Sunday, February 4, 2007

Lexmark E352dn - an excellent network printer

After owning a Samsung SCX-4X16 series printer and HP Officejet Model 710, it was becoming clear that consumer multifunction printers are very poor products in general. Too complex, too much host side software needed and poor vendor support. Over time, the Samsung developed both parallel and USB connectivity problems (tried to correct through three different hosts, different cables, same behavior resulted). The HP just couldn't function until its host side software worked which it rarely did. The best malfunction of this printer was printing one letter of a document on a scale that spread it across four pages.

These two experiences showed a couple things:

  • Multifunctional printers do not do one thing well but may do many things poorly.
  • If host side software is required, the printer will eventually be unusable as the OS marches forward in its patching.
  • Devices that require a host to be turned on to be network shared are just about useless in this day and age of home wireless networks.

Recommendations buying a new printer:

  • Don't go multifunctional.
  • Make sure it is network based and does not have to be connected to a PC
  • Make sure it can support more than just MS Windows (this forces a much better designed device)
After searching for a new printer the Lexmark E352dn came up as a pretty good bet - and it has been absolutely perfect so far.

Unpacked the new E352dn
Plugged in the printer to my wireless router via ethernet so that it could be accessed from all my 802.11 hosts in the house.

Here is what was observed:
  • Is a DHCP client
  • Has a web server http://192.168.1.103/
  • Does not share any filesystem \\192.168.1.103
  • Has an FTP Server (for what purpose?)
$ ftp 192.168.1.103
Connected to 192.168.1.103.
220 ET000400C5F980 Lexmark E352dn FTP Server NZ0.NA.N001 ready.
User (192.168.1.103:(none)):
230 User default logged in.
ftp> dir
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII data connection (192.168.1.101,5001).
Total 0
226 Transfer complete.
ftp: 9 bytes received in 0.00Seconds 9000.00Kbytes/sec.
ftp> pwd
257 "/prt0" is the current directory.
ftp>

Install Experience
But I didn't get far with my, "Never install the CD that comes with the product". The printer drivers were needed in order to add a network printer to Windows. Of course that is easily done after unpacking and connecting the Lexmark - another indicator of excellent product quality.

Using MS Windows, specifically search for the drivers off the CD that comes with the E352dn. Don't use its setup.exe or autorun features. Once the drivers are installed, the printer will work like a charm. Interestingly enough, directly installing the drivers circumvents the affirmative assent license agreement that is supposed to be accepted.


Driver install details:

  • Installed E352dn driver (PCL?)
  • Installed E352dn PS3 driver
  • This installs two different printers.


Went back to web interface and noticed a static IP Address could be set up

http://192.168.1.103/
Gave it a reasonable hostname, "Lexmark E352dn"
Printer Server Settings->TCP/IP->Set static IP address
Once this address is changed, you have to update the driver port settings. Right click on the Lexmark in the "Printers & Faxes" control panel, choose properties->Ports tab and re-configure the previously set up ports.



Examined CD for extras

Ran setup.exe and chose custom option->Select components->Local (using previously configured local printers)

Components (IP Setup Utility AFAIK) can be installed in different locations but the browse folder functionality is unusable. The default drive, C, can't be changed without have to manually retype default path.



Driver Profiler

  • Sets profile defaults for the driver when the drivers are installed by script. I think these are the 'Printers & Faxes'->Right click on Lexmark printer->Printer Preferences (Also available on Print panel from application's print menu option)
  • So I skipped it.

Enhanced Communication Software & Status Window

Tools - IP Setup Utility & Screen Fonts
  • Skipped IP Setup Utility - seems like all the TCP/IP configs can be done through the web interface


Alas, stuff is installed that we were not expecting: C:\Program Files\Lexmark_HostCD\Install\ some doc installs here as well as the installer. Guess it has to go somewhere.

Uninstaller

Uninstalls really cleanly and also recognizes printers installed using Windows Printer and Faxes control panel so those can be uninstalled if manually setup as described above.


Host Software Summary

Excellent software, open minded approach to configuration, "If you installed your printer driver without using the Software and Documentation CD, you can still install your screen fonts from the [install cd]".

Annoyances
  • Setup.exe installer makes it hard to change the install path of components
  • The properties panel is slow to show when printing from within applications: File->Print->Properties takes too long to display (probably talks across my wireless network)
  • The
  • When the printer properties "2 Sided Printing" is set to "Use printer settings" a "Manual Duplex" checkbox shows up on the print panel. This is the off the shelf configuration and is surprising to see since the printer comes with an automatic, not manual duplexer. Of course this is due to Windows allowing us to manually duplex be re-feeding a document. So it is a feature, not a bug. (Seriously, the automatic duplex does long edge and short edge duplex printing but manual duplex allows various rotations if needed)
  • The included doc didn't seem to say anything about the duplexing feature
  • The duplexer is not internal... rather a sheet is ejected and then pulled back off the output tray - a little suprising if you are watching the printer.
Quick Setup

Here is a picture journal of the driver install. This is the bare minimum required.



Yeah, counterintuitive: a local printer has to be configured. I'm unsure why the E352dn cannot be directly treated as a network printer.






1 comment:

bala murugan said...

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