- Review Price: £142.00
Lexmark has a knack of producing well designed printers and multi-function devices at very reasonable prices, which are just right for their intended market in nearly all respects. Unfortunately, the missing link has always been print quality. So can the P6250, the company’s latest photo-quality all-in-one, break the mould and provide all you need for printing, copying and scanning for under £150?
First impressions are very positive. The cream and ice-blue case is about the same size as a typical desktop PC case and features a 67mm colour LCD display. This screen is used to display Lexmark’s well-organised menus and help control the all-in-one from the front panel. You navigate with a jog-dial and Select and Cancel buttons – all very straightforward and simple.
The screen can also be used to display thumbnails of images from memory cards – which you can plug into its seven-format card reader – or any PictBridge-enabled camera. While not as versatile as HP’s proof sheet, where you can select pictures for printing by checking boxes with a pencil, the P6250 can print you a thumbnail sheet and you can then select images by flicking through them on screen.
The flat-bed scanner is a contact-image device, so it’s suitable for scanning paper only, but it does a fair job at this, with a top optical resolution of 1,200 by 2,400ppi. A nice touch is the cool-blue, illuminated corner strip to the glass, showing you where to position your original for scanning.
Lift the top section of the P6250 up and a bonnet-strut support pops into place to hold it up. You can then get at the two ink cartridge carriers. These take a three-colour cartridge and either a three-colour photo or a solid black one – the latter is available in two yield levels. The colour and photo cartridges are supplied with the machine, but you have to buy the black one as an extra. Once locked into place, the machine aligns the two cartridges automatically, printing an alignment sheet as it does so.
Being a multifunction device, and a photo-orientated one at that, the P6250 comes with quite a bit of software. There’s the All-in-One Centre, which offers easy access to a series of common tasks, such as transferring images to your PC from the card reader or scanner, sending images via email and, of course, viewing and printing them. The Image Centre is a fairly simple picture editor, offering mainstream functions such as colour, lightness and sharpness adjustments and sepia and black-and-white filters.
Print quality is very patchy. Our test photo image reproduced well, with good detail in shadows and clean transitions from dark to light tints in areas of sky. Lexmark now markets its own glossy photo paper, where before it relied first on Kodak and then Ilford as third-party suppliers. Perhaps a new formulation of surface layer on its own paper has improved reproduction quality.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for text and graphics on regular office paper. Text looks crude and jagged, particularly at smaller point sizes, and there are plenty of unpleasant printing attributes, such as feathers were ink has run into the paper nap, and positional displacements, where the paper hasn’t fed smoothly. Areas of colour fill aren’t completely smooth and have a slight flecking, where the white of the paper shows through.
Print speeds are reasonable, though as usual nowhere near the claimed figures. Lexmark is honest enough to quote speeds for normal print, rather than draft, but a speed of 17 pages per minute doesn’t compare very well with the six pages per minute we measured. We saw around two pages per minute for our text and colour graphics page and just over two minutes for a 5 x 3in top quality colour photo.
Using high-yield cartridges, which give the best economy, we printed 534 copies of our black test page, around 10 per cent more than Lexmark claims. This produces a cost per five per cent black page of 3.09p.This is in the middle of the field of ink-jet costs measured recently. Unless your printing needs are very modest, buy the high-yield cartridge, as the standard yield one is rated at only 200 pages.
Colour yield tests produced a very impressive 608 pages before we started to see banding. This equates to a cost per page of 41.1p, which is not that good, but over 30p of that is the cost of Lexmark’s photo paper. If you can find a cheaper paper source, the overall cost would drop dramatically.
In the end, the P6250 is still a triumph of presentation over function. If Lexmark could bring the same flair to its core ink-jet technology that it does to the design of the controls and features of this machine, it would have a winning combination.
Score in detail
Print Speed 8
Print Quality 6