At first sight, Lexmark appears to be getting more realistic with its speed specifications, as it now quotes 13ppm for black print and 3ppm for colour. However, our five-page text print took 1:04 to complete and its 20-page equivalent took 3:02, giving real-world black print speeds of 4.69ppm and 6.59ppm, still nowhere near the published specs.
Part of this is due to extended rasterising times before the first page starts to print. We saw pauses of up to 25 seconds before documents started to print and this may be due to a new default, where multi-page documents are printed in reverse order, so they don't have to be re-collated.
Our five-page text and colour graphics document took 3:18, a print speed of 0.30ppm - a tenth of Lexmark's claim. A 15 x 10cm photo print took 2:09 from a PictBridge camera, rising to 2:22 when sent from a PC.
Print quality is still one of the key features of any printer and the results from the X5650 are only fair. Text is black and pretty well-defined, though there is some slight fuzz around the edge of emboldened characters. Business graphics look rather pale, though there is no evidence of banding and registration of black text over colour is good.
Photo prints are still hampered by obvious dither dots in large areas of colour, such as skies, but detail in darker shadowed areas is improved over some previous Lexmark all-in-ones we've examined.
The two standard ink cartridges are available in two capacities and in Return Programme and non-Return Programme versions, with a small discount on the Return Programme parts, as long as you undertake to return them to Lexmark. Using the higher capacity, XL cartridges, we calculate page costs of 3.88p for black print and 7.53p for colour.
These costs are higher than from, for example, the Lexmark X6575 we tested recently, around 0.5p per page for black and nearer to a penny per page for colour.
Subjectively the X5650 looks better than its predecessors, with a neater profile and a much more readable display. Software has also been improved, but print speeds are, if anything, slower than before and print quality shows no noticeable improvement. If you compare photo output with prints from Canon, Epson or HP printers, you'll see where Lexmark continues to lag behind.