The Lexmark Intuition S505 is an multi-function colour inket printer with scanning and copying facilities
Laser printers may finally be coming of age, but judging by the vast array of models in Lexmark's new range, there continues to be a good market for quality colour inkjets. Indeed, while a number of laser printers are now beginning to flirt with low double-digit price tags, many new inkjets are homing in on the £150 mark. This Lexmark Intuition S505 isn't quite that expensive, but it's only going to miss by around £9. So what do you get for such a tag?
Well, today's inkjets are beginning to resemble Swiss Army penknives. The Lexmark Intuition S505 has an array of features to keep both photo enthusiasts and home office users happy. The latter may be attracted to the duplex facilities, and while there's no Ethernet support, the printer does connect wirelessly using 802.11b/g - although to be fair Lexmark led the way over two years ago in kitting out all its models with Wi-Fi.
Photo enthusiasts may also wish to make use of this wireless option, although they'll probably prefer the clear 2.4in LCD screen, and the versatile memory card drive (supporting most common formats, from Sony Memory Stick to Secure Digital and xD Picture).
In addition, the Lexmark Intuition S505 is multifunction scanner and copier too, and the 100-page auto-sheet feed is a nice complement to these facilities. The scanner produces bright results, with reasonable colour fidelity.
Separate ink tanks are provided, and there's also a three-year warranty - most manufacturers offer just one year with, so we have to give full marks to Lexmark here.
Traditionally, Lexmark has tended to fare well on features, but has fallen down on actual performance. There are definite signs that the firm is upping the quality of its print facilities, and the Lexmark Intuition S505 is actually very respectable. It's not flawless though, and it's certainly not as fast as you might wish for given the price. Up to 33ppm is blithely promised by Lexmark, but even in the fastest text mode, we could only coax a maximum of 12.5ppm.
Mind you, in contrast to the Epson printers, the Lexmark Intuition S505's lowest quality setting is still very usable, with characters rendered cleanly compared to the competition. In fact, 7.7ppm is possible in the middle quality mode, and here the Lexmark Intuition S505's characters are dark and well-formed - if lacking the crisp clarity of a laser.
The Best mode sees a slight improvement again, although the dawdling rate of 2.4ppm is likely to put many off.
The auto duplex feature is a bit of a damp squib. In the case of the Quick Print mode, the pages per minute figure fell from 12.5ppm to just 6.3ppm, while in Normal mode they fall from 7.7ppm to 3.8ppm. Since the duplex feature of the Lexmark Intuition S505 almost doubles the time, it's likely to prove too big a payoff for many. Patient home users happy to go away and return to collect the job later may be less concerned.
The Lexmark Intuition S505 shines when printing colour graphics to normal paper, even if it's not as impressive on special photo paper. Used with normal media, the fast mode of 6ppm produces light and slightly banded, though still attractive results. In the Normal mode, images fizz with vibrant colour.
There's very light banding, although you have to look hard to make it out, and the overall results are very eye-catching. The Best mode of the Lexmark Intuition S505drops to well under a page a minute, and the colours here are a little lighter but extremely well formed and realistic.
On photo paper, though, the prints lack that little extra life that you expect the quality of the media to add.
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