Lexmark Genesis S816 All-in-One Printer Review
By Sandy Berger on May 27, 2011
Anyone who thinks that all printers are alike needs only to look at the Lexmark Genesis S816 to see some innovation in the printer industry. This is an all-in-one printer that has both a unique shape and some interesting new technology.
The Genesis S816 comes in a large box, shown in Figure 1. The shape of the box and the picture of the printer on the box give you a good idea of the uniqueness of this printer.
The contents of the box are shown in Figure 2. They include four ink cartridges, the power cable, a telephone cable for the fax, a USB cable, and a large envelope containing a 55-page Quick Reference Guide, and a CD with the software.
We reviewed the Genesis S816 which, as shown in Figure 3, is an all-black device. There is also a silver version, the S815. As you can see in Figure 2, the Genesis S816 is taller than it is wide. It measures 17 x 15 x 13 inches (432 x 381 x 330 mm) with the paper trays closed. This shape provides a smaller footprint which is a welcome design for those short on desk space.
The Genesis S816 stands upright with the scanner cover opening to the front rather than the top, as shown in Figure 4. The entire front of the printer and most of the sides has a glossy black finish, which easily attracts fingerprints. We guess that Lexmark is aware of this as we found a small, gray cleaning cloth tucked in with the printer’s packing material.
The Genesis S816 comes with a very simplistic pictorial Getting Started Guide, as shown in Figure 5. Basic setup is easy. Just insert the CD and follow the instructions. A wizard walks you through all the necessary chores including loading the paper, extending the output tray, setting the date, time, language and country, installing the ink cartridges, printing an alignment page, and setting up the connectivity with your computer. This printer works with Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Mac OSX.
We were able to easily insert the ink cartridges and found that, as shown in Figure 6, there was even an interior ledge for holding the cleaning cloth next to the ink cartridge area.
Even putting the printer on our wireless networks was a simple task. After the 20-minute setup procedure, the printer was ready to print wirelessly and to scan. There is a 100-sheet paper feed tray on the back of the printer, as shown in Figure 7.
The paper has a straight–through feed and exits on a pull-out tray on the front of the printer, shown in Figure 8.
We spent another 15 minutes to setup the fax and enter our email information so that we could email directly from the printer. All went smoothly. It wasn’t until we tried to setup the Smart Solutions on our Windows 7 test computer that we ran into trouble. The first task is to go to the Smart Solutions website to set up a free account. We already had an account from reviewing a previous Lexmark printer, so all we had to do was to add the new printer to the account.
The next step was to sync the Smart Solutions to the printer. The Smart Solutions icons appeared on the computer screen, as shown in Figure 9, but did not appear on the printer screen as expected.
Following several attempts, we decided to call Lexmark tech support. After more than an hour on the phone with tech support, the call was escalated to a specialist. After 30 minutes more, no solution was evident, and the tech support person said he would call back the next day. There was no call the next day. In fact, the call didn’t come until a week later, at which time we spent another two hours performing the same procedures that we had previously executed. Again, we were told that they would call back. No call came, but two days later a new printer appeared on our doorstep.
That same day, while we were in the process of installing the new printer, we got an email from Lexmark (one that was obviously sent to all Lexmark Smart Solutions users) saying that the Smart Solutions website had been updated. When we took a look, we found some big changes, so we updated our account to use the new website. Lo and behold! That solved the problem. There was nothing wrong with the first printer; the problem was with the Lexmark website. Soon, we had two Genesis S816 machines working seamlessly.
This printer has only one physical button, the power button, which is located in the middle of the front of the printer. Interaction with this printer is achieved with the 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen that resides above the on/off button, as shown in Figure 10.
The touch-sensitive area extends below the actual screen and includes a green Start icon that appears just above the power button. To the right of that is a Cancel icon that is only lighted when a print job is active. Above that are three touch icons: Back, Home, and Help. Again, these icons are lighted only when they are available. In Figure 10 you can only see the Help icon.
The Home screen that you see in this Figure has five choices which are shown by large icons. They are: Copy, Scan, Fax, Memory Device, and Smart Solutions. Under those are five indicators: the Wireless indicator, the Eco-Mode icon, the one-sided or two-sided icon, the Setup icon, and the Ink Levels icon. The touch screen is responsive and redraws quite quickly.
The Genesis S816 has an auto-duplexer that can be seen on the back, as shown in Figure 11. On the left side of the duplexer is the USB port. On the right are the in-and-out telephone line ports.
The Genesis S816 has two memory card slots and a PictBridge/USB port on the side as shown in Figure 12.
It supports cards of several different formats, including SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard and xD card.
The touchscreen on the Genesis S816 is sensitive enough that a quick press will get a full response. The interface is clean and uncluttered. We like the idea that choices that are not available for the current function are completely hidden. We also found the Menus easy to navigate.
Print quality was good, but not the best we’ve seen. It is, however, good enough for most everyday tasks, and you won’t notice the slight pixilation unless you put the text under a magnifying glass as we do.
The Genesis S816 is compatible with both the standard capacity 100 cartridges (included in the original packaging) and the high capacity 100XL cartridges.
The high-yield cartridges are the most cost efficient. The high yield black, which is rated for 510 black pages, costs USD 28 (about 0.054 cents per page) and each color, which is rated for 600 pages, costs USD 29 (about 0.049 cents per color per page). (The page yield ratings normally assume 5% coverage.) While ink costs are reasonable, we would have liked to see these cartridges have more capacity so we wouldn’t have to change out the cartridges so often.
