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The Lexmark P707 is a low-slung inkjet photo printer with a shiny, metal-like plastic front cover surrounded by two complementary shades of lightly textured, dark, fingerprint-proof plastic. The control panel, above and to the right of the front cover, consists of a pair of buttons set in a silver, plastic ellipse; one is the Power button/light, the other is the paper-feed button.
The P707's camera card-memory slots--for CompactFlash Types I and II, IBM Microdrive, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and SmartMedia--are housed within a card-reader station that protrudes from the right side of the printer. Below that and underneath the front cover is an interestingly shaped, but flimsy and wobbly paper-exit tray.
So far, so good.
However, unlike many currently popular inkjet photo printers, the Lexmark P707 does not use individual ink cartridges. Instead, the P707 ships with two three-color cartridges. One is a cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMY) color tank, and the other is a photo-ink tank with pale cyan, pale magenta, and black ink.
If you don't want to use up the small supply of black ink in the photo cartridge printing text, there's an optional process-black cartridge for text-only documents. We found that the black-ink cartridge sped up the overall printing process with no discernible loss of photo-image quality. Unfortunately, a high-yield black-ink cartridge from Lexmark costs almost half as much as the printer itself ($44.99); a regular-yield black cartridge is $28.99.
Installing either configuration of ink cartridges is not painful at all. Nor is setting up and connecting the P707 to your Mac or PC, as long as you either have a spare USB cable for it or had the foresight to buy one with the printer. The software and the drivers load quickly and easily, and after it prints a calibration page, the P707 is ready to use.
The set of standard camera card-memory readers and the Memory Card Manager utility that controls them stand out as solid features within the P707. Unfortunately, the P707 doesn't offer an LCD panel for viewing photos directly, nor is it a standalone photo printer: the P707 must be connected to a computer, even if you're using the card readers. Once the P707 is connected to a PC or Macintosh machine and its drivers and software are installed, place a digital camera's memory card into the appropriate slot to activate the Memory Card Manager on the computer's desktop.
With one mouse click, the Memory Card Manager utility automatically copies and saves all of the photos on the camera's storage card to a default folder on the computer. Or, you can preview your pictures one by one, rotating and naming the images before saving them to disc.
The Lexmark Photo Center lets you choose from many possible page layouts (we counted 94, plus Custom), plus it gives you options for quickly printing 4x6 photos, printing a thumbnail index, and setting up a slide show on your computer monitor. The Lexmark Photo Editor, a clunky but viable collection of photo-enhancement tools, includes tools for rotating, cropping, resizing, adjusting colors, removing red-eye, and adding text to any photo. The P707's drivers provide a variety of standard printing options, accommodating both inexperienced users and old hands.
Depending on the pair of cartridges used, the Lexmark P707 can print either at a deadly slow pace or at a reasonably slow pace. In CNET Labs tests on text printing, with the black-ink cartridge instead of the included photo-ink cartridge, the P707 printed text at 4.19 pages per minute (ppm), almost as fast as the Epson Stylus C84's 4.6ppm but slower than the Canon i475D's 5.6ppm. In CNET Labs tests, using the Lexmark-recommended setup of one color-ink tank with the photo-ink tank, the P707 took almost 30 minutes to print an 8x10-inch color photograph on photo paper in Best mode. But with a black-ink cartridge installed in place of the photo cartridge and with the printer set in Normal mode, the P707 reproduced the same document with little sacrifice in photo quality in a much speedier 2.8 minutes per page (mpp), better than the Canon i475D's 3.2mpp and almost as fast the Epson C84's 2.6mpp.
The Lexmark P707 was equally inconsistent in CNET's quality tests. Color graphics and text printed on coated inkjet paper appeared pale but sharp-edged and were free of dithering, banding, or other printer-induced glitches. Photos printed by the P707 (using the color cartridge and the optional black-ink cartridge instead of the included photo-ink cartridge) showed better contrast values and good colors but were slightly reddish upon close inspection and were full of tiny speckles. Photos printed with the color cartridge in tandem with the photo cartridge had severely faded yellows and looked gray and lifeless.
|Inkjet printer text speed (Longer bars indicate better performance)|
|Inkjet color-photo speed test (Shorter bars indicate better performance)|
|Laser printer quality|
The Lexmark P707 photo printer is automatically covered for one year by a warranty called LexExpress. The difference with this warranty is that if Lexmark's technicians cannot solve the problem, Lexmark will ship you an exchange printer within two business days. Lexmark's technical-support center offers free and toll-free technical support, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET. You can purchase additional warranties from Lexmark for the P707, including onsite-repair and exchange programs.
Lexmark includes a helpful Solution Center as part of the P707's software package. The Solution Center provides instructions for troubleshooting and maintaining the printer, as well as solutions to basic problems such as paper jams and incorrect-output problems. There's also an electronic guide within the Solutions Center with a comprehensive list of how-tos and troubleshooting topics. For even more information about the P707, Lexmark includes a 73-page user guide on the installation CD-ROM. The Lexmark Web site provides further assistance in the form of a searchable knowledge base and e-mail support.