Lexmark Portable Photo Printer P315

Tech firms are keen for you to add gadgets to your summer holiday shopping list, none more so than Lexmark with its latest portable photo printer.

"It doesn't make sense that consumers can take their digital cameras anywhere, but they have to wait until they get back to their home to enjoy their prints," says Giovanni Giusti, general manager of Lexmark UK.

The P315 is designed to change all this. Lexmark advertises it as a truly portable printer. With on board editing features that work standalone dumping the need to connect the printer to a computer. It is PictBridge compatible and prints standard 6x4 borderless images directly from the following memory cards: CompactFlash Type I & II, Microdrive, MultiMedia Card, Secure Digital Memory Stick (MS, Pro, Duo), Smart Media and xD format. Cost per print is around 24p using Lexmark's consumables.

Printing time for a 6x4 image is about 2 minutes, with quite a noise as the thermal process transforms photo paper into the finished picture

We are not sure about the portable claim. It may have a handle, which makes it easy to carry around, but the P315 is mains operated without the option to attach a battery, which rules out printing on the beach. It can be operated anywhere, as long as anywhere has an electrical socket.

It is also quite large compared to other portable photo printers. The P315 has none of the compactness of Canon's Selphy range of portable photo printers, and Canon boasts the option of battery power. Of course, Lexmark's P315 is very competitively priced compared to Canon's premium Selphy range.

How does the low price point of Lexmark's machine affect the quality of prints? We were satisfied with our prints although colours lacked brightness. Our disappointment was more with the odd, slim borders left blank on 6x4 prints. The P315 uses thermal inkjet to print, which takes a while longer than dye- sublimation and produces prints that we have found are susceptible to marks. A drop of water washes off the image whereas prints from our Canon photo printer, which lays down colours in layers, have been water resistant in our tests.

Lexmark's consumables are not as price competitive as its machines. If you are planning on printing a lot of photos then it may be worth paying more for the machine and less for consumables. Canon's photo printers give much better quality photos and prints using the company's paper and ink kits cost around 22p per print.

The LCD screen on our review model was loosely fitted which meant we could not adjust it to view photos. This may have been a fault on our machine but is worth checking before you buy.

Verdict

We rate the P315 as an inexpensive photo printer, handy to have tucked away somewhere in your home. If it were a car, it would be a VW Beetle. As a portable photo printer, we don't think though that it competes because of its size and lack of a battery pack.


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