Pretty much out of contention on the technological level in the world of A4 printers, Lexmark needed to make a strong entry into the 4"x6" market. And with the P315, we were pleasantly surprised.
Ergonomics And Design
Don't look for a USB connector on the P315, except for the one that's dedicated to PictBridge connections. The manufacturer has decided to offer a consumer printer aimed at people who don't want to deal with file transfers or driver configuration - the P315 operates completely independently from the computer. It's a surprising choice and it left us skeptical at first, but in actual use we realized that it's not a bad approach - especially since this has made it possible to bring down the basic price, which is among the lowest on the market.
However, along with that independent approach, we'd like to have found a few possibilities for image processing, such as those on the HP Photosmart 375 or the Photo Easy 255. Instead, there is only a simple reframing function that's not all that effective. There's no red-eye correction and no special effects, and files from memory cards or PictBridge-compatible cameras will have to be printed as is. But the quality of the LCD display is excellent, providing a very workable preview of the images. Navigation in the menus is a little slow, however.
In the quality area, the P315 takes full advantage of inkjet technology to render colors very faithfully. This is a pleasant surprise coming from Lexmark, whose A4 inkjet printers are far from matching their competitors. And, despite the absence of black ink, the P315's black-and-white prints are among the best in our test, with only a slightly exaggerated lightening in the white tones.
This printer's excellent quality has an impact on its performance. It took nearly 2 minutes and 30 seconds for the Lexmark to print a 4"x6" photo, which puts it at the rear of the pack among inkjets. Also note that the time for loading files from the memory card is also very long, but we don't take that into account in measuring print speed. Still, it's worth noting that with fairly large files, it can take up to four minutes from the time you choose the photo until you receive the finished print.
Cost Per Print
Where cost per print is concerned, Lexmark uses the same policy as its main competitors, offering ink+paper packs. The one dedicated to the P315 comes with 70 sheets and works out to a cost per photo of 35 cents. We should note, however, that the actual cost is slightly lower, since after having printed 70 photos, we noticed there was still ink in the three-color cartridge, even if the yellow was beginning to run out.
If you're a retouching buff, this printer is not for you. The P315 is intended for novices who just got a digital camera for Christmas or their birthday and don't want to have to hassle with file transfers. And for them, it does a fine job of attaining its objective.