The new model range brings slightly more realism to print speeds. Lexmark claims 17ppm and 11ppm for black and colour prints, respectively, but we saw 5.36ppm for five pages of black text, rising to 6.78ppm on the longer, 20-page document. The black text and colour graphics print retuned a speed of 4.11ppm.
These are not bad speeds for an inkjet all-in-one, though are again lengthened by the sometimes prolonged processing of pages before the start of print - we saw 26 seconds in one instance.
Most all-in-ones have enough intelligence and page memory to print while they're scanning in a multi-page copy, but the S405 only goes half way. Although it starts printing while still scanning a page, it doesn't start scanning the next page until it has finished printing. Even so, its time of 1:16 comfortably beat the HP OfficeJet 6500, tested recently and in the same price bracket, which took 2:20.
15 x 10cm photo prints varied from 43 to 52 seconds, which is very impressive for a machine in this class. This goes for photo reproduction, too, though perhaps we'd drop the 'very'. Our test photos showed good levels of detail in both light and dark areas of the images and although there was less red than in the originals, this is less of a fault than too much red.
Colour on plain paper, as in business graphics, is clean with no visible dither patterns and registration of black text over colour is excellent. A colour photocopy shows less lightening of coloured areas than in some of the machine's rivals, too.
Black text is generally clean, though under a loupe you can see some feathering into the paper fibres and overall print is to a higher standard than from earlier Lexmark all-in-ones.
Despite the new Vizix ink system, this printer continues in a Lexmark tradition of expensive consumables. Cartridges are again available as normal and Return Programme versions, with a discount on the Return Programme items, as long as you undertake to send the empties back to Lexmark.
Cartridges are also available in two capacities, but even using the high-capacity, XL ones, the costs come out at 4.70p for black and 11.83p for colour. Compare this with the Canon PIXMA MX320, a machine costing a mere £75, which gives equivalent costs of 4.09p and 8.78p. All these costs include 0.7p for paper.
High consumables costs have nothing to do with print technology, of course, and are purely a marketing decision on how much to charge for the cartridges. Page costs continue to be hidden to most new purchasers and can come as an unpleasant shock.
This is the first of Lexmark's new range of inkjet all-in-ones we've examined and in general improvements are impressive. While ink costs are still too high, the extra economy of individual ink cartridges, where you don't have to throw a tri-colour cartridge away when one ink is exhausted, is some compensation. Speeds are good and print quality is improved, getting closer to Canon and HP standards.