Users who encounter such problems should call Lexmark's inkjet printer support line on 0207 365 2496 (UK customers only). Once the nature of the problem has been established, eligible users will be sent replacement print heads and a complimentary set of cartridges.
Following continuing issues with print heads and print quality, the Lexmark inkjet printers reviewed on DigitalVersus have had their overall score reduced to two stars as of 11/08/2011 and until a suitable solution can be found.
The S505 is the very model of what we expect in a good quality, up-to-date printer: it's a winning combination of recent technological advances without too many unnecessary extras. It comes with separate cartridges for each colour ink, which are very efficient to run when you use the XL versions, it does double-sided printing and has WiFi.
These last two features are very useful, and WiFi works perfectly from one room to the next or between the floors of a building. Double-sided printing allows you to save paper, although it does slow down printing.
One step down, Lexmark also offers the S305, which doesn't have double-sided printing or a colour screen (which is no great loss). The next model up, the S605 has even more winning features: the display is a touchscreen and provides access to smart functions like automatic document archiving or printing photos stored online.
On the other hand, the printing quality and the speeds available are identical across all three models. That's why this test is just a short overview: you can find out more by reading the test of the S605.
Lexmark has really stepped things up a gear compared to its previous generations of printers. With 10 pages per minute in colour, almost 15 ppm in black and white, this is a fast printer--once it gets going, anyway. Unfortunately, you're not likely to enjoy such speedy printing, which only comes into its own on long documents. For one or two pages, though the printer seems much slower, because of the long wait to print the first page.
Energy and noise consumption
While printing, the S505 is very quiet, producing just 47.5 dB on our photo test and 58 dB while working on a text document.
The energy consumption is also held in check: 15 W while active (compared to 25 W for the majority of other inkiest, and 350-1200 W for laser printers). The only snag is that it still uses 3 W while on standby. That isn't much, but why can't it be under 1 W?
Overall, the quality of printed documents is very good. The results are accurate, with clear, sharp characters, but we have two tips.
First of all, make sure you don't grab office documents straight away, especially if you have clammy palms. The black ink doesn't dry quickly enough, and still comes off weeks later in some cases, so you can wind up obscuring text.
Secondly, for photo mode, it's best to specify exactly what paper stock you're using. There is an automatic mode, but we didn't like it and it produced some very odd colours. Once you tell it what paper you're using--we followed Lexmark's recommendation and used PerfectPhoto Finish papers--then the results were excellent, and much better than the results that we were used to.
Scanner and copier
Once again, Lexmark has improved the speed and quality on offer. A prescan takes just over five seconds, and a full scan of 4 x 6'' photo at 300 dpi takes 15 seconds. That's better than average, and the result is reasonably faithful to the original, despite a small tendency towards red tones.
The copier function struggles because of the time it takes to produce the first page. A single black-and-white page takes just over 21 seconds while a colour copy is ready in 30 seconds.
Cost per page
Lexmark has two different versions of its cartridges: standard (cheap to buy but without much ink) and XL (more expensive but with much more stamina). Go for the XL cartridges every time, as they can halve your running costs in some cases.
The tables below use the recommended pricing from Lexmark, but you can make even more savings if you buy online.
||Cost per page
|100 cyan||£8.11||200||4.1 p|
|100 magenta||£8.11||200||4.1 p|
|100 yellow||£8.11||200||4.1 p|
Using the normal cartridges, you end up with a total cost per page of 19.9 p.
||Cost per page
|100XL black||£20.28||510||4.0 p|
|100XL cyan||£14.58||600||2.4 p|
|100XL magenta||£14.58||600||2.4 p|
|100XL yellow||£14.58||600||2.4 p|
With the XL cartridges, the total cost per page will be 11.2 p if you use the recommended prices, but you could easily reduce that by looking online.