Print speed and quality
Like the Prestige, Lexmark advertised two sets of print speeds for the Interpret. The first set, or the “fictional set” in my opinion, alleges that the Interpret can print up to 33 ppm in black. The second set, the “laser quality print speeds,” gives a much more accurate print speed at 10.4 ppm in black.
Using the same 40-page black and white word document we use with all reviews, the Interpret printed an average of 10 ppm in automatic print mode with an average first page out in 11 seconds. Switch to the quick print mode, and the average print speeds jump to 16 ppm with a first page out in about 10 seconds. It took the Interpret more than four minutes to print a 40-page document in automatic mode while it took about two and half minutes to print the same document in quick print mode.
Photo printing speeds were comparable to what I’ve seen from competitors and to the Prestige. The Interpret printed an 8.5 x 11 color image in about a minute and a half in automatic mode but add about 20 seconds if you decide to print in the best photo printing mode.
On average the Interpret printed a 4 x 6 print in about 30 seconds, and 4×6 print speeds were roughly the same in both automatic and best mode.
Quality wise, the Interpret didn’t quite stack up to the Prestige, but it was still leaps beyond the previous generations we’ve reviewed (the X6650 and X4975). In fact, I would even say that the Interpret outperformed other manufacturer’s office machines in the same price range, as you can see from the samples below.
In our standard balloon images, the Interpret’s color quality is good but the focus is a bit off, especially compared to the Prestige sample and the original test shot.
In the outdoor shot of the puppy, the color quality and focus are better than what I got from the Pixma MX350, a middle-of- the-road office inkjet, but still not as good as what the Prestige printed.
Lexmark Interpret print, far left; Lexmark Prestige print, center; Canon PIXMA MX350 print, far right
I was impressed with the Interpret’s text quality. Both the automatic print mode and quick print mode were above what I expected. If I was still a student, I would feel very comfortable submitting a paper for class printed in quick print mode – a likely scenario since I was a major procrastinator. I might not go as far in the professional realm, but quick print mode would be more than good enough for interoffice documents, memos, rough drafts, etc.
Ink control tests
In our tests, we exhaust (printing until the color runs out) a new set of cartridges; “exhaustion” means the printer will not print another “quality” document without a replacement. We print at a ratio of three pages of black and white text to one full page of color. We decided on the 3:1 ratio because we felt that the average user is printing more text than color.
The Lexmark Interpret included four standard capacity Lexmark 100 cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). Lexmark also sells high capacity 100XL cartridges for the Interpret, but we didn’t test them since they weren’t part of the original packaging. However, we did test the high capacity cartridges with the Prestige, if you’re curious.
At the ratio of 3:1 in Lexmark’s Automatic mode, the Interpret printed about 200 pages before the printer alerted me to a low yellow cartridge followed closely by the magenta and black cartridges. Like the Prestige, the Interpret will allow you to continue to print after the low ink alerts appear and I got 75 more pages before the black text quality began to noticeably deteriorate.
Unlike the Prestige, Lexmark does not offer the $4.99 105XL black ink cartridge that can print more than 500 pages.
I have no paper jams to report on the Lexmark Interpret, and in fact I found the Interpret has a better paper path than its big sister. I’m not usually a fan of the rear paper tray typically found on lower budget inkjet models, but the Interpret’s was sturdy and had a lever that slid vertically, automatically adjusting the tray to the paper size. I wouldn’t mind seeing all inkjet manufacturers include something similar on their rear paper trays.
The Lexmark Interpret used an average amount of energy for an inkjet printer. It was similar to several of its peers whether printing, scanning or sleeping: sometimes it overperformed them, sometimes it underperformed them.
In ready mode, the Interpret uses about 7 W of energy compared to only 3 W in sleep mode. Since there is no screen on the Interpret, there is less to power.
When printing, the energy use varied on the print mode. In automatic print mode, the Interpret didn’t work as hard and pulled between 15 and 17 W of energy during average jobs. In quick print mode, the machine worked harder using between 22 and 25 W of energy.
When scanning or sending faxes, the Interpret barely jumped out of ready mode and used about 10 W of energy. When receiving a fax or copying, the energy use was similar to energy used during printing.