Lexmark Interact S605 All-in-One Printer Review
By Sandy Berger on October 12, 2009
Today’s world of printers is a far cry from the days of the first dot-matrix printers that only printed black ink on special pin-fed continuous paper. Today’s All-in-One printers can print, copy and scan in color. And the newest ones are also promising wireless printing, improved ink handling, and Internet connectivity. We decided to look at the Lexmark Interact S605 All-in-One printer to see if these new features are worthwhile additions or insignificant elements.
This year Lexmark has introduced two distinct lines in its All-in-One printers: the Professional Series (Platinum, Prestige, Prevail, and Prospect) and the Home Office Series (Interact, Intuition, Interpret, and Impact). Lexmark made life a little easier by using the same ink cartridges across this entire new lineup. Each has a different set of features and a different price point, but each uses the same ink cartridges.
We reviewed the Lexmark Interact, which is Lexmark’s USD 199 home office printer. The Lexmark Interact S605 comes in a large Lexmark box, as shown in Figure 1.
Inside the box (Figure 2) you will find the printer protected by tape and wrappings. You will also find the power cable, a USB cable, a cleaning cloth for the touch screen, a Quick Reference Guide, a Network Getting Started Guide, and the Lexmark software, as shown in Figure 3.
We were stymied when we saw no ink cartridges in the package. We found a little later that the four ink cartridges and the print head we actually packed inside the printer.
At 7” (17.8 cm) x 20.24” (51.4 cm) x 14.09” (35.8 cm) and 16.5 lb (7.5 kg), the printer itself is about the same size as others in this category. As you can see in Figure 4, the printer sides are slightly angled which gives it a little style. While the touch screen is glossy, the rest of the printer is matt black. The top is trimmed in silver and there is a very small mat diamond pattern on the top which helps to prevent fingerprints.
Instructions for unpacking the printer are usually printed on a paper or quick start guide. Lexmark bucks this trend and puts the unpacking and setup instructions in the software. Once you start the software, the instructions are easy to follow.
Even though the print head and cartridges were inside the printer, they still needed to be installed. The software gives detailed instructions and both the print head and ink cartridges popped in easily. The setup CD walks you through the entire setup, from inserting the ink to connecting the printer via Wi-Fi. As you can see in Figure 5, there is also a step-by-step guide on the printer’s screen that appears automatically when you open the printer.
The only instructions that were missing were on the positioning of the touch screen. As you can see in Figure 6, the screen angles out from the body of the printer. When you set up the printer, you should tilt the screen upward until it locks in place. If you ever want to move the printer, you will want to fold the screen down. Again, there are no instructions on how to do this. Although it may seem easy, we had some trouble with this. There is actually a place in the middle under the screen that you must press in just the right way to get the screen to close. (Please Lexmark – make this easier!)
Wi-fi setup was amazingly easy. You must hook the printer up to the computer with a USB cable to perform this installation, but the USB cable is included. We tried this wireless installation on several computers and several networks and it worked seamlessly. The setup allows you to sync the printer to a WPS-enabled router with the touch of a button, but even if your router is not WPS-enabled, setup is easy.
As shown in Figure 7, a green Wi-Fi light on the front of the printer indicated that the wireless is working correctly. The printer supports wireless printing 801.11 b,g, and n. When used with an “n” router, it gives an excellent broadcast area and very good transfer speeds.
Unfortunately, installing the printer drivers didn’t work as well in our tests. Installation went seamlessly on a Windows XP computer, but when we tried to install the printer drivers on a 64-bit Vista machine, the installation hung, even with the proper drivers. After an hour of looking at the “Please wait… preparing your printer windows,” we canceled the installation and called tech support. The experience was mixed. We talked to Eileen, a very nice lady from Manila whose English was very good. However, after 1 ½ hours, our problem was still not solved when our telephone connection was cut off. At this point, we decided to restart the computer, and low and behold, after the reboot, we were able to print from the computer. We finished the conversation with Eileen through an online chat.
Although the printer installed, it only worked properly for two days. Then it started throwing up an Internet Explorer script error every time we printed. We found that there was already a firmware update for the printer and so we updated the firmware, but still got the same error.
Another call to tech support yielded the worse response we could imagine. Upon explaining the problem to tech support, the representative said, “Since this is an Internet Explorer error, you will have to go to Microsoft or your computer manufacturer to find the solution.”
After the tech rep realized how upset we were with that answer, she did try to troubleshoot the problem. So we spent another 1 ½ hours on the phone and the call ended with no solution to the problem.
This Lexmark Interact has an excellent 4.3” LCD screen. Lexmark obviously put a lot of effort into developing this screen and its interface. The size is impressive and the screen itself is clear with brilliant colors. The touch screen interface is the best that we’ve seen on a printer. It is easy to navigate and extremely user-friendly. Each function has its own set of choices with no nested menus. The home screen, shown in Figure 8, has four main icons: Copy, Scan, Memory Device, and SmartSolutions.
Smaller icons below the main icons are for the economy mode, two-sided printing, settings, and the ink-level indication. The only physical button is a power on/off button to the left of the icons. The entire interface is clean and clear.
