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Lexmark's marketing strategy for its ink-jet printers and all-in-ones has been to sell them cheap, at one point so cheap it was rumoured to cost less to buy a replacement printer than a pair of new ink cartridges. Its latest photo printer, the P915, is still inexpensive to buy, but not quite at that level. For under £75, though, you're still getting a lot of printer for your money.
The P915 is designed to look like a smaller version of the P6250 all-in-one. It’s decked out in cream and steely blue and the first things you notice are a multi-format memory card reader and a colour LCD display. It's very unusual to see a 63mm LCD on a printer in this price bracket and Lexmark uses it well to display preview images from camera cards and its own menu options. You can’t change the display angle, though, which is a shame.
The printer uses a conventional paper path, from a near-vertical, 100-sheet hopper at the rear to a telescopic out-tray at the front. When you're not printing, the feed tray folds flat onto the top of the printer.
There's a seven-way memory card reader built in under a hinge-down cover on the right and a series of buttons to left and right of the display which control menu options. At the back, there's a single USB socket and a plug-in power supply which takes the mains lead.
Installation is reasonably straightforward, though we had trouble getting the driver to recognise a USB 2.0 connection. It worked happily with straight USB 1.0 however and we saw little difference in speed between this and the P6250, which had no problems with the same USB cable and port.
One of the neat features of the display is that it’s used to show how to fit and change the cartridges, using a simple Flash-style movie. It’s a simple matter to plug in the two cartridges, which by default offer tri-colour (cyan, magenta, yellow) and three-colour (light cyan, light magenta, black) photo inks. You can replace the photo cartridge with a black one, if you need to print text pages.
As well as the Lexmark driver, there are photo management and manipulation utilities for tidying up images before printing. They work well and are pitched at about the right level to make the printer useful. For serious photo editing though, you'll need to invest in more specialist software.
You can use this printer with a PC via a conventional cable, or as a stand-alone photo printer, taking images off a memory card or directly from a camera, via a PictBridge connection.
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