capsule review

Lexmark P350

At a Glance
  • Lexmark P350

    PCWorld Rating

The portable Lexmark P350 is easy to use, easy to carry by its folding handle, and easy on the pocketbook. It lacks the fancier features of its rivals, but it keeps the business of printing snapshots simple. Its molded white plastic case can stand a few knocks, and the budget price of just $130 (as of 11/3/2006) makes this the least expensive portable printer we've seen yet.

To prepare for printing, you flip back the 25-sheet paper tray at the rear, extend the output tray at the front, and flip up the 2.4-inch color LCD. When you insert a digital camera memory card into one of the two media slots, which accept all the major formats, you're ready to browse through your images and choose which to print.

The basic on-screen menus offer simple auto-fix, red-eye reduction, and crop functions, but the P350 lacks more sophisticated effects and borders. The PictBridge-enhanced USB port lets you print directly from a digital camera; it also accepts flash drives as well as third-party Bluetooth adapters for printing from suitably equipped camera phones and handhelds.

A single cartridge holds three pigment-based inks, which Lexmark claims are more resistant to moisture over the long term than the dye-based inks of other inkjet snapshot printers. In two informal moisture tests, we looked for defects after sprinkling water on week-old (and therefore dry) snapshot prints. Then we dunked them in water for 30 seconds and wiped them dry. The P350's prints showed no obvious ill effects after either test.

The printer comes with ink and paper to make 20 prints. Replacement bundles include enough ink and paper for 100 prints. At $29 for the pack, that comes to 29 cents per print.

The P350 is one of the slowest snapshot printers we've evaluated in a while. In our tests black-and-white prints averaged 0.4 pages per minute, while color prints clocked in at an even slower 0.3 ppm--about three times slower than Canon and Epson's latest snapshot printers.

At first glance the prints showed vivid colors, good shadow detail, and smooth tonal changes. But on closer inspection we noticed narrow banding across all the prints, which was especially visible in the darkest areas. Our black-and-white print also exhibited a disturbing green tint.

The printer comes with Lexmark's Fast Pics software to help with printing from your PC. It offers a few image enhancements, including crop, rotate, auto-fix, and red-eye removal. It also assists in transferring images to the PC from memory cards and USB flash drives connected to the printer, but it lacks features for organizing and sharing your photos.

Paul Jasper

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Green-tinged black-and-white print, narrow banding and slow print times make it hard to recommend despite the low price.

    Pros

    • Affordable
    • Tough construction

    Cons

    • Very slow printing
    • Banding hurts print quality
Related:
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.