Lexmark rates the OfficeEdge Pro5500 at a maximum black print speed of 40ppm in draft and 21ppm to the ISO standard, with colour quoted at 36ppm and 14ppm, respectively.
These figures don't include any processing time before print starts, which can be up to 20s and we saw a maximum normal mode speed of 15ppm for our 20 page test document, with 11ppm more typical on shorter runs. Colour results were 7.9ppm for a five-page document. These are good speeds for a business inkjet and compare well with similarly priced laser and LED printers. It's just the claims that are silly.
Where things really slow down, though, is when printing duplex. When Epson released its WorkForce Pro machines, we were pleased to find that its new print engine at least partly resolved the problem of waiting for the ink to dry between sides of a duplex page. Lexmark hasn't done the same, so our 20-page test printed as a 20-side duplex document only gave 4.5 sides per minute, around half the Epson's speed.
This slow duplex print reflects in the OfficeEdge Pro5500’s copies, too. Lexmark has intelligently fitted two scanning heads, which means both sides of a duplex page can be scanned in one pass. This happens much more quickly than the corresponding duplex print, though, so the machine has to buffer each page in memory while waiting for the print engine to catch up. It took 2:16 to copy our five page duplex document, when the Epson Workforce Pro WP-4535DWF did it in 1:46.
There were a couple of other anomalies in the Lexmark machine, such as its not appearing to recognise a change of paper size when printing photos, even when we had manually selected 15 x 10cm image and paper in the appropriate menus. Also, Lexmark's Android wireless print app wouldn't work with our Samsung Galaxy Mini, a current model running version Android 2.6.
The print quality is close to laser standard and, even in draft mode, is more than suitable for day-to-day office documents. Colour print is very bright and arresting, with no signs of banding or dither patterns. Copies are close to originals in print quality and colour reproduction. Photos, while losing a little detail in darker areas, are vivid and lifelike.
The ink cartridges are available in two capacities, with the XL versions offering 2,500 ISO black pages and 1,600 ISO colour. At current prices, they give page costs of 1.8p for black and 5.7p for colour. The black cost is identical to Epson's, though the colour cost is around 0.7p per page higher.
Don’t get us wrong, the Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 is a robust office inkjet, which includes all the essentials for a machine aimed at the SOHO market. It’s fast (except for duplex), prints well and is cheap to run. Unfortunately for Lexmark, so are Epson’s WorkForce Pro WP-4535DWF and HP’s Officejet Pro 8600, both of which are roughly half the price of this machine. In these tight times, the company may have to rethink its pricing.