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Computerized Investing > July 2, 2011

Lexmark Platinum Pro905

PRINT | | | | COMMENTS (1) | A A   Reset

by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

I have reviewed a number of different devices in this column over the last year, but I have never looked at a printer. A couple of months ago my HP Inkjet gave up the ghost, and I had to get a new printer for my office. Since I do a lot of scanning and copying, I bought my first all-in-one (AIO) printer, the Lexmark Platinum Pro905. With this machine I can print, copy, scan and fax, so it is intended for more office-centric use. The printer also includes a duplexer for printing on both sides of a page and a 50-page automatic document feeder that can handle paper sizes up to legal. The printer also supports direct printing of pictures from cameras and memory cards and picture previewing on the impressive front panel touch screen. You can connect to the printer by USB cable, Ethernet or Wi-Fi. It supports Windows and Mac.

Having gotten through the setup process I am mainly happy with the results thus far. A few minor quirks have surfaced, but they are more annoyances than serious issues.

Setup

The Platinum Pro905 has one of the most involved setup processes of any printer I have used, and this was just to get it ready for printing. First you need a space big enough to accommodate the 12.1" × 18.3" × 15.4" printer. After unpacking the printer and setting it up with the separate second paper tray, you next have to install the print heads (the ones that shipped with my printer were defective and needed to be replaced) and then install the individual ink cartridges (four in all).

To guide you through the setup process, the printer ships with a CD offering on-screen instructions. For me this wasn’t a big deal, since the printer is sitting next to my desk. Still, I had to shift my attention back and forth between my computer screen and the printer. Since you can also set up the printer on a network, there is the real possibility that your computer could be some distance from where the printer actually is.

After about 30 minutes I had the printer put together and installed on my office network.

Print Speed & Quality

Once I got the printer set up, I have been generally pleased with the quality of the output. This was after I had to order replacement print heads; with the print heads that came with the printer, the banding was terrible when printing black and blue. Once I replaced the print heads, I have only noticed banding on graphics-intensive output. That being said, print quality is comparable to that of other inkjets I have used in the past. Text prints very clearly and graphics are more than good enough for those not looking for true photo quality. The printer more than holds its own for my office printing needs.

One of my biggest complaints with the Platinum Pro905 is that often, after several pages have printed, a page will roll up as it is coming out of the printer. This leads to wrinkled pages or output that is out of order. I have found other reviewers running into this problem. Lexmark’s prescribed solution is to adjust the paper-receiver tray to letter instead of legal, but this has not worked for me. As a result, if I am printing several pages, I need to stay by my printer to make sure the pages don’t become a jumbled mess.

Scanning & Copying

Scanning quality is quite good with the Pro905. Furthermore, the process is relatively quick and quiet. Scanning or copying text-only documents takes about 25 seconds per page in Best mode. Adding graphics to the mix, the scan and print time is about 15 seconds per page in the lower-quality Normal mode.

Photocopying results were also quite good. I was impressed with the quality of the color copies, which had very little color distortion. Furthermore, the copy/print speeds were less than 30 seconds per page, even with graphics.

Cost of Printing

As many of us know, printer ink is a valuable commodity, so it pays to be aware of the cost of operating a printer. According to Lexmark, the Pro905 costs $0.01 per black and white page and $0.10 per color page. Since most office printing is often in black and white, the savings over time could be considerable.

Ordering ink for the Pro905 can be a little confusing. There are two high-capacity black cartridges for the Lexmark Pro series of printers—the 100XL and 105XL. Both have a 510-page printing capacity, but the 105XL costs some 80% less than its twin. It is important to keep in mind that the $0.01 price per black-and-white page is based off the price of the cheaper black cartridge.

SmartSolutions

Since the Pro905 offers Web connectivity, Lexmark has come up with what it calls SmartSolutions—web apps that boost the functionality of the printer. You can add up to six SmartSolutions to your printer through the dedicated website on your computer. The process is a little convoluted, but in the end you can add apps that offer printing shortcuts or those that allow you to view web-based content on the 4.3-inch front panel LCD touch screen, such as headlines from MSBNC. The Pro905 has been around for nearly two years, so I was a little disappointed by the selection of “solutions” that are currently available.

Miscellany

Since my last inkjet printer just stopped working one day, I am a little more sensitive than I have been in the past when it comes to warranties. The Pro905 comes with a five-year warranty if you register it with Lexmark within 90 days of buying the printer (otherwise it is a one-year warranty). If any problems you are having cannot be resolved over the phone, Lexmark will ship you a replacement along with a return shipping label for you to return the old printer. All of this is paid for by Lexmark.

The printer also has media slots to accommodate MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, SD Card, and xD-Picture Card, and you can print directly from media cards.

Final Verdict

As the Lexmark Platinum Pro905 is the first all-in-one printer I have ever used, it is hard for me to draw comparisons. So I have to rely simply on my experience with the Platinum Pro905. Overall, I am pleased with the results. While the setup was a little tedious, the printer has worked almost flawlessly since. While the paper output problem is annoying, that does not take away too much from the fact that the printer offers high-quality printing at a very reasonable cost per page. Throw in the impressive five-year warranty, and you have a small office printer for printing, copying, scanning and faxing that is worthy of strong consideration.

Lexmark Platinum Pro905

http://www1.lexmark.com/US/en/catalog/product.jsp;jsessionid=D8E05350679DA4F4326FBED096F30948.site_node3?tab=rating&prodId=5474

$399.99 (currently $250.21 from Amazon.com)

Pros

  • Cheap ink
  • Five-year warranty
  • Good quality scanning and copying

Cons

  • Set-up somewhat tedious
  • Paper tends to roll up under itself as it ejects from the printer

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


Discussion

Craig from WA posted over 3 years ago:

Have owned this for over a year now and find it to be a cost saver on the B & W printing with a convienent duplex feature. I started with it as a USB connected printer (master/ slave network) and switched to wireless. Switching set ups is a bigger pain than the initial set up so I suggest one think out carefully how you want this configured. I initially feared setting it up as a wired networked printer and should not have. I found it impossible to change from the USB to a straight wired network on my own but found swithching to wireless easy (windows 7).
My favorite thing about networked it is the ease of scanning something and sending it to any linked computer. Next is the cost of black ink which is significant but the colored ink is as expensive as all others. You have to adjust the print setting to best to get a good readable print quality and really take advantage of the black cartridge. The dupexer is a time saver for me but can jam easily if the paper is not perfect or the thickness is larger than normal without adjustments. But it is easy to clear jammed paper.
Occasionally there are network issues but all have been related to the computers (three in the network) not the printer.
If it could print on a CD it would be perfect for me.


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