Part of the initial setup requires you to install the print head and each of the four black, yellow, cyan, and magenta cartridges. While many other manufacturers like Canon include only a two-ink cartridge bay in its budget offerings, Lexmark forges ahead and gives you three individual cartridges plus a separate black cartridge for richer, more realistic snapshots. The printer is also one of many to feature Lexmark's newest Vizix individual ink cartridges. Using the XL capacity cartridges, which offer a better overall value for the page yields, we calculate the price of one page of black ink to cost 5 cents per page and 3 cents per page for color. Both costs are average for a printer at this price.
The Lexmark Impact S305 ships with minimal paperwork to conserve paper, and you can access most of the instructions, warranty information, and promotional offers on the CD included in the box. Along with the drivers that support Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X, the CD also automatically installs several Lexmark productivity programs onto your computer. The Lexmark Toolbar gives you a shortcut bar on top of your Web browser for easy-access printing. Lexmark's Productivity Studio and Imaging Studio programs provide an easy way to auto-edit or crop your photos and include them on a series of creative projects, and the Lexmark Service Center acts as a troubleshooting aid, should you encounter a snag in the printing process. We also enjoyed using the onscreen progress bar that automatically pops up when you print. It shows you the progress of your job in an easy-to-read percentage bar (the LCD on the control panel also shows the progress), displays a graphic representation of your ink depletion and provides a warning when the paper trays are running low.
If you weren't already impressed by the bundled features and ease of use, you'll be confident knowing that the Lexmark Impact S305 laid down total domination in the race for print speed. The best example of the $100 printer's unreal gains over the rest is its 7.31-page-per-minute (PPM) text speed. Next to the $200 HP Officejet J6480's paltry 5.54 PPM, the Impact S305 should start looking more appealing by now, but it's not just the text speed. In fact, the S305 bested the competition in text speed, color graphics speed, single-sheet photo speed, and presentation speed. If all you're looking for is an inexpensive and superfast printer, the Impact S305 deserves your undivided attention.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation Speed (PPM)||Photo Speed (1 Sheet)||Color Graphics Speed (PPM)||Text Speed (PPM)|
We maintain a similar opinion about the S305's print quality. The black text prints aren't lacking at all--in fact, they are close to laser quality, which we've come to expect from Lexmark. Lines appear rich, with a slight hint of wicking that produces a slightly blurred image, but such imperfections are acceptable with inkjet printers, especially ones at this price. We also have few complaints about the quality of color prints and snapshot photos. After closely examining several sample prints, we found all of the 4-inch-by-6-inch photos pointedly reproduced with a strong color gamut and little loss to overall quality.
Service and Support
Lexmark covers the Impact S305 with a generous three-year warranty that includes lifetime priority phone support. The warranty will transfer ownership in case you want to sell the printer within the five years. In addition, the Lexmark Web site's AnswerBase provides a comprehensive list of FAQs, how-tos, dockets with device specifications, warranty extension information, and driver updates. Users having trouble with the printer can contact tech support via live chat or e-mail (Lexmark claims to respond within one business day) from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Finally, Lexmark also offers customer service training in both its printers and general computing at designated authorized locations. Online courses are also available.
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