Lexmark Z815 and X5250, X2250 All-in-one

Introduction

Lexmark is well-known for its inkjet printers that cost barely more than the ink inside them. We looked at two all-in-one printer scanners and Lexmark’s most expensive photo printer that tips the scales at £79.

Lexmark printers are cheap, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some nice features. The Z815 is the top Lexmark printer, and it boasts features such as automatic cartridge alignment and automatic paper-type sensing. That means that you’ll never print with the wrong paper settings. Lexmark claims the Z815 can print 20 mono or 14 colour pages per minute, though this should be taken with a pinch of salt. Inkjet printers usually don’t have onboard processing; they use your computer’s processor instead. This means that if a printer is plugged into an original iMac it will print a lot slower that if it was plugged into a dual-2GHz G5. For this reason we choose not to publish print speeds for inkjet printers in Macworld; the tests wouldn’t be repeatable. Generally the print speed wasn’t noticeably faster or slower for an inkjet printer.

Quality matters
Print quality seems only average, unless the optional photo-cartridge is installed. This replaces the black cartridge to give a total of six colours with which to print. Even with the photo cartridge and the auto-sensing feature full-colour pages tended to wrinkle due to the amount of ink soaking the paper. The prints are initially a bit sticky to the touch until they dried properly. Once dry and unwrinkled the results are actually quite good, and on glossy paper grain is almost invisible.

Lexmark are claiming a 50-year life for the prints when using Lexmark paper. While Lexmark says this is the result of an independent test, the testing methods aren’t clear. Lexmark doesn’t use the industry standard for these tests, which is to use Wilhelm Imaging Research (www.wilhelm-research.com). Using other tests means they can’t be directly compared with the standard tests, so have little value.

The two all-in-one printers look only slightly different; the X5250 is slightly smarter with a silver grey lid. The cheaper X2250 is a four-colour printer, while the X5250 can use the photo cartridge that enables six-colour printing. In four-colour mode, both printers have the same level of quality, which is a bit grainy. When the X5250 is in photo print mode, the results are a similar quality to the Z815.

The scanner bed lets you use the machine as a colour photocopier. This is a handy feature, and the results are quick. Using the scanner to scan to an image file was less successful. It seems like there’s some image correction happening, either in the hardware or software. The problem is that the “correction” actually makes the image oversaturated and generally worse. This isn’t the case when making copies, and the X5250 is slightly better at scanning, but neither could be described as acceptable results.

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