Performance

March 29, 2012 by Sarah Meyer Reads (17,638)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service & Support
    • 7
    • Print Quality
    • 9
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance / Print Speed
    • 10
    • Features
    • 9
    • Operational Costs
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.67
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


Performance

Setting up the OfficeEdge Pro5500
Lexmark definitely wants to make it easy on their customers – they offer a multitude of ways to choose how to set up your printer. Choose from the CD guided setup, the control panel guided setup, use the Quick Reference Guide provided in the box or choose to use none of it. It’s your world; the OfficeEdge Pro5500 is just living in it.

I looked through all three guided options to get an idea of what users might experience starting with the CD since that’s what Lexmark clearly wants you to do considering the large single sheet of paper stacked on top of the printer telling users to put in the CD.

From here, it’s like the software installation edition of Choose Your Own Adventure. Select the software you want to install, select if you want to set up fax now or later, select if you want to install new updates (this printer has been out a month and already offers updates), select if you want step by step hardware guidelines, select your connection type, the list goes on and on.

Basic things you need to do: Unpack printer, turn on printer, set language/date/time, load paper, install ink and choose connection type. The rest is literally up to how you want to use your device. And depending on how many times you select yes, you’ll find the overall set up time grows.

Ease of Use
If you read the above passage, then you are already aware that Lexmark wants to offer you as much support as you need and no more. This philosophy lends itself to a very pleasing user experience. I love that the user gets to decide if they want the extras; it’s the best of both worlds.

Starting with the control panel, the OfficeEdge Pro5500 has a 4.3-inch touchscreen display that, at first glance, is identical to what we’ve seen on past Lexmark inkjets with SmartSolutions. You have your three main device menus – scan, copy and fax – and the SmartSolution Main menu. Beneath, you have four smaller quick icons that take users to the wireless settings, eco settings, device settings and supplies.

The control panel is responsive to touch and the menus are intuitively set up so users can easily scroll through menus or jump immediately to a preset SmartSolution app. Navigation keys only appear when needed and the control panel not only alerts users to print errors, but explains how to correct them. And on a side note, Lexmark includes a microfiber cloth for cleaning the smudges off the touchscreen.

The Lexmark SmartSolutions Technology has been available on the web-connected inkjet printers since the summer of 2009 but the company has gradually increased the number and variety of apps over the last few years. Today, you can access over 90 free applications including big names like Facebook, Picasa, Twitter, MapQuest, Google Docs, ESPN, BBC, etc. as well as a variety of shortcuts, tools and forms created to streamline everyday business jobs. What you won’t find are the slew of family friendly apps we saw with HP’s web applications, but seeing as the OfficeEdge Pro5500 is a business printer, that shouldn’t be much of an issue.

In order to access said SmartSolutions, users need to first set up an account online (I already have one since I’ve reviewed both the Pinnacle and Genesis). You can add multiple lexmark printers to an account, which is easy to do once the printer is connected to your network. Simply select the printer and enter the provided code into the touch panel. The printer does the rest of the work. You may need to update your printer’s firmware to access all of the SmartSolutions, but the SmartSolution Center will prompt you if that is necessary.

There is only one default applications setup – ID Card Copy. It’s easy to add new applications or remove and re-order old apps depending on your businesses’ needs. And the great thing about Lexmark SmartSolutions as opposed to the competition is that you can update SmartSolutions on your computer or the printer’s control panel. For further information about the SmartSolutions Technology and some basic applications, see our in-depth look “Lexmark SmartSolutions Tech aims to please SMB” article. As we mentioned earlier, Lexmark has since added several new applications and several new web-connected printers to the mix since that writing, but the basic applications remain the same.

Despite the fact that Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 is designed as an office device, it does offer some software for users we’ve seen on previous AIOs including Lexmark printer Home, Lexmark Tools for Office and an online Lexmark Project Center. You’ll also have access to an embedded web server if you set up the OfficeEdge Pro5500 over a network connection.

Lexmark Printer Home offers access to the scan software and scan-to features, maintenance, support, printer settings, the user’s guide, fax setup and features, SmartSolution and additional software.

The additional software option allows customers the option to download free business solutions including the Document Solutions Suite, Universal Print Driver, Markvision Enterprise and the LexPrint App for mobile printing from a variety of Apple products.

