Lexmark is looking to make the Mac redundant with its latest compact photo printer, the P450. This device not only prints 6 x 4 inch images direct from a camera, mobile phone or memory card – in fact anything but a computer – it also includes a CD burner to allow you to archive your images.
This may sound like a great idea, but we think the fundamental premise behind a device like this is flawed. It feels as if Lexmark has come up with what is an original concept, but failed to think through whom it would appeal to. We can’t understand why computer connectivity has been omitted. While there are plenty of ways to get images off devices, including a Bluetooth option, PictBridge and memory card slots, the only way to archive images is onto CD.
Most printers with memory card slots allow you to download pictures to your Mac, with its tens of gigabytes of storage and specialised image-management software. So who would want to save their images to CD? Equally, while a device such as this makes it easy to print images you have just taken, what about all the images you already have saved on your Mac.
However, the conceptual flaws of this device may be forgivable if it did its primary function well, which is printing images. Sadly, Lexmark has never been synonymous with high-quality photo output and the P450 is no exception. Colour accuracy is good, but the images are lacking in clarity and show considerable banding and noise. Print time is 2 minutes 46 seconds for a borderless 6 x 4 inch photo, which is reasonable but a little slow.
In its favour, the P450 is clearly designed with novice users in mind. As there is no need to connect to a computer you can set it up and be printing in just a few minutes. The menu system is very easy to use and visually appealing, with a good-sized screen. It can be used to browse the images on your camera or memory card and even apply basic image-editing functions to them. You can also use it to copy images onto a CD-R or USB flash memory device.
Our advice is to save your money. The combination of a Mac, a decent photo printer and a USB card reader will do a better job than this printer could ever hope to. That said, it is the only device that allows you to both save and print images without a computer. It might be worth recommending to your mum if she’s just bought a digital camera, as it’s simple to use and adequate for an undemanding novice.