Lexmark overcomes past hurdles with a good if mixed AIO printer. (March 21st, 2010)
Lexmark has suffered from somewhat of a perceived quality issue in the marketplace over the past few years. The S605, however, promises to do everything: it's a photo quality 3-in-1 printer with a long list of added features included. We hope to learn in a full review if this all-in-one can repair Lexmark’s sullen image.
Product Manufacturer: Lexmark
- Fast, good quality prints.
- Simple Wi-Fi printer sharing.
- Individual ink tanks.
- Long three-year warranty.
- Shoddy touchscreen.
- No extra software.
- Load tray in the back.
feature set and hardware
Beyond the rudimentary paper trays and ink nozzles, there are a host of features on the S605. It's hard to ignore: it has Wi-Fi for network sharing, a very bright 4.3-inch touchscreen LCD , PictBridge straight-from-the-camera printing, and a memory card reader.
Upon opening the printer, users will find 4 individual color ink tanks. While this doesn't appear to be anything unique on the surface, it's relatively new for Lexmark. Canon and Epson started the practice, with HP picking up on it in the mainstream only a few years back. We're glad to see Lexmark is now on the cost savings bandwagon, since it means only having to replace one small tank instead of the entire collection.
On top of the printer sits the scanner, which can accommodate A4-sized paper; the paper feed tray is actually located in the back, which is slightly inconvenient.
setup and real-world use
Setting up the S605 is a snap. We simply powered up the printer, and (for Windows) inserted the installation CD on our computer and clicked through some prompts. The printer was quickly recognized on our wireless network and we were up and running via Wi-Fi in minutes. Mac users should have a similarly easy setup process, since the Mac has both native drivers and Bonjour for recognizing the printer on the local network.
There was one thing sorely missing: photo printing software. We first double checked the installation CD and then Lexmark's website. The printer comes with no photo editing or printing software whatsoever. We settled for using the Windows photo printing wizard. It's not a fatal flaw, but it's something that can be more common (and occasionally expected) with all-in-ones than with single-task printers.
We performed a variety or print and scan tasks on the S605. Overall the print quality was good and the print speeds were very fast -- something you can't always say for inkjets. Scan quality was also good, but scanning speed was strictly average. All of our tests were done over the Wi-Fi connection, so the potential exists for slightly faster performance through USB; however, it does attest to the quality of Wi-Fi that we didn't feel a wired link necessary.
The touchscreen is a mixed bag. As an interface, it's intuitive; Lexmark includes a menu dubbed SmartSolutions that performs unique tasks such as copying ID cards and reprinting photos. It reflects the reality of printers in an Internet era, where the device is more likely to replace the local photocopying shop than print out a report. However, the accuracy of the screen itself is decidedly sub-par. As easy as the interface itself may be, the touchscreen's responsiveness is hit and miss. Some menus seem to respond quickly while others required multiple taps to perform tasks.
Thankfully, photo prints from the S605 look great. We tested the printer with Lexmark's own Perfect Finish line of photo papers and got vivid colors and clean output. As with other printers, your experience may vary depending on the paper, but Lexmark is at least in serious contention. We'd also add that the S605 handles double-sided printing; it's not as common at the $200 price point and definitely important for those who may use the S605 for a home business.
We'd also point out the warranty. We don't talk about after-sale support often in reviews, but Lexmark's three year warranty is an appreciated touch in a field which often considers the printer more disposable than the ink it's attached to.
In many ways, the S605 is a capable printer. The Wi-Fi support, individual ink tanks, 3 year warranty, and long list of added extras may not be dealmakers individually, but combined they could be enough to sway some at the price point.
That said, with the touchscreen as the major interface between users and the printer, the experience can be particularly frustrating. Add the lack of photo software the printer goes from great to merely good. Lexmark appears to have addressed concerns on product quality, ink cost, but the S605 now has two functional issues to deal with that keep it from being a truly standout product.