I found the fax machine is easy to use and users can adjust fax settings through the touchscreen or the Lexmark printer Home as I mentioned earlier. I sent and received faxes with little effort and the OfficeEdge Pro5500 has color fax capability (depending on the machine it’s sending to/ receiving from).

The scanner worked well on the OfficeEdge Pro 5500 and users can scan to network, scan to email, scan to file or scan to memory device. I did notice that when scanning multiple photos at once, the software does not automatically separate them into individual files but if you use Lexmark Printer Home, there is an option. But if you use the scan software found in Lexmark printer Home, you should be prepared to interact with the printer by selecting your scan profile and then hitting scan. This seemed like an inventive way to keep scans organized when multiple people might be trying to use the device at once. And because Lexmark literally wants to give the user every possible option, you can turn off this feature so it scans immediately.

And as we mentioned during the build and design section, customers get a legal sized scan flatbed that can scan double sided documents. While you might not be able to select to scan multiple times from the control panel you can select a bunch of other customizable options including: sides, background removal, scan size, quality, content, brightness, etc. Then scan preview right on the control panel before sending it on to the next destination be it your network, email, file, etc.

Lexmark also ended up sending us the optional tray, turning our Pro5500 into a Pro5500t. The tray is definitely a nice feature if you have a high print volume cause it gives users the ability to print to the second tray if the first tray is out.  It can also be helpful if you print on a mixture of print mediums; designate one tray for copy paper and the other for special media. 

Print Speeds and Quality Tests
As with past products, Lexmark publishes two sets of print speeds for the OfficeEdge Pro5500: the maximum draft speed (which I usually find to be inflated) and the laser quality print speed. For the OfficeEdge Pro5500, the maximum print speed is 40 ppm in black and the laser quality print speed is 21 ppm.

And as usual Lexmark’s advertised laser quality print speeds are pretty accurate. In automatic mode, the OfficeEdge Pro5500 printed a 40-page black and white text document in two and half minutes with an average speed of 20 ppm. I did get the OfficeEdge Pro5500 to print at speeds of 21 ppm but not consistently enough to average out.

The OfficeEdge Pro5500 did not print the advertised maximum overall print speed of 40 ppm in black and white during our tests but despite this, I was still impressed because it did manage to print at speeds up to 31 ppm. I honestly believe this is the first inkjet I’ve ever reviewed that has actually managed to print at speeds of 30 ppm or higher. It’s a true milestone for me.

Anyways, in draft print mode, the OfficeEdge Pro5500 printed a 40-page black and white text document in one minute and twenty seconds with an average print speed of 30 ppm. Sure, it fell short of 40 ppm in my tests, but so do the competitors. In fact, in both automatic mode and in draft mode, the OfficeEdge Pro5500 is the fastest inkjet I’ve reviewed to date.


OfficeEdge Pro5500 Automatic Mode print sample, left, OfficeEdge Pro5500 Draft Mode print sample, right

The OfficeEdge Pro5500 offers automatic duplexing mode; it printed a 40-page black and white text document in about ten minutes, not the fastest duplexing print speeds I’ve seen. But Lexmark allows customers to choose the dry time setting – the above numbers were based on the default printer setting.

You can print photos with the OfficeEdge Pro5500 although Lexmark is quick to say that’s not its primary function. However, I thought the OfficeEdge Pro5500 did a great job with the photo images and print speeds considering it’s definitely considered an extra. Will this printer make a photographer happy? No. But will it satisfy the occasional demand for a quality photo image that your average business might have? Yes.


Original digital image, left, Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 sample image, right

If you are printing one photo, be it a 4×6 or 8.5×11, it will print quickly. If you print a few in a row, you’ll have to factor in the dry time pause with the speed times. For instance, it took about 25 seconds to print the first 4×6, but then for each subsequent picture, it took closer to 45 seconds. For 8.5 x 11-inch images, the first image was out in just over a minute while the second took closer to a minute and a half. Still, pretty decent print speeds which the OfficeEdge Pro5500 accomplishes because it lacks the higher end photo quality you’d find on a dedicated photo printer.

What business customers will find most impressive are the color prints not on photo paper. I’m talking about the mixed documents with everything from a color headline to the color charts, graphs and clip art you might see in a brochure. It was some of the best color printing I’ve seen on regular copy paper although not quite up to laser standards. However, introduce a higher end ColorLok paper, you’ll find the color images are pretty close to laser quality, if not as good.


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