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BUYERS LABORATORY INC. Test Report Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 Railroad Avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com. MARCH 2007 LAB TESTED INKJET CARTRIDGES FOR LEXMARK PRINTERS Original Lexmark vs. 12 Third-Party Competitive Brands Comparative Performance Evaluation Executive Summary Buyers Laboratory Inc. (BLI) was commissioned by Lexmark International, Inc. to conduct an inde- pendent test of ink-jet cartridge performance in Lexmark X4270, Z611 and Z715 printers for the purpose of evaluating and comparing the reliability and image quality performance of new Lexmark #16, #50 and #70 black ink cartridges and #20 and #26 tri-color ink cartridges to that of 12 brands of third-party competitive cartridges. The third-party cartridges included in the test are represented as Brand A, Brand B, Brand C, Brand D, Brand E, Brand F, Brand G, Brand H, Brand I, Brand J, Brand K and Brand L. Throughout BLI’s tests, in which over 80,000 pages were printed from 393 cartridges on 21 printers, the original Lexmark brand cartridges clearly displayed performance that was superior overall to that of the 12 brands of third-party competitive cartridges tested. Lexmark vs. the Competition: How They Stack Up Lexmark Third-Party Reliability 100% (0 Failures) 40.6% (139 Failures) Image Quality 96.1% High Quality 25.1% High Quality Problem Cartridges 3.9% (2 cartridges) 76.0% (260 cartridges) Cartridge Reliability While not a single Lexmark cartridge failed in any of BLI’s tests, reliability problems were encoun- tered with 139 (or nearly 41%) of the 342 competitive third-party cartridges tested. Image Quality Performance When evaluating image quality performance, 96.1% of the Lexmark images earned “High Quality” rat- ings, whereas only 25.1% of the third-party competitive cartridges earned “High Quality” ratings. Problem Cartridges Overall, 76.0% (260 cartridges) of the third-party competitive brands qualified as “Problem Cartridges” (those failing out of box or prematurely, and those with "Fair" or "Poor" image quality) versus only 3.9% (only two cartridges) of the Lexmark cartridges, with the percentage of Problem Cartridges for the third-party competitive brands ranging from 46.7% to 100%.

INKJET CARTRIDGES FOR LEXMARK PRINTERS … test of ink-jet cartridge performance in Lexmark X4270, Z611 and Z715 printers for the

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  • Buyers LaBoratory INC.Test Report

    Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    MARCH 2007

    LA

    B T

    ESTED

    INKJET CARTRIDGES FOR LEXMARK PRINTERS

    Original Lexmark vs. 12 Third-Party Competitive Brands

    Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Executive Summary

    Buyers Laboratory Inc. (BLI) was commissioned by Lexmark International, Inc. to conduct an inde-pendent test of ink-jet cartridge performance in Lexmark X4270, Z611 and Z715 printers for the purpose of evaluating and comparing the reliability and image quality performance of new Lexmark #16, #50 and #70 black ink cartridges and #20 and #26 tri-color ink cartridges to that of 12 brands of third-party competitive cartridges. the third-party cartridges included in the test are represented as Brand a, Brand B, Brand C, Brand D, Brand e, Brand F, Brand G, Brand H, Brand I, Brand J, Brand K and Brand L.

    throughout BLIs tests, in which over 80,000 pages were printed from 393 cartridges on 21 printers, the original Lexmark brand cartridges clearly displayed performance that was superior overall to that of the 12 brands of third-party competitive cartridges tested.

    Lexmark vs. the Competition: How They Stack Up

    Lexmark Third-Party

    Reliability 100% (0 Failures) 40.6% (139 Failures)

    Image Quality 96.1% High Quality 25.1% High Quality

    Problem Cartridges 3.9% (2 cartridges) 76.0% (260 cartridges)

    Cartridge Reliability

    While not a single Lexmark cartridge failed in any of BLIs tests, reliability problems were encoun-tered with 139 (or nearly 41%) of the 342 competitive third-party cartridges tested.

    Image Quality Performance

    When evaluating image quality performance, 96.1% of the Lexmark images earned High Quality rat-ings, whereas only 25.1% of the third-party competitive cartridges earned High Quality ratings.

