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Lexmark Looks to Cut into HP's Printer Biz

Lexmark International is making no mistake it is going all out to challenge Hewlett-Packard for a bigger share of the lucrative laser printer and multifunction device markets.

In an unusual move, Lexmark issued five press releases Monday disclosing details about its new suite of what it is calling "distributed laser printer and multifunction printer products." Lexmark is referring to products which combine copying, scanning and printing functions into an integrated business machine.

The battle between Lexmark, Hewlett-Packard and other manufacturers like Xerox is for stakes in the market for new digital multifunction machines, which are rapidly replacing older analog, single function copiers and printers.

Lexmark said it is rolling out no less than eleven new products, including eight monochrome laser printers, one color laser printer and two multifunction office machines. Lexmark is also marketing new attachment devices, which enable scanning and copying functions, when connected to certain printer models, accelerating print and copy speeds along with better printing resolution.

While HP, Xerox and several other business machine makers are pursuing a strategy of integrating technologies with multiple functions, Lexmark is taking a different tack. Lexmark says its modular approach gives customers additional flexibility, and a variety of pricing options. Lexmark says it is giving customers the ability to simply upgrade, if and when they decide want to add functionality over time.

But several of Lexmark's laser printers are very similar to those products on the market from HP. Lexmark says it wants to offer similar products, but at more competitive prices.

Lexmark says its $749 T630 will offer the same 35 page-per-minute printing as HP's $999 LaserJet 4200, while for $999 Lexmark is offering the 40 page-per-minute T632.

And HP isn't sitting back waiting for Lexmark to challenge it. Just last week, HP introduced two new printers and announced price cuts on several of its printer products.

Lexmark also said it is rolling out two lower-end printers, which compete against the Lexmark-made models that Dell Computer introduced last month. Lexmark's new $299 E321 will compete against Dell's $289 P1500.

Among the other products Lexmark is rolling out, include its new "E" line of printers, including Lexmark E21 and E23 systems for "space-critical" and business-class printing. The E21 will have a list price of $299, and is built with a 100 MHz processor and 8 Mb of memory. The E23 is built with a 200 MHz processor, 16 Mb of memory and is priced at $399. The E23n also can be integrated into an internal network and is priced at $599.

Lexmark's more sophisticated printers also include its new "T" line of printers, including the T630, T632 and T634. These products boast output speeds of between 35 and 45 pages per minute, a time to print of 8.5 seconds and a duty cycle of 225,000 pages per month. The T630 is priced at $729, the T632 is priced at $999 and the T634 at $1,399

Lexmark is also advancing digital color copier strategy with the new Lexmark C912 color printer, which can easily be connected to a general office printer to provide for enhanced graphics. The systems have a print speed of up to 28 pages per minute, with a street price estimated at either $3,499 for a base model or $4,499 for a networked model.

In a related development, or perhaps in a press release challenge from HP, the company said it is expanding and service offerings for its Digital Publishing Solutions division. HP said it is offering what it calls HP Indigo Printer Paper for its digital presses. HP said it is also upgrading its HP Production Flow system and rolling out a new HP Designjet large-format printer.