If you expect to command $400 for an inkjet printer, then you’d better deliver the goods — and Lexmark does with its top-of-the-line OfficeEdge Pro5500. The Pro5500 performs like a laser printer, shattering the stereotype that inkjets lack speed and clarity. Frankly, we’ve never seen an inkjet move this fast.
Prints Like a Champ in Typical Business Scenarios
In our tests, the Pro5500 printed plain, black-and-white text documents at a blistering 19 pages per minute (ppm) on average. Things slowed down slightly when we added comments, tables, and multiple columns, but even the most complex monochrome documents spat out at a respectable 12 ppm.
Color documents printed slower than black-and-white ones (as expected), but the Pro5500 still kept pace with more expensive color laser printers. It printed text files with colorful boxes, graphs, or pictures mixed in with text at a relatively brisk 10 ppm. Naturally, fewer colorful elements result in faster print times, and vice versa. “Torture tests” using vibrant full-page pictures produced average print speeds of 3 to 4 ppm.
The Pro5500 supports doubled-sided printing, but it slows down considerably to do so. For example, a PDF we tested printed out single-sided at 8 ppm, which slowed to 3 ppm in “duplex” mode.
In all cases, the print quality was good to great. Text appeared very crisp, even in smaller 6- to 8-point fonts. Pictures reproduced clearly overall, too, but the OfficeEdge Pro5500 had a few small color issues: It slightly over-whitened whites, slightly over-darkened everything else, and images appeared a bit washed out and grainy. It’ll hold up like a champ for normal business use, but if you want to print your wedding pictures, look elsewhere.
The ink cartridges included with the OfficeEdge Pro5500 are beasts. We printed hundreds and hundreds of pages and barely tapped the reserves. Kudos to Lexmark for not skimping on this front. The price per page for replacement cartridges is reasonable, too, especially for the high-yield varieties. Standard (500 page) color cartridges cost $22; high yield (1,600 page) cartridges cost $34. (Note that you’ll need separate yellow, cyan, and magenta cartridges.) Black is cheaper, at $26 for 625 pages and $36 for 2,500 pages. That’s good, because this printer’s built for burden, with a monthly duty cycle rating of 30,000 pages.
Scans and Copies Quickly, Too
Those fast speeds and impressive results carry over to the Pro5500′s scanning and copying features. The multifunction device scanned or copied 10 pages of black-and-white documents in about 53 seconds with the default settings. Ten-page documents with colorful pictures and graphs mixed in took about 10 seconds longer. Scanning a vibrant, full-page color photo at the default 300 dpi resolution clocked in at 15 seconds. The same picture scanned in 33 seconds when the resolution was upped to the maximum 1,200 dpi. Unfortunately, the same small image-quality flaws noted above also appeared in scanned pictures.
We really liked the ABBYY FineReader optical character-recognition technology that comes with the Pro5500′s Windows software, which allows you to save scanned pages as editable text documents. The OCR technology worked absolutely flawlessly in our testing, achieving a 100 percent accuracy rate. However, we ran into page-formatting errors when we tried to save a multicolumn page with a few screenshots as a document, although the text itself still read correctly.
The ability to save scanned files to a flash drive or send them via email are nice touches, too. The OfficeEdge Pro5500 also supports faxing, but we didn’t extensively test that function.
Other Features: Connectivity and Paper Capacity
The device’s bright, 4.3 inch-color touchscreen worked flawlessly and made selecting options a breeze. Setup is similarly painless: Connectivity options abound, thanks to an Ethernet port, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a SD/MS/xD/MMC multicard slot, and Wi-Fi capability. The superb step-by-step setup wizard should do a bang-up job of getting even Luddites up and running in no time. IT types will appreciate that, as well as Lexmark’s universal print driver and PCL/PostScript support.
The Pro5500 holds a lot of paper: The paper tray accommodates 500 pages of legal-size or smaller, while the feeder tray supports up to 50 stacked pages. A detachment on the back reveals the inner feeder mechanisms for duplex documents in case you suffer a misprint, but we printed nearly 400 pages without experiencing a single misfeed, regardless of paper type.
The Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 is the best inkjet printer we’ve used, achieving laser printer-type speeds and excellent clarity while offering a bevy of useful (and user-friendly) features. If your business needs a fast, flexible all-in-one printing solution, we recommend the Pro5500.