Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- No PC connection required, multiple media sources, easy interface,
- Numerous adapters needed, Slow printing speed, Slow CD burning
The Lexmark P450 offers home users the convenience of printing from a wide variety of media sources and doesn’t require a PC to use. It is let down by slow printing, slow burning and the cost of additional adapters.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Lexmark's P450 is the first stand-alone Photo Printer we've seen with an in-built CD burner, as well as providing a plethora of connectivity options for the home photographer - all without the use of a PC. Using the P450, you can view or print photos from a memory card, USB flash drive, CD-ROM, directly from a PictBridge enabled camera and back them up onto a CD.
The compactly designed P450 sports a 2.4" colour LCD screen that can be easily angled, so you can use it whilst standing up. Lifting up the screen exposes six buttons that are labelled with icons only. The small paper tray is located at the back, while the card readers, USB port and CD tray are all on the front of the device. At the rear are three additional connections - a power socket, a TV-Out socket for displaying photos on a television and a USB socket for Bluetooth adapters.
Setting up the P450 took us just a few minutes and involved inserting a cartridge and plugging in the power cable. As the P450 is not designed for use with a PC, there are no drivers, software or tutorials to install. The P450 took just a few seconds to startup and displays an intuitive menu interface, consisting of options to View/Print Photos, Print All Photos, Setup Options, View a Slideshow or Burn a CD. On the whole, the interface was both easy to use and navigate, but a quick read of the manual should clear up any questions you may have.
We tested out the used the Lexmark with a variety of image sources, including a USB Flash Drive, a Sony Digital Camera and a CD of images.
As soon as we plugged in our USB flash drive, the P450 immediately picked up the number of images on the drive. Using the arrow keys, we scrolled through the images finding and printing the ones we wanted. It could not have been easier, although it was a little slow at times.
The P450 also allows you to view images directly from memory media including Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MMC, SD and SmartMedia cards. If you purchase an adapter, you can also view images from an xD Picture Card, Memory Stick Duo, Mini SD, RS-MMC or TransFlash. We used a Sony Memory Stick and the P450 operated the same way it had for the USB flash drive.
When we plugged in our Sony N1 (which supports PictBridge), we were able to scroll through the pictures on the camera LCD screen itself and determine which ones to print. For all media types, the P450 allows you to print all the photos or view a slideshow of images if you so choose.
The printer also supports Bluetooth, so you can print from a Bluetooth camera phone. This a handy function as we are seeing many phones now shipping with 2.0 megapixel cameras. The printer doesn't do this natively though, you'll have to purchase a Bluetooth adapter separately. This was the most disappointing element of the printer - while it promised much in functionality, you will have to buy the extra adapters for Bluetooth and memory cards, as well as the TV-Out cable.
One of the commendable things about this printer is the way in which it handles multiple media sources, switching between them with ease. For example, you can also view a slideshow or even copy files from a memory card or CD onto a USB flash drive. Alternatively, you can simply burn photos from your memory card or flash drive onto a CD. Although Lexmark tout this feature as innovative (and it is), it is also remarkably slow - it took us almost 20 minutes to burn just 75 images onto a CD which really doesn't cut it.
The other aspect we liked was the photo editing options available. As you are viewing a photo, you can make basic changes such as enhancing the image quality, reducing red eye, cropping or zooming and adjusting the colour settings. These changes are not made to the originals but rather to the prints only.
We printed out several test shots and on the whole, the print quality was above average. On some outdoors shots, the colours looked a little pale and we recommend using glossy photo paper for best results. The major problem with printing is speed - it took us nearly three minutes to print out each colour photo. Another thing to watch is that the manual feed paper tray is rather flimsy and the photo paper may not always be aligned, resulting in crooked photos. Despite some speed issues, the Lexmak P450 is a solid offering for home users.
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