Lexmark Interact S605 review

£205
Price when reviewed

Lexmark has been slow to adapt to the progress of its inkjet rivals, but its new line of all-in-ones finally takes some big steps forward. The range consists of one core print engine – now thankfully with individual ink cartridges – that sits inside everything from budget to top-end, with each model offering a different set of features.

Hands-on approach
The big selling point of the Lexmark Interact S605 – the top-end wireless home all-in-one – is its touchscreen. A little larger than that of an iPhone at 4.3in, it’s resistive so requires a fairly firm prod, and is home to an interface Lexmark has clearly put a lot of thought into. The home screen is simply three icons – Copy, Scan and the new Smart Solutions icon – and it’s the latter of the three that most interests.

By setting up an account on the Lexmark website you can create your own Smart Solution widgets for regular tasks, then push them out automatically to the printers on your network, where they’ll appear as icons. You can build standard print, scan and copy tasks within your browser, using the full range of options you’d get in the print driver itself, and then simply tap the icon to run the task with no further input.

Lexmark Interact S605 touchscreen

You can also build your own custom widgets for the screen or download those of other users: examples include RSS feeds, integration with Google calendar, and support for images on libraries such as Picasa (see the gallery). It potentially opens the interface up to iPhone app-style innovation, although it obviously relies on the community getting involved. At the moment the range of widgets is a little disappointing, but it worked well in our tests and adds a nice element of individuality to the printer.

Also on the home screen are quick buttons for two-sided printing and a customisable Eco mode, as well as an ink-level icon that leads to step-by-step cartridge and printhead replacement instructions. Along with the comprehensive installation guide on the CD and a help button, it’s tough to think of a way Lexmark could have made things any more user-friendly out of the box.

Speed boost
Lexmark has also finally updated its print engine, and it’s fast. Our mono document printed at 9ppm, which beats the A-Listed Canon Pixma MP640, while the S605’s colour rate was an impressive 4.3ppm. Photos were even quicker, with a top-quality 6 x 4in print arriving in just 31 seconds and our full A4 montage taking just over a minute. Things slow down a little when it comes to scanning and copying, but as a printer the Lexmark is a very nippy contender.

The trade-off for such speed is usually quality, and the Interact S605 falls short of the best. Its photos are too soft and lack the colour depth of the Canon, and you can clearly see grain with the naked eye. The quality of its text documents is better, though, with a nice thickness to characters and clean edges when examined with a magnifying glass. Our colour documents looked accurate and its colour-on-colour performance was excellent.

With four cartridges to replace, Lexmark has sensibly introduced XL variants for cheaper running, and they don’t cost too much. With each colour around £14 and the black at £20, its cost per page of 3.9p in mono and 11p in colour works out very close to the Canon MP640 – it’s not an overly dear printer to run.

Modular approach
That touchscreen does come at a price though, with the S605 costing £178 exc VAT – around £50 more than the Canon. The beauty of Lexmark’s one-engine approach is that if that’s too dear, you can buy the next model down, the S505, which comes with a basic screen and keypad for around £30 exc VAT less. You can keep dropping that price until you hit the features you need – the print quality and running costs will stay the same.

When push comes to shove, along with the wireless it’s the touchscreen that’s the real draw of Lexmark’s new all-in-one range. It’s the best interface we’ve yet seen on a printer, and if Lexmark can get the Smart Solutions widget service looking busier it could be a great community tool. The S605 may not quite match the best for quality but it’s certainly fast, and that touchscreen goes some way to justifying the high price.

Details

Speed rating 6

Basic Specifications

Colour? yes
Resolution printer final 4800 x 1200dpi
Integrated TFT screen? yes
Rated/quoted print speed 33PPM
Maximum paper size A4
Duplex function yes

Running costs

Cost per A4 mono page 3.9p
Cost per A4 colour page 11.0p
Inkjet technology Thermal

Power and noise

Peak noise level 50.0dB(A)
Dimensions 514 x 358 x 178mm (WDH)

Copier Specification

Copier rated mono speed 25cpm
Copier rated colour speed 21cpm
Fax? no
Fax speed N/A
Fax page memory N/A

Performance tests

6x4in photo print time 31s
A4 photo print time 1min 5s
Mono print speed (measured) 9ppm
Colour print speed 4ppm

Media Handling

Borderless printing? yes
CD/DVD printing? no
Input tray capacity 100 sheets
Output tray capacity 25 sheets

Connectivity

USB connection? yes
Ethernet connection? no
Bluetooth connection? no
WiFi connection? yes
PictBridge port? yes
Other connections None

Flash media

SD card reader yes
Compact Flash reader no
Memory Stick reader yes
xD-card reader yes
USB flash drive support? yes
Other memory media support MMC

OS Support

Operating system Windows 7 supported? yes
Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Windows 2000 supported? yes
Operating system Windows 98SE supported? no
Other operating system support Mac OS X 10.3.9, Linux

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