    Problem Cartridges

    Overall, 76.0% (260 cartridges) of the third-party competitive brands qualified as Problem Cartridges (those failing out of box or prematurely, and those with "Fair" or "Poor" image quality) versus only 3.9% (only two cartridges) of the Lexmark cartridges, with the percentage of Problem Cartridges for the third-party competitive brands ranging from 46.7% to 100%.

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Buyers LaBoratory INC. Test Report

    Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    BLI Lab Test Findings

    Reliability Performance

    While not a single Lexmark cartridge failed in any of BLIs tests, reliability problems were encountered with 139 (or nearly 41%) of the 342 competitive third-party car-tridges tested. as shown in the table below, the failure rates of the third-party car-tridges ranged from a low of 17.6% to a high of 77.8%, and all of the competitive car-tridges (black and color) together had an overall average failure rate of 40.6%. While 106 of the third-party cartridge failures were out-of-Box Failures (meaning they were either unusable out of the box or they produced fewer than 20 acceptable pages), 33 were classified as Premature Failures, meaning they produced fewer than 75% of the average yield of acceptable pages printed by the original Lexmark cartridges of the corresponding cartridge type. the graphs on page 3 show the breakdown according to the color of the cartridge.

    Cartridge Failures

    Brand Number of Cartridges TestedOut-of-Box

    Failures Premature

    Failures Total

    FailuresPercent Failures

    Lexmark 51 0 0 0 0.0%

    Brand A 21 9 3 12 57.1%

    Brand B 48 18 7 25 52.1%

    Brand C 9 3 2 5 55.6%

    Brand D 21 1 7 8 38.1%

    Brand E 51 9 0 9 17.6%

    Brand F 21 3 1 4 19.0%

    Brand G 30 5 1 6 20.0%

    Brand H 18 14 0 14 77.8%

    Brand I 21 5 2 7 33.3%

    Brand J 21 5 3 8 38.1%

    Brand K 30 3 4 7 23.3%

    Brand L 51 31 3 34 66.7%

    TOTALS

    LExmArK 51 0 0 0 0.0%

    ALL THIrD-PArTY COmPETITIVE BrANDS 342 106 33 139 40.6%

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Test Report Buyers LaBoratory INC.

    Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Percentage of tri-color cartridge failures

    LEXMARK

    Brand L

    Brand K

    Brand J

    Brand I

    Brand H

    Brand G

    Brand F

    Brand E

    Brand D

    Brand B

    Brand A

    0.0

    25.0

    4.8

    8.3

    8.3

    8.3

    25.0

    25.0

    25.0

    57.1

    8.3

    25.0

    16.7

    25.0

    88.9

    41.7

    41.7

    16.7

    66.7

    Premature Failures Out-of-Box Failures

    0.0

    50.0

    61.9

    16.6

    25.0

    16.7

    33.3

    88.9

    50.0

    66.7

    41.7

    66.7

    8.0 38.9 46.9THIRD-PARTY COMPETITIVE

    BRANDS

    Percentage of BlacK cartridge failures

    LEXMARK 0.0

    Premature Failures

    0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

    Brand K

    Brand J

    Brand I

    Brand H

    Brand G

    Brand F

    Brand E

    Brand D

    Brand C

    Brand B

    Brand A 0.0

    22.2

    22.2

    66.7

    11.1

    11.1

    0.0

    5.6

    Brand L 11.1

    66.7

    22.2

    33.3

    11.1

    11.1

    11.1

    66.7

    5.6

    55.6

    66.7

    44.4

    55.5

    66.7

    11.1

    22.2

    11.1

    66.7

    11.1

    0.0

    11.2

    66.7

    Out-of-Box Failures

    0.0

    11.1THIRD-PARTY COMPETITIVE

    BRANDS23.9 35.0

    0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Buyers LaBoratory INC. Test Report

    Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Image Quality Performance

    When evaluating image quality performance, 96.1% of the Lexmark images earned High Quality ratings, whereas only 25.1% of the third-party competitive cartridges earned High Quality ratings. this is shown in both the table on page 8 and the corresponding graph below. High Quality cartridges are defined as those that achieved an image quality rat-ing of excellent or Good, meaning that they produced images without defects and had crisp, clear and uniform text, dense and uniform solids, and consistent colors that matched the original test targets. Low Quality cartridges are those that either failed to print at all or achieved an image quality rating of Fair or Poor due to image quality defects such as streaking, broken text, mottled solids, poor color fidelity, washed out colors and faded solids. (see exhibits a, B and C on pages 5, 6 and 7, respectively, for print samples.)

    image quality Performance Percent of High-quality cartridges

    0%

    LEXMARK

    20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

    96.

