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The first thing you notice when you switch on the P450 is that it takes one minute 20 seconds to set itself up. Irritatingly, it does this every time you use it, not just when you change the ink cartridge.
Waiting is something you’ll have to get used to, as it takes roughly two minutes 45 seconds to print a 6 x 4 inch print from any source (Epson’s PictureMate 500 takes around 1:30 for the same size) and nearly half an hour to burn 100 images to a CD-R. A PC using Nero takes around one minute 40 seconds even on a slow, 16x writer.
You can print multiple sessions to the CD-R, so you waste no space on the disc, and you can transfer images from a burnt CD to a memory card or USB memory drive, which is handy if you want to take a few photos with you without risking your CD archive. The P450 only identifies jpg files, and can’t cope with formats such as tif or Kodak Photo CD.
Print quality was not great, using the fresh, type 33 cartridge supplied with the printer. Colours looked washed out and there was a noticeable lack of red. We tried cleaning the heads a few times, but with little improvement – we could see breaks in the stripes of cyan and magenta. Swapping for a new type 35 cartridge, again supplied by Lexmark, improved things, but the colours were still not as vivid as from, for example, an HP Photosmart 375.
Lexmark will follow up the successful launch of its Photo Printing Pack for the P315 with a similar package for the P450. This comprises a high-yield, type 35 cartridge, good for 140 6 x 4-inch prints, and 140 photo blanks. The company expects this to sell for £27.90 or less, giving a cost per print of just 20p, something of a price breakthrough for photo printing.
This is a versatile little machine, capable of all the standalone functions you’d expect of a photo printer. The addition of the CD-R drive is an excellent archival tool and the ability to display a slide show on your TV and to transfer photos from a camera or phone, via an optional Bluetooth link, adds to its practicality.
The only downside to all the functionality is the actual printing process. The prints we produced took a long time to come and the print quality didn’t compare well with Lexmark’s rivals.