Lexmark P915 review
On paper, the P915’s specifications are enticing for the price. For only £66 it tempts you with a 2.5in TFT, card readers for all major formats and a six-ink system with a maximum resolution of 4,800 x 1,200dpi.
In the flesh, the Lexmark isn’t the prettiest to look at but feels a little sturdier than the Z735. It uses the standard rear-to-front paper path, so you can load around 100 sheets into the rear upright feeder and the output tray lies flat against the desk at the front.
Although a mono cartridge is available, Lexmark ships tri-colour and photo cartridges, providing full six-colour printing out of the box. We like the fact that the print heads are integrated into the cartridges as they’re regularly replaced.
Another bonus is the paper sensor. This not only allows automatic head alignment, but can also detect the type of paper that’s topmost in the paper tray. Like the HPs, it means that print quality can be adjusted without you having to set it manually in the driver. The driver lets you see what type is detected before printing as a precaution.
From the front panel, you can easily crop and print a selection of photos at varying sizes on different papers, but it’s frustratingly slow to browse through photos – it takes several seconds before even a low-resolution preview is shown. You can copy photos from the card reader to a PC, but again it’s very slow, taking over five minutes to copy only 6.5MB of files. You can view ink levels and clean print heads from the menus as well. When printing, a progress bar is displayed: a useful indicator, especially for long jobs.
Unfortunately, print quality wasn’t up to our expectations. Mono text was acceptable at normal quality, although it was neither as crisp or black as the Canon iP2200’s. In draft mode, quality dropped off markedly, with noticeable banding and spidery characters.
Colour documents on plain paper weren’t noticeably worse than other entry-level inkjets; it was the quality of photos that proved the most disappointing. In isolation, like most photos, the P915’s bordered on acceptable, but side-by-side with the HP 5940’s, for example, showed them to be much poorer. Grain and banding were visible from normal viewing distances and colours tended to be oversaturated. This caused details to be lost in shadows or dark areas.
Our black and white test images had a distinct cyan cast, which made greys look blue. On coated paper at best quality, grain was less noticeable in mono images, but text was still too fuzzy for our liking.
Speed wasn’t much better than quality. Mono text appeared at 1.4ppm, making it the slowest on test at normal quality. Draft quality improved this to 10.2ppm, but quality suffered. Printing a 6 x 4in photo at best quality took almost three minutes, while the A4 photo montage took five minutes, 16 seconds at the same quality on Lexmark’s Glossy Photo paper.
When you factor in the higher than average running costs, there are too many reasons not to buy the P915. If a TFT and media card readers are high on your list of priorities, the Epson R240 is a better choice, not least because of its low running costs. However, if you can live without them, the HP 5940 is worth considering – it’s cheaper to buy, offers far better quality and is faster than the P915.
Unfortunately, despite reasonably well-priced paper (17p per sheet) and 95 per cent efficiency, the Lexmark P915 is actually one of the most expensive printers to run. This is because of the extortionate cost of replacing the ink.