The right front of the printer has a memory card slots, as shown in Figure 9. It supports SD, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and xD-PictureCard, but not Compact Flask. There is also a USB 2.0 PictBridge port for direct connection of a camera or flash drive.
On the back of the printer, shown in Figure 10, is another USB port which is used to connect the printer to a PC. You will also see a bump-out on the back which is the duplex unit, which can be opened to clear paper jams. The power cord on the right protrudes from the printer, but the cable is brickless.
The Interact S605 has an adjustable paper tray at the back, as shown in Figure 110. A slider on the right side o the tray can be slid up or down to adjust for different size paper. The tray can hold up to 100 sheets of plain paper. Paper ejects into a pull-out tray in front of the printer.
Having only one paper tray means that you must remove one type of paper to insert another. However, the printer handled card stock, labels, stickers, envelopes and just about all papers types admirably.
This printer has an automatic duplex unit that lets you easily print on both side of the paper. An Eco Mode lowers the screen brightness, turns on duplexing and the power-saving mode. The duplexing is smooth and in our testing, seamless. It is also quiet.
With this new line of printers, Lexmark has updated their print engine, and it shows. Lexmark claims a draft black print speed of up to 33 ppm and normal black speeds up to 18ppm. They rate color draft at up to 30 ppm and normal color up to 11 ppm. We found that the S605 was speedy enough for most home and home office applications. It was especially speedy at printing photos.
The quality of photos is good. Color representation is also very good. However, you must remember that the type and quality of the photo papers will give different results. Lexmark does make their own paper and the printer is, of course, best paired with the photo paper from the same company. While 4x6” (10 x 15 cm) and 5 x 7" (18 x 23 cm) photos looked great, larger sized photos showed some softening of colors and contrast.
The quality of text documents is good. If you look at the text on good quality paper you will see clean edges and good thickness to the characters.
The Interact uses a four color cartridge system, so you only have to replace the color that you need. The cartridges come in normal or high yield.
You can also print directly from a memory card or a PictBridge-enabled camera, but there are no editing tools available in the printer itself. However, the touch screen interface makes working with photos easy. When you insert a memory card, you will see the simple choice screen shown in Figure 12.
It is easy to select your photos for printing. As shown in Figure 13, the large screen allows you to see six pictures at a time.
Scanning and copying on the Interact S605 is easy with the touch screen interface. The scanner has a standard A4 scanning bed. You can scan to a computer, to a memory device, or to email. You can also choose to scan in color or black-and-white. You can copy in black-and-white or color. You can choose photo or normal or draft and you can reduce and enlarge 25% to 400%. Both scanning and copying are quick and quiet.
The S605 comes with a three-year warranty, but that is only good if you register online within 90 days of your purchase. If you don’t register online within that time, your warranty reverts to the standard one year coverage.
The most innovative part of this printer is called SmartSolutions. This is a part of the main menu choices shown in Figure 8. SmartSolutions are like miniature Internet applications that run on the printer. The idea is that you can get Internet information to appear on the touch screen and you can also customize your work through these little apps. In order to use SmartSolutions, you need to go to the Smart Solution website on your computer and set up your printer and configure the solutions. While you can use the Solutions on the printer, you must use your computer to get everything setup and to make changes.
We had some difficulty in getting the website to recognize the printer. Getting everything to work required a firmware update as well as some work-arounds. We also had some trouble setting up applications. There was an app that shows you Gmail calendar, but you must know where to go to get the address of your Gmail calendar and the Lexmark documentation doesn’t help you at all. (By the way, you will find the address under HTML in the calendar settings.) When we set up the Smart Solution to display our Picasa pictures, the app kept timing out. Again there was nothing in Lexmark’s documentation to help us. But after some trial and error we found that we could lengthen the time in the applications settings on the computer. Setting the SmartSolutions to display RSS feeds was the only thing that worked the first time we tried it. We were able to get it to display news headlines, weather, and stock prices.
SmartSolutions will also help you automate tasks. They can be set to do repetitive chores like emailing a scanned document to a group and printing forms. You will find that most of the setup for these tasks requires some knowledge of email, networking, SMTP, etc.
There are only a few SmartSolutions available right now and most of them require some research, testing, and time to set up.
Lexmark Interact S605 all-in-one printer main specifications are:
The print quality and good solid print, scan, and copy functionality make this a good All-in-One. The wireless networking was easy to set up, but Lexmark obviously has some problems with their interconnectivity. While adding features and Internet connectivity is certainly admirable, the average consumer doesn’t want to spend hours on the phone with tech support to set up a new printer and certainly doesn’t want to use a printer that throws up errors every time it prints. We might have had more of a tendency to recommend this printer if their tech support could have solved our problems in a timely manner. This printer is a part of a brand new line for Lexmark and perhaps the problems that we had will be resolved, but there is no guarantee.
That said, the touch screen is superior. The interface is clear and easy. While the SmartSolutions might be a reason for a techie to purchase this printer, this technology is still in its infancy. There will have to be a lot more applications that are easier to use before the average person will want to make the leap.
While the S605’s quality and performance are excellent, the problems that came along with this printer make it difficult for us to recommend it.