So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Low price, Media card support.
- High ink costs, Slow printing speeds, Disappointing print quality
The Lexmark P915 is priced low and includes common features like media card slots and a color LCD, but they don't make up for the poor print quality and expensive consumables.
Price$ 199.01 (AUD)
Like some of the more expensive models we tested, the Lexmark P915 offers media card slots and a direct-print port so you can print photos without having to turn on your PC. The card slots and a direct-print port sit behind a see-through flap that folds down from the front panel. There's also a 2.5-inch color LCD for previewing photos, viewing simple edits, and navigating the menus. When the control panel isn't in use, the monitor displays the ink levels as a series of bars.
Those bars could represent a lot of money. Even using Lexmark's high-capacity ink cartridges, the P915 turned in the highest ink costs, and when you factor in the highest paper costs of any printer we tested, it comes out to almost a dollar per 4-by-6-inch print. That's more than four times the per-print cost of the Epson PictureMate, the model we tested that had the lowest cost of consumables. Lexmark only sells its snapshot-size glossy paper in packs of 20; all the other vendors sell their 4-by-6-inch glossy paper in packs of at least 100 sheets or offer some savings by packaging multiple packs together.
One potential plus is that the P915's ink cartridges have print heads built into them, like HP's cartridges, which in theory could prevent clogged nozzles. The P915 uses two cartridges supplying six inks: a tri-color cartridge with dye-based inks and a photo ink cartridge containing pigment-based light cyan, light magenta, and black inks. Also, you can replace the photo cartridge with a pigment black-ink cartridge. Lexmark provides a snap-on plastic cover for storing partially used cartridges.
Using the optional pigment-black cartridge, the P915 clocked a text printing speed of 7.4 ppm. However, the 1.5 ppm color graphics speed was among the slowest, and 4-by-6-inch photos emerged slower than from most other printers we have tested. The P915 took over two minutes to print our snapshot at best quality settings.
Across the board, the P915's print quality was a disappointment. Colors in photos looked muted, and fine horizontal banding was evident. The black-and-white photo was particularly unattractive, which appeared dull and very grainy. On plain paper, color graphics looked fuzzy, but with decent contrast in shadows. The same horizontal banding showed up in text documents, and some letters were so fuzzy that they appeared to cast a shadow.
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