Review: Lexmark Interact S605

Our score: 2/5
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November 30, 2009 12:31 PM
 
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Published: November 29, 2009 11:00 PM
By Vincent Alzieu
UPDATE 2011. Some models of Lexmark inkjet printer released between 2009 and 2010 are equipped with faulty print heads. This leads to a deterioration in print quality—sometimes with certain colours completely missing—not long after the initial purchase of the device and even with full ink cartridges.

Users who encounter such problems should call Lexmark's inkjet printer support line on 0207 365 2496 (UK customers only). Once the nature of the problem has been established, eligible users will be sent replacement print heads and a complimentary set of cartridges.

Following continuing issues with print heads and print quality, the Lexmark inkjet printers reviewed on DigitalVersus have had their overall score reduced to two stars as of 11/08/2011 and until a suitable solution can be found.


Lexmark has changed everything on this WiFi printer - for the better. So much so that it's now our favourite multifunction inkjet. The printing speed has increased, the quality, especially of photos, has improved. A large, responsive, user-friendly touchscreen has replaced the traditional cluster of buttons, AND - we saved the best for last - this is a smart printer.

Handling: A whole new kind of printer

The printer's new 'smart' features are evident in several areas:
  • it can duplex print (that looks almost standard compared to the rest)
  • it has an eco mode that lets you enable a range of energy-saving functions
  • it connects to the Web, giving you access to your choice of news feeds (RSS), your online photo account, and so on
  • you can program your own new functions.

The S605's home screen: the green leaf activates the eco mode.

The new functions are grouped together under the Smart Solutions button on the right. Press the icon and a new menu pops up:


For example, we added an Archive function for our invoices. Now all we do is slip the paper invoice into the scanner part, press the button, and away it goes - the printer digitises the document, converts it to PDF format, and saves it to a designated folder on PC or Mac, without any further input from us to the printer or the computer. It even names the file itself based on the date. Minimum hassle, maximum efficiency!

Here's another example: we can scroll through the meetings in our Google calendar, or our site's news, right on the screen, either automatically when the printer goes into standby mode or manually via a new dedicated button on the touchscreen.


You don't have total freedom over the creation of these buttons. You're offered a series of pre-programmed, customisable functions... on line. You log into the Lexmark site, select the type of function you want on the left, drag it over to the right, and configure it to suit you.


But now we're going to give you a piece of advice that'll save you time and frustration: click the '?' icon at the upper right! It all looks simple and intuitive, but if you don't follow the recommendations you'll often get your wires crossed. It's not really all that complicated, but the steps are different from one function to another, so it's better to follow the guide.

Our verdict after a couple of weeks of trying it: we like it!

Speeds

Lexmark has introduced a very simple idea that we love: from the entry-level model to the top of the line, the cartridges are the same and the printing engine is the same. That means that regardless of price, the speed, quality, and cost per page are the same. The only difference is that there are more options available as you move up the range. On the S605, it's the LCD touchscreen, the web connection and the customizable functions, none of which available on the less expensive models.

We mentioned better speed. Here's proof:

Close to 15 pages per minute in black and white and 10 ppm in colour... Lexmark's new generation is fast - in normal mode, at least. But personally we don't use that mode; we prefer to use the double-sided printing mode that is activated by default and also enable all the energy- and paper-saving options. With the time it takes for the printer (see inset) and duplex mode to start up, the printing rate becomes secondary and drops by half. But it's good enough for our purposes.

4 x 6'' photo prints took approximately 37 seconds. Until recently, that was about the record for this type of printer. Other models do better than that now, but then again, it's still good enough for personal use!

Quality: excellent at photos, but ...

Lexmark printers have never had problems with quality as far as office printing is concerned. Here's a 3x enlargement of a document that's not simple to print:


The green background is nice and even, the text is perfectly legible, and the colours don't bleed into each other. Very good results, even more precise than a laser printer... But, for 'perfect' results, two points could be improved. The colour shading in the bars has almost disappeared, so they look like solid blocks of colour; finer colour shading in normal mode would be a nice thing to have. And above all, the black ink needs to dry better and faster. If you handle a page with moist hands, text can smear.

Our first impressions of the photo mode were mixed, until we understood the source of the problem. If you let the printer manage everything in automatic mode, your prints come out extremely red. For once, it's better not to rely on the printer's intelligence. For photos, be sure to select the paper you're using - Lexmark recommends their own PerfectFinish, and it really does produce good results. Once the settings are adjusted manually, the colour prints are excellent, sharp, and - unlike previous Lexmark generations - ink drops are no longer visible.

As for black-and-white prints, we found them a little too dark.

Scanner and copier

For Lexmark, the scanner has not been a priority in its multifunction printers, and so while quality hasn't improved, scanning is now faster. Pre-scanning takes only five seconds (as opposed to nine before), and a 4 x 6'' photo scans in 15 seconds at 300 dpi (instead of 20). That puts scanning times at about average.

The quality is acceptable, good enough for the kind of use you'll put this kind of product to. The sharpness could be better and the rendering of the reds could be a little truer, but it'll do.

In figures, the average colour difference was only 5.5% (colours are truer on certain standalone scanners. Colour for colour, we noted a peak in the reds that was also easy to see on our test images:




As for copies, reproducing an A4 page in black and white took 21 seconds, and in colour, 29 seconds. Here again, the progress made in comparison to the previous generation is significant (copies used to take over 40 seconds).

Cost per page

As is often the case nowadays, two versions of the same cartridges are available, with different capacities: Normal and XL. The former are cheaper to buy, but they contain a lot less ink, and the actual cost of use is almost twice as high. We strongly recommend the larger capacity. The XL versions may hurt a little more when you shell out for them, but in terms of cost per page, the S605 is a little cheaper than average if you use them.

ISO Lifespan for text cartridges

Cartridge RRP ISO Lifepan
Cost per page
100 black £12.70
170 7.5 p
100 cyan
£7.94 200 3.97 p
100 magenta £7.94 200 3.97 p
100 yellow £7.94 200 3.97 p

Using normal cartridges, the total cost per page is just under 20 p.

Cartridge RRP ISO Lifepan Cost per page
100XL black £19.85 510 3.9 p
100XL cyan £14.27 600 2.4 p
100XL magenta £14.27 600 2.4 p
100XL yellow £14.27 600 2.4 p

Using Lexmark's recommended prices, XL cartridges end up costing 11.1 p per page.

2/5 Lexmark Interact S605 DigitalVersus 2009-11-30 00:00:00

Pros

  • Large touchscreen
  • Programmable functions
  • Web-connected printer, WiFi very simple to set up
  • Fast in all modes (15 ppm in B&W, 10 ppm in colour), good in photo mode too
  • Low ink cost with XL cartridges: 11 p per page

Cons

  • Shortage of pre-programmed functions on line
  • Takes a little while to figure out how to customise the buttons
  • First page is slow to print: 15 seconds, and up to 30 seconds coming out of standby
  • Black ink doesn't dry fast enough
  • Photo printing needs manual configuration for good colours

Conclusion

Lexmark has invented a new kind of printer that's bound to catch on with their competitors. The built-in features and the touchscreen really do simplify certain tasks.

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