We were surprised to find that when the black ink ran low, the Genesis S816 just kept printing. It never posted a low ink reminder on our PC. We later found that it did show a warning on the LCD touch panel, but if you put the printer in another room, that is not terribly helpful.
When photo printing on this Genesis S816, colors were bright and accurate. There was a tendency for dark solid areas to show a slight dithering with the solid areas breaking up into small dots. Yet performance was adequate for occasional photo printing.
During several weeks of testing, we encountered no paper jams or misfeeds.
Lexmark claims that the Genesis S816 can print up to 33 ppm in black and 30 ppm in color when in draft mode, excluding the first page out. You will note that this speed is accomplished only in draft mode. Printing in the regular mode will be considerably slower.
The printer is rated to print up to 3,000 pages per month, making it appropriate for light business use. But with a paper tray that holds only 100 pages, if you do print 3,000 pages a month, you will be adding paper quite often. Add to that the fact that even the regular cartridges only print about 200 pages and the high-yield cartridges only print about 600 pages, you may spend more time adding paper and ink to this printer than you anticipated.
The Genesis S816 prints, copies, scans, and faxes. It performs all of the functions admirably, but scanning is its forte.
The scanner on the Genesis S816 is unlike any other all-in-one that we’ve seen, and the scanner is the part that gives this printer its unique taller-than-wide appearance.
The Genesis S816 has a 10-megapixel CMOS sensor with a wide-angle lens like those found in digital cameras. This is essentially a digital camera with a wide-angle lens. Using such a lens lets the scanner shoot the entire image at once instead of incrementally scanning the document. Lexmark calls this their Flash Scan Technology. It allows for instant scan previews and faster than normal digital conversion of the document.
In our testing, we found that scanner lived up to Lexmark’s claims that it can convert a document to digital in three seconds. We especially liked not having to wait for the scan preview.
At 8.5 x 11.7 inches (216 x 292 mm), the flatbed scanner is even large enough for many books. One nice feature is that the cover pulls out slightly to accommodate thicker items. The angle of the scanner lets gravity align the bottom edge of the document so all you have to do is place it in the corner which is marked by a red edge. Our only complaint is that it is difficult to position several small objects on the scanner platen as you can with most flatbed scanners.
You can scan directly to SmartSolutions, e-mail, memory card, USB flash drive, or to a computer. Users can also use the quick Flash Scan Technology to send faxes or make copies.
The fax function worked seamlessly, and you can also scan directly to the fax so you can send out scanned documents quickly and easily. The Genesis S816 can also fax in color if your recipient has color equipment too.
Lexmark’s Smart Solutions is their way of making this printer Internet-connected. In the style of the iPhone and Android, it is a collection of application shortcuts that you can use for Internet services. As shown in Figure 13, the apps are clearly visible on the printer screen.
The number of applications has increased since we looked at the Lexmark Interact S605 All-in-One Printe r, and some are quite useful. There are three default applications: ID Card Copy, Photo Reprint and Tell Me More. The ID Card Copy lets you copy the front and back of an ID card quickly and easily. While this might be useful in some offices, we did not understand why it was a default app.
Not including our initial encounter, it is easy to add new apps, but you cannot remove the three default apps.
Also, when using the updated Smart Solutions website, we noticed that Lexmark had added a shopping cart and pricing to the Smart Solutions shopping center. At the time we visited, 68 of the solutions were free. There were five solutions for printing forms from LegalZoom that ranged from USD 30 to USD 40. We are hoping that Lexmark does not start charging for any of the solutions that are now free, but that is a distinct possibility.
The solutions that we found useful were those that handled printing and/or scanning functions. There are solutions for printing graph paper, sheet music, and calendars, and scanning directly to your Evernote account. You can also print photos from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Photobucket. Several other solutions like Google Analytics, which lets you track traffic to your Website, seems a little far-fetched for a printer.
The Smart Solutions also lets you display things such as the weather, your Google Calendar, and the news on the printer screen. While these may be handy if the printer is nearby, they won’t be very valuable if the printer is in a more remote location.
Lexmark offers a three-year extended warranty if you register your product within the first 90 days of purchase. The Lexmark Genesis S816 is Energy Star certified.
The main specifications for the Lexmark Genesis S816 all-in-one printer include:
* Researched at Best Buy on the day we published this review.
Lexmark is trying to break out of the mold with this Genesis S816 printer. It has an upscale look and good quality. It offers ease of use as well as the fastest scanning that we’ve seen in an all-in-one printer. The Genesis S816 performs all of its functions well, including printing, scanning, copying, and faxing. Features abound in this printer, including an automatic duplexer, a front-side USB port, and a three-year extended warranty with registration. Anyone who scans a lot of single-sheet documents will be happy with this all-in-one. Unfortunately, its lack of a document feeder makes it unsuitable for heavy use of multiple-page document scans or copies.
This is the second Lexmark printer where we had a problem with Smart Solutions. Although this time we got everything working properly with an update from Lexmark, we cannot say whether or not the Smart Solutions is yet ready for prime time. Smart Solutions does, however, have good potential and is being upgraded on a regular basis.
Lexmark is promoting this printer as a small office all-in-one and for that reason has included fax capabilities. Yet, because of the 100-sheet capacity of the paper input tray and the relatively small capacity of the ink cartridges, we cannot recommend this printer for office workgroups. We feel it would be more appealing for home or home-office scenarios.
When this printer was released, the retail price at the Lexmark website was USD 400, which was a little pricey, but a recent reduction to USD 200 makes it a much better value. That combined with low ink costs make it an attractive acquisition for home or home office.