lexmark’s C792de, are faster and because they can be shared among many classrooms – and even an entire school – end up cheaper in the long run. That’s because their toner, and per page costs, are lower, resulting in a situation where a larger initial investment translates into lower daily expenses over time.
The center of attention is the C792de’s 4.3-inch touch-screen that controls the printer’s operation. It’s logically laid out and is great for setting up the wide variety of printing options or for previewing an image that is to be printed from a memory key that’s in the printer’s USB slot. Unfortunately, you can’t crop, enlarge or reduce the image.
There’s a main paper tray that holds a full ream of paper and has a convenient light for adding paper. The printer can handle all sorts of media, from envelopes and card stock to transparency sheets. There’s also an optional 2,000-sheet tray as well as a variety of finishers, some of which have staplers. Over several reams of basic paper, it didn’t jam.
Be warned, this is one big printer. It weighs 110-pounds, so plan on having at least two people and a dolly to unpack it, lug it to where it goes and get it onto a table or shelf. The good news is that the printer fits on a shelf that is 22.5-inches wide by 22-inches deep. Be careful, the power cord sticks out the back which can make it stick out 2 or 3 inches.
Expect to spend about 10 minutes to set it up to print and get it ready for schoolwork. It doesn’t have WiFi but the C792de can be connected to a single PC via a USB slot and has an Ethernet jack for networking the printer. Both can be used at once.
There’s driver software for a wide variety of clients, from recent versions of PC and Mac platforms to Linux systems. Lexmark’s program searches for the printer on the network and can work with static or DHCP automatic IP addressing.
At any time you can see what’s going on with the device by opening a browser page with its IP address. The page shows details about what’s going on in the printer, like how much toner is left, the status of the paper trays and allows you to change a variety of basic parameters.
Inside is a powerful 1,200 by 1,200 dot per inch imaging engine that has 512MB of memory and a 1.2GHz processor. There’s an optional hard drive for storing frequently used forms and a way to hold confidential documents in the printer and after a password is entered, the document is printed.
It produces well-formed type with sharp angles and smooth rounded characters, graphs and images. It’s perfect for everything from homework assignments and tests to letters to state officials or parents. Colors are accurate and rich, but a little muted compared to other color laser printers. Happily, its toner has a matte finish and doesn’t have the shiny sheen that other laser printers have.
On the downside, the printer makes an annoying whining noise when it’s being used. It’s much easier to deal with than the jet engine sound from other printers, but I think it restricts its use to a hallway or dedicated room. It also smells a little like burnt hair when it’s being used.
For those used to waiting and waiting for inkjet printers to deliver their output, the C792de is very fast. In actual use, the first sheet comes out in 13 seconds and it pumps out documents at 32 single-sided pages per minute. Full-page images are printed at 2.3 pages per minute.
The C792de has a big bonus for schools trying to trim expenses by cutting paper use. It is one of the least expensive printers with a built-in duplexer. At 22-pages per minute, it slows things down a little but printing on both sides saves paper and cash.
The best part is that the C792de uses large toner cartridges that can print as many as 20,000 pages. With the high capacity cartridges, this adds up to per page costs of less than 2 cents for monochrome and 9.2 cents for color. That’s roughly half as much per page as Dell’s 1355cnx and other small color laser printers.
It takes a minute to slide the old cartridge out and insert the new one without any chance of spilling any toner. Plus, you don’t have to replace the cartridges as often.
With a 1-year warranty that includes on-site service, the C792de sells for $1,600; a less expensive e model costs $250 less but sacrifices the duplexer. A more realistic 3 year warranty adds a hefty $879.
Still, the C792de’s superior speed, duplexing abilities and print quality can change the way schools think about printing and color.
+ Fast printing
+ Touch screen control panel
+ Built-in duplexerarge toner cartridges
+ LAN and USB connections
- Big and heavy