    Brand A

    Brand B

    Brand C

    Brand D

    Brand E

    Brand F

    Brand G

    Brand H

    Brand I

    Brand J

    Brand K

    Brand L

    8.

    8.8

    0.0

    0.0

    .

    .9

    5.

    6.7

    .

    .8

    6.7

    .5

    THIRD-PARTY COMPETITIVE

    BRANDS5.

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Test Report Buyers LaBoratory INC.

    5Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Text is dense, consistent, crisp and clean; Density is very dark and uniform; Bar chart halftone gradations are smooth and clean.

    Exhibit A: ISO Text Document Print Samples and Ratings

    Excellent

    Text is lighter with slight evidence of ink splat-tering, but still clear; Density is lighter but still uniform; Bar chart halftone gradations are lighter, but still clear.

    Good

    Text is light with ink splattering and breakup; Density is light with some streaking; Bar chart halftone gradations are evident but very light.

    Fair

    Text is inconsistent, faded and broken; Density is very light with streaking; Bar chart halftone gra-dations are very light with excessive streaking.

    Poor

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Buyers LaBoratory INC. Test Report

    6 Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Exhibit B: BLIs 20% Color Test Target Print Samples and Ratings

    All colors are dense, solid and uniform, with no streaking.

    Excellent

    Light/intermittent thin-line streaking and/or some loss of color density.

    Good

    Moderate/consistent thin-line streaking and/or loss of color density.

    Fair

    Excessive thick-line streaking and/or color fade.

    Poor

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Test Report Buyers LaBoratory INC.

    7Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Exhibit C: Family Color Photo PDF Samples (details) and Ratings

    Images are clean and clearly defined; colors are balanced and strong, and match the original target. Very light graininess.

    Excellent

    Images are clean and clearly defined; colors are bal-anced, although a shade lighter than the original tar-get. Moderate graininess is also evident.

    Good

    Images are clean and clearly defined, although colors are several shades lighter than the original target, with a somewhat washed-out or pale appearance, and are several shades off from the original target. Moderate graininess is also evident.

    Fair

    Though images are clear, colors are washed out and unbalanced, with over saturation of C, M, Y or K. Color fidelity is poor, with little resemblance to the original target.

    Poor

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Buyers LaBoratory INC. Test Report

    8 Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    among all the third-party competitive brands, 74.9% were considered Low Quality, with a low-quality range of 46.7% to 100%. In addition, 11 of the 342 third-party cartridges tested, slightly more than 3%, failed to print at all. of the Low Quality images that were produced by the third-party cartridges, BLIs technicians noted that the image quality defects ranged from the typical as noted above to the extreme (which included yellow images printed in green, tan and lime; magenta images printed in gray, yellow, purple and yellow and rose streaks; and cyan printed in a faint yellow or deep teal, per exhibits D and e on pages 9 and 10).

    Image Quality Ratings

    Brand Number Of Cartridges TestedHigh-Quality Pages % High

    QualityLow-Quality Pages % Low

    QualityExcellent Good Fair Poor Failed to Print

    Lexmark 51 21 28 96.1% 2 0 0 3.9%

    Brand A 21 1 7 38.1% 4 9 0 61.9%

    Brand B 48 1 8 18.8% 21 18 0 81.3%

    Brand C 9 0 0 0.0% 6 3 0 100.0%

    Brand D 21 0 0 0.0% 20 1 0 100.0%

    Brand E 51 0 16 31.4% 26 8 1 68.6%

    Brand F 21 4 5 42.9% 9 3 0 57.1%

    Brand G 30 1 15 53.3% 9 3 2 46.7%

    Brand H 18 0 3 16.7% 1 10 4 83.3%

    Brand I 21 0 3 14.3% 13 4 1 85.7%

    Brand J 21 1 4 23.8% 11 5 0 76.2%

    Brand K 30 1 4 16.7% 22 3 0 83.3%

    Brand L 51 0 12 23.5% 8 28 3 76.5%

    TOTALS

    LExmArK 51 21 28 96.1% 2 0 0 3.9%

    ALL THIrD-PArTY COmPETITIVE BrANDS

    342 9 77 25.1% 150 95 11 74.9%

    Image Quality Performance (continued)

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Test Report Buyers LaBoratory INC.

