Lexmark's local representatives were terribly keen for me to try their new printer, the Genesis S815. I'd resisted gently for weeks. This was a printer, after all, it puts ink on paper, where was the miracle?
The S815 is a multifunction printer, merging the utility of a fax machine, a scanner and a printer into a single device. It's hefty, even by the chunky measurements of this class of peripherals, but Lexmark has put some welcome thought into the shape of the device, which will still consume just over a foot square on your desk. The S815 takes its cue from the tall, gravity-fed compact inkjet printers that Canon used to make, putting a sleek, minimalist face to the user with just a power button and an LCD screen roughly the size of the one you'd find on a smartphone.
So far, this is just a nicely designed multifunction printer. Let's find out what Lexmark is so excited about.
First up, the printer can join your wireless network. Not the most amazing development, but many WiFi printers make network connectivity far more of a technical challenge than it needs to be. On this device, you tap the WiFi "fan" icon on the LCD screen and a user-friendly log-in screen appears. If you can sign into a wireless network using a computer or a smartphone, you can set up the printer. There's a CD in the box, but I always grab the newest printer software online, and I got the current driver for my system online at Lexmark with no issues. I like to locate printers away from my immediate work area and the ready wireless capability makes it possible to put the printer anywhere there's a good signal.
The scanner function is a bit of a surprise. Instead of a traditional scanning sensor, Lexmark has put a ten megapixel camera in the device, which makes for a lot of air in the design. Once you pop the scanning lid open (the face of the device) through the glass you'll find the lens of the camera that snaps whatever's on the scanner bed. There seems to be a low grade scanning sensor built into the device to provide a preview but an actual scan makes a gratuitous camera click sound, and the image pops up on the crisp LCD screen almost instantly. The image shows up across the network just a bit more slowly, and the image quality will be fine for business use and copying. Photo connoisseurs will want to look elsewhere for a scanner that's sharper and less noisy. Print quality is good, about average for Lexmark's middle of the pack print engines, but the company has packed more surprises into its new printer.
Log into the printer's "smart solutions" page on the web with the printer online and you can customise the software that shows up on the LCD screen. There isn't much there, but there are a few applications that make inventive use of the printer's hardware and...there's Facebook and Twitter. In a smart move, you configure the software on the computer, including log-ins and then the software is transferred to the printer where you get basic streams from both services on the LCD. I'd been looking at Mimo's little seven-inch LCD screens for exactly this kind of thing, and having access to a life social network stream on your printer might not be the kind of extravagance it seems. In summary, the S815 might just be multifunction solution for a small workgroup or home office, but potential buyers should test the quality of scans and prints to ensure that it meets their needs.