The Lexmark P inkjet photo printer.Despite what marketing hype might have you believe it's rare that a new product not only improves on previous models but also introduces something a little different. This certainly applies to printers so from time to time I'm going to use this column to spotlight some of the more unusual and interesting models that might turn up in your local computer store.
I'll kick off my product watch by taking a look at Lexmark's $ P an inkjet printer for byinch photos that is the first to include an integrated CD burner.
No PC Needed!
The P is designed to be used as a standalone device for printing organizing and storing your photos. As such it can't connect to your PC at all which is a bit of a shame. Still the intention is that you can use the printer to store images onto CDR discs or a USB key or thumb drive. Thankfully the CD burner lets you write to the same CDR disc multiple times until it's full.
The P supports only JPEG photos but there are multiple means to queue them up for print. You can use a CDROM disc a USB key the directprint (PictBridge) port compatible with most digital cameras or the printer's builtin media card reader slots. These slots support Compact Flash MultiMediaCard SecureDigital (SD) Smart Media Memory Stick and XD Picture Card by default plus Mini SD and Memory Stick Duo via optional adapters. Another option is a Bluetooth adapter to let you print photos directly from a Bluetoothequipped (and likely cameraequipped) cell phone.
The P also has a compositevideo TVoutput connection and slideshow mode so that you can connect the printer to a TV and view photos. Click on the thumbnail photo below to see this capability:
The P printer can display photos on a TV that it's hooked up to.
Out of the Box
The P uses a single threecolor ink cartridge (one $ standardyield cartridge is bundled) to print borderless photos in sizes by inches A Hagaki card or L all at up to dots per inch. Lexmark claims that if you use its $ by Photo Printing Kit ( sheets of photo paper and a highyield print cartridge) you can achieve up to prints for $; that's roughly cents per photo.
I found that with no PC connection to make no software to install only a single ink cartridge to click into place and an automatic alignment mode setting up this printer was a breeze. And it was just as easy to operate with the help of a pareddown number of control buttons and a .inch popup color LCD display offering logical menu navigation.
Given that you're not able to hook this printer up to a computer I definitely appreciated the ability to perform simple touchup tasks as you select each photo you wish to print. Basic editing options include rotating degrees cropping and zooming redeye removal image enhancement and color effects (gray scale sepia antique brown and antique gray). All adjustments are previewed on the display.
You can also print photos in three quality modes: photo (maximum) normal or draft.
The P's performance appeared to be a little sluggish in my informal tests. Printing from a USB key took a little under minutes for each photo while prints from a CDROM or media card took about the same time or just a bit longer.
Only a few photos had some uninvited edge cropping and overall I'd say the photo quality and colors were in the fairtogood range. The photos initially appeared slightly mottled and needed time to dry and even then they were prone to smudging by sweaty fingers.
Put to the right task I don't believe that the integrated CD burner is a gimmick nor is the unit's compositevideo TVoutput connection and slideshow mode. For instance the CD burner could be particularly useful for an event such as a wedding as it would allow guests to leave with a CD of photos from the big day.
Similarly the TV output feature could let guests select their own favorite snaps. When I tried out this function for myself it worked like a charm and alllike everything else with this printerwithout the need for a PC.