    9Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Colors are washed out and unbalanced, with excessive magenta saturation giving the overall image a pinkish hue; images are excessively grainy.

    Entire photographic image was printed in a faded blue with some areas completely devoid of any color.

    Exhibit D

    The following three images represent a sampling of excessive third-party image quality defects when BLI test analysts attempted to print the Family Color Photo PDF.

    Color fidelity is very poor, and images are excessively grainy and saturated in black.

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Buyers LaBoratory INC. Test Report

    0 Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Magenta bar was printed as a muddy gray; cyan as a deep teal; and yellow as a green.

    Magenta bar was printed in a very light yellow, with excessive streaking; cyan bar was printed in a faint yellow, with excessive streaking; yellow bar was saturated and displayed excessive streaking.

    Yellow bar was printed as a lime green.

    Yellow bar was printed as a light brown. Magenta bar was printed in rose and yellow and displayed excessively heavy streaking; cyan bar was printed in very faded rose and faint yellow with excessively heavy streaking.

    Exhibit E

    The following images represent a sampling of excessive third-party image quality defects when BLIs test analysts attempted to print BLIs 20% CMYK Color Test Target:

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Test Report Buyers LaBoratory INC.

    Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Problem Cartridges

    In determining which cartridges were most problematic, BLIs technicians assessed reliability and image quality performance and found significant disparities between the Lexmark ink-jet cartridges and the third-party competitive cartridges. overall, 76.0% (260 cartridges) of the third-party competitive brands qualified as Problem Cartridges versus only 3.9% (or only two) of the Lexmark cartridges, with the per-centage of Problem Cartridges for the third-party competitive brands ranging from 46.7% to 100%.

    the table below compares the third-party competitive brands with original Lexmark cartridges by detailing the occurrences of Problem Cartridges, defined as Out-of-Box Failures, Premature Failures and Other. Cartridges receiving Poor IQ ratings were placed into the category for out-of-Box failures, while those that received Fair image quality ratings, but did not fail prematurely, are included in the category for other.

    Both the table and the accompanying graph demonstrate the clear superiority of origi-nal Lexmark cartridges over the third-party competitive brands.

    Problem Cartridges

    Brand Number of Cartridges TestedOut-of-Box

    FailuresPremature

    Failures Other*Total Problem

    CartridgesPercent Problem

    Cartridges

    Lexmark 51 0 0 2 2 3.9%

    Brand A 21 9 3 3 15 71.4%

    Brand B 48 18 7 14 39 81.3%

    Brand C 9 3 2 4 9 100.0%

    Brand D 21 1 7 13 21 100.0%

    Brand E 51 9 0 26 35 68.6%

    Brand F 21 3 1 8 12 57.1%

    Brand G 30 5 1 8 14 46.7%

    Brand H 18 14 0 1 15 83.3%

    Brand I 21 5 2 11 18 85.7%

    Brand J 21 5 3 9 17 81.0%

    Brand K 30 3 4 19 26 86.7%

    Brand L 51 31 3 5 39 76.5%

    TOTALS

    Lexmark 51 0 0 2 2 3.9%

    All THIrD-PArTY COmPETITIVE BrANDS 342 106 33 121 260 76.0%

    * Note: Other refers to all cartridges that received Fair image ratings, but did not fail prematurely. Those that received Fair image quality ratings and also failed prematurely are counted in the category for Premature Failures.

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Buyers LaBoratory INC. Test Report

    Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    ProBlem cartridges

    0%

    LEXMARK

    20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

    .9

    Brand A

    Brand B

    Brand C

    Brand D

    Brand E

    Brand F

    Brand G

    Brand H

    Brand I

    Brand J

    Brand K

    Brand L

    7.

    8.

    00.0

    00.0

    68.6

    57.

    6.7

    8.

    85.7

    8.0

    86.7

    76.5

    THIRD-PARTY COMPETITIVE

    BRANDS76.0

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Test Report Buyers LaBoratory INC.

    Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Conditions

    BLI performed these tests under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity, with conditions monitored 24/7 by a Honeywell Model 61 seven-Day temperature/Humidity Chart recorder. the allowable temperature range was 68F to 78F, and the allowable humidity range was 35% to 65%. all test devices and materials were conditioned for a minimum of eight hours prior to testing.

