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Lexmark PrinTrio P3150 review: Lexmark PrinTrio P3150

Lexmark PrinTrio P3150

Dan Littman
4 min read
Review summary
Lexmark's PrinTrio P3150 has its feet in two worlds. It can copy, scan, print, and read digital camera flash-memory cards like most multifunction printers, but you have to run Lexmark's software on your computer to accomplish these tasks. Another anomaly: The P3150 surprised CNET by producing outstanding text, but Lexmark doesn't include a black ink cartridge in the box. This dichotomy of clear thinking and confusion permeates the product. Overall, the P3150 is not a great multifunction printer, but for $99, it's so affordable that it's a good choice if you're on a tight budget and have simple needs. The P3150's angular edges and sloping sides give the 10-by-23.3-by-15.2-inch (W, D, H) multifunction printer an attractive modern-architecture look. We also like that the input tray folds down flat and that the output tray slides completely underneath when the device is idle. Another convenience is the removable scanner lid, which makes it possible to scan and copy bulky documents. However, the scanner glass is tilted enough so that small or lightweight documents slide across the glass.
The scanner bed lifts up five inches and locks with a rigid arm to replace ink cartridges, but getting your hands inside is a tight fit. The P3150 uses three ink cartridges but only two at a time: the basic three-color cartridge and either a black or photo ink cartridge.
The P3150 doesn't have an LCD or onboard menus, which explains why you'll need your PC to print from flash-memory cards. The slots on the front of the P3150 support CompactFlash I and II, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Microdrive cards. The PrinTrio P3150's software (for both PC and Mac) directs all scanning, copying, and printing. Several different applications and utilities provide most of the basic features you'll need. The central All-In-One application has two windows; the first, called Main Page, lets you initiate scans and copies and set their color depth and resolution, adjust sharpness, and so on; it can also autocrop an image, eliminate moiré patterns, or send scans to other applications on your computer. For example, text pages can go to the bundled Abbyy FineReader OCR package for conversion into live text. Lexmark also bundles BVRP's FaxTools, which can convert a scan into fax format and send it through your computer's fax modem.
All-In-One's other window, Saved Images, includes templates for creating photo albums. Main Page and Saved Images share a set of tools for printing images in poster format, grouping several images on one page, and a few similar features. Other software includes Memory Card Formatter, a utility that prepares new flash-memory cards in the printer's card reader slots, and Memory Card Manager, a separate utility for copying images from cards to your computer. Lexmark's Photo Editor is one of the most basic yet least-capable photo editors we've seen. CNET Labs clocked the P3150's print and copy speeds at somewhere in the middle of the pack and its scans near the head of the pack. It prints text at a bearable 4.3 pages per minute (ppm), just behind the Epson CX6400 but well ahead of HP's PSC 1350, and it prints photos at 4.7 minutes per page (mpp), about three times faster than the HP but only two-thirds of the Epson's speed. It takes 46 seconds to copy a monochrome document, where the Epson requires 19 seconds.
The PrinTrio P3150 excels in one image quality test: it prints text on inkjet paper with near-perfect definition, no shadowing or spatter, with even weighting--in short, it looks almost as good as laser printer output. But color documents on inkjet paper show slight banding throughout and blocky transitions between shades. This printer has a hard time rendering subtle colors in general and makes most colors too bright. When we tested photos on glossy photo paper, we got a dotty texture that interfered with details, and some colors took on a muted earth-tone look, while others became oversaturated.
The P3150's scans were equally middle-of-the-road. It gave color images rough texture and abrupt transitions between shades, while some colors didn't look as rich as they should have. And it posterized grayscale images, reducing the number of shades of gray to convert some highlight areas into solid white and some shadow areas into solid black.
Multifunction printer text speed  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Pages per minute  
Epson CX6400
Lexmark P3150
HP PSC 1350

Multifunction color photo speed test  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Minutes per page  
Epson CX6400
Lexmark P3150
HP PSC 1350
Lexmark provides industry-standard support for the P3150. The one-year warranty comes with toll-free tech support available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. ET. The company pays shipping both ways for repairs. The P3150's printed documentation includes a brief poster that provides enough information to get started and a 60-page manual that gives you an overview of the bundled software and a thorough troubleshooting guide.

Lexmark PrinTrio P3150

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7Support 7