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Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 Color MFP Review
The Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 Color MFP offers laser-class speed, an ample feature set, above-par text for an inkjet, and low running costs.
(4 out of 5)
- Above-par text quality
- Has 50-sheet duplexing ADF
- Solid standard and optional paper capacity
- SmartSolutions Web apps
- Fast photo printing.
- Slightly below-par graphics and photos.
The Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 Color MFP ($399 direct, 4 stars) is the flagship model of the company’s new line of business inkjet multifunction printers (MFPs). Lexmark claimed that the OfficeEdge line would bring fast speed, vivid output, low running costs, and workflow improvements. The Pro5500 mostly delivers on its promises, and should be on the short list for small or home businesses looking for a color MFP; it can even give lasers a run for their money.
The matte-black Pro5500 (check price) measures 11.8 by 19.7 by 16.8 inches (HWD) and weighs 34.7 pounds. Apart from the on-off switch, the front panel has no physical buttons but includes a 4.3-inch color touch screen display. This MFP can print, scan, copy, and fax. It can scan to a network or to e-mail. It has a 50-sheet duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) for feeding one- or two-sided multi-page documents for copying, faxing, or scanning, and a legal-sized flatbed. The Pro5500 has a port for a USB thumb drive as well as a media-card slot. The Pro5500 has a single paper tray with a 300-sheet capacity, which should be fine for micro or home offices as well as many small offices. An automatic duplexer, for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper, comes standard.
Those who need more paper capacity should consider the Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500t ($499 street) essentially the same printer as the Pro5500 but adding a 550-sheet second tray for the $100 premium. (The second tray by itself as an option costs $179, so you’re better off buying the Pro5500t (check price) instead.) For the same price as the Pro5500, the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540 ($399 direct, 4 stars) offers a 580-page standard paper capacity, while the Editors’ Choice HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One Printer ($299 direct, 4.5 stars) has a 250-sheet standard paper capacity and offers a second 250-sheet tray for $79.
This MFP is compatible with the new Lexmark Mobile Printing Application (available in iPhone/iPad as well as Android versions), which is geared to PDF printing for SMB and small workgroup users, and the printer is also Apple AirPrint compatible. In addition, the touch screen provides access to Lexmark’s downloadable SmartSolutions Web apps. Lexmark will soon be introducing 12 multifunction SmartSolutions workflows for its OfficeEdge line that execute multiple tasks through the press of a button, such as “E-Mail & Save to Network” and “Copy, E-mail & Save to Computer.”
The Pro5500 offers Ethernet, WiFi, and USB connectivity. I tested it over an Ethernet connection with its driver installed on a PC running Windows Vista.
The Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 printed out the latest version of our business applications suite (timed with QualityLogic’s hardware and software) at 4.4 effective pages per minute (ppm). Not long ago, that would have placed it among the business inkjet MFP speedster elite, but the times, they are a changing. Though still a very respectable speed—it effectively matches the Editors’ Choice, laser-class (LED-based) Dell 1355cnw Multifunction Color Printer ($419.99 direct, 4 stars) —it was bested by both the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540’s (check price) 5.8 ppm and the Editors’ Choice HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One Printer’s (check price) 5.9 ppm.
The Pro5500’s consolation prize is that in photo printing speed—less important for an office printer than business printing speed—it turned the tables, delivering an average of 20 seconds per print, while the HP and Epson limped in at 55 seconds and 1 minute 12 seconds, respectively.
Text quality was above par for an inkjet, good enough for any standard business use including marketing materials. I’d draw the line, though, at demanding desktop publishing uses requiring very small fonts.
Despite touches of brilliance, the Pro5500’s overall graphics quality was slightly below par. The graphics had much to recommend them—bright colors, good retention of detail, and the ability to print very thin colored lines—but these strengths were offset by banding. Some illustrations showed a regular pattern of lighter colored narrow streaks, spaced about an inch apart. These showed up mostly against solid, dark backgrounds, and were significant enough that I’d be hesitant to hand the output out to potential clients or other people I wished to impress—though they’re fine for most business uses as well as academic handouts. The one other issue of note was posterization: abrupt shifts in color where they should be gradual.
Photo quality was slightly below par for inkjet MFPs in its price range. Colors were rich and well saturated, and the Pro5500 did well in retaining detail in bright areas. A monochrome photo had a tint, and a couple of images showed posterization. The test prints varied in quality, ranging from slightly below what you’d expect from drugstore prints up to true photo quality.
We always recommend that you wait a while before removing the output from a printer, and that’s particularly true of the Pro5500, as both graphics and photos tended to smear easily when freshly printed.
Lexmark claims running costs of 1.5 cents per monochrome page and 7.9 cents per color page. Though these are low compared with inkjets as a class, they’re comparable to the Epson WP-4540 (1.6 cents and 7.7 cents), and the Lexmark’s color costs are slightly higher than the HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus (1.6 cents and 7.2 cents). If you print a lot of color, the HP can save you a bit ($7 per 1,000 pages), and it has a lower sticker price as well.
The Pro5500 is a good choice to anchor a micro, home, or small office, with an all-around package including good speed and solid output quality, an ample feature set, and fairly low cost per page. But the competition is formidable; be sure to check out the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540 and the Editors’ Choice HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One as well. They’re both faster than the Pro5500, and offer comparable output quality.
The Epson WP-4540 trumps the Pro5500 in standard paper capacity, while between its standard tray and an optional one, the HP offers a 500-sheet paper capacity for less than you’d pay for the Pro5500. Though all three have low running costs for an inkjet, the HP’s color costs are slightly lower, and its initial cost is $100 less. Nonetheless, the Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 Color MFP is a well-rounded machine that should be a welcome addition to many micro and small offices.
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By Tony Hoffman, PCMag