Such is the frequency at which Lexmark churn out new printers and multi-function devices, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is one of the most rapidly-evolving markets in tech-circles.
No less than eight new models have just been added to its range and the Prevail fits in as a mid-range solution aimed at home and office use featuring a printer, fax, scanner and copier, built-in wireless and a range of useful features.
Lexmark aren’t traditionally known for pushing the boundaries of aesthetic perfection but we were quite impressed by the tidy, compact design and sleek black lines of the Prevail. A main control panel boasts a 2.4-inch colour LCD for accessing settings and viewing photos, PictBridge USB support and a multi-card reader.
Among the most useful features aside from wireless connectivity are an "eco-mode", which dims the backlight, enables power-saving and forces double-sided printing and a dedicated control to switch between full colour and black and white prints. Set-up and general operation is very straightforward and in most cases configuration is possible via the main controls on the device itself.
Lexmark does install its Printer Home software, which offers a range of maintenance tools, advanced scan settings at the ability to convert a document to text using OCR. Otherwise print-settings through applications are kept pretty simple with four degrees of quality, image enhancement and watermark creation.
Lexmark has been predictably ambitious when it comes to quoting print speeds, and in our tests it only achieved around half the target 33ppm on draft and 15ppm for standard quality text printing. Photo prints were fairly fast, with a full colour A4 appearing in about a minute and a half, and just under a minute for photo-sized images.
The printer is capable of handling a wide range of media and print sizes using the manual adjustable sliders in the 150-sheet feed tray, and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder helps automate larger jobs for scanning and copying.
In terms of quality we had mixed feelings about the printer’s capabilities. Text prints are actually very good and we noted clean lettering with no bleed even at draft settings. Unfortunately photos don’t fare as well with average colour reproduction and poor separation of blacks and subtle shades, so the Prevail will not suit those who require good performance in this area.
Where the Prevail does succeed is in the range of genuinely useful features it offers and the fact that most of the time, it goes about its job with a minimum of fuss. Though it doesn’t excel in any one area this is a decent all-rounder for office environments that’s stylish, easy to use and offers an impressive range of time-saving tools.
Lexmark’s Prevail is a decent entry into this market and the tidy design and intuitive operation offers distinct appeal. Despite its drawbacks, it would be well suited to low-yield office or home office environments where it is versatile enough to handle a range of tasks.