    Reliability

    throughout testing, any cartridge malfunctions observed, such as operational/mechanical failure, physical defects, ink leakage, clogged print-head nozzles, and image quality failures, were recorded. BLIs test technicians also compared unpackaged products to Lexmark original samples and/or images to validate authenticity.

    Out-of-box failures: a cartridge that was inoperable upon installation, or produced 20 or fewer acceptable pages, was considered to be an out-of-box failure.

    Premature failures: Cartridges that produced below 75% of the average Lexmark page yield were considered to be premature failures.

    Test Methodology Overview

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Buyers LaBoratory INC. Test Report

    Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    Image Quality

    A) Monochrome (#16, #50, #70) / Tri-Color (#26, #20) Cartridges, Normal Mode: In this phase of testing, black image quality was based on output of the Iso text target, which was visually assessed by a team of BLI laboratory test technicians and assigned a grade of Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor, for which a corresponding numerical value was also assigned (Excellent = 4; Good = 3; Fair = 2; and Poor = 1), in order to permit an overall grade for a particular brand to be assigned. BLIs test analysts based their assessments on a set of specific criteria, including imperfections in lettering, solids and lines, density and the appearance of streaks. Color image qual-ity in this phase was based on BLIs four-color vertical bar test document, with the analysts using a set of criteria that included the occurrence of streaking (width and frequency of streak lines), color density, uniformity and color fidelity.

    B) Tri-Color (#26, #20) Cartridges, Photo Mode: In this phase of the testing, the printers were run in Photo Mode (Best mode for the Z611s and Better mode for the Z715s), using Lexmark Premium Photo Paper, and a family photo pdf test target (which consists of three 4 x 6 photographic images on one page). a set of corresponding black and color cartridges was used in each printer, and three color car-tridges of each brand were evaluated. Black cartridges from the same manufacturer were run with each tri-color cartridge tested in order to balance the images produced and thereby to facilitate the evaluation process. the tri-color cartridges tested in Photo Mode were evaluated based on criteria that included image graininess, clar-ity/sharpness, color fidelity and density.

    Problem Cartridges

    Problem cartridges were those defined as Out-of-Box Failures (meaning they were either unusable out of the box or produced 20 or fewer acceptable pages); Premature Failures (meaning they produced fewer than 75% of the average page yield of accept-able pages printed by the original Lexmark cartridges of the corresponding type); and those having Fair or Poor image quality (although those with Poor image quality ratings were placed in the category for out-of-Box Failures, as they typically produced 20 or fewer acceptable pages).

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Test Report Buyers LaBoratory INC.

    5Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    ISO Text Test Document

    BLI's 20% CMYK Test Document

    Family Photo PDF

    Exhibit F: Test Targets

  • Inkjet Cartridge Comparative Performance Evaluation

    Buyers LaBoratory INC. Test Report

    6 Buyers Laboratory Inc., 20 railroad avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601; www.buyerslab.com.

    For nearly 45 years, Buyers Lab (www.buyerslab.com) has been the leading independent test lab and busi-ness consumer advocate for the office document imaging industry and buyers of office products. BLI is completely independent in all of its testing processes and subsequent reporting, and performs its extensive product evaluations in its 10,000-square-foot test facility located in Hackensack, NJ. Each year, BLIs teams of highly experienced lab test technicians and product analysts, who have an average of 10 to 15 years of industry expertise, evaluate and report on hundreds of new document imaging devices, consumables and imaging media of all types. With over four decades of leading the product testing field, and a reputation for quality testing and unbiased reporting, BLI is the recognized expert in the industry. And the companys comprehensive array of products and services provide its clients with the most credible source of critical intelligence, allowing them to make informed and profitable business decisions.

    BLIs products include comprehensive field and laboratory test reports, specification data and news cover-age on copiers, printers, facsimile machines and multifunctional (MFP) document imaging devices, in addi-tion to consulting services that assist buyers in the office equipment acquisition process, from RFP creation to vendor award. Buyers Lab also provides specialized confidential custom testing services for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and business consumers that includes private testing of imaging devices, imaging media and consumables for quality assurance, product development, performance certification, competitive comparison and acquisition purposes.

    About Buyers Laboratory Inc