Design and features
The Lexmark Prestige Pro805 is a behemoth of a multifunction printer when you first take it out of the box: measuring 25x46.5x39.2cm and weighing 9.27kg it's certainly a large addition to any workspace. Along with the rest of the oddly-titled range (including such gems as the Impact, Prevail and Intuition — find us a printer that's intuitive and we'll eat our hat), the Pro805 is a wireless-enabled device that prints, scans and can even check the weather forecast for you. At AU$499, this printer does cost a pretty penny, so you'll want to make sure it's fully tailored to your needs before you fork out a wad of cash.
It's therefore evident that the Pro805 has a myriad of calling cards, but the most intriguing ace up its sleeve is the 4.3-inch web-enabled touchscreen that takes the place of the traditional colour TFT panel at the front of the device. With a sleek piano black finish, it certainly adds a touch of refinement to an otherwise conventional Lexmark printer design. With the Smart Solutions interface, you can download applications to install on the printer (such as RSS feeds, and one-touch printing for commonly used documents providing a computer is connected to the printer at the time). There's also an application that lets you view the closest retail location from which to purchase ink.
Connectivity is taken care of thanks to 802.11b/g/n or the standard Ethernet port at the back of the device. At the front alongside the touchscreen are standard PictBridge connections (though only for SD, Memory Stick, xD and MMC cards). At the back is the Ethernet port and USB cable connector if you don't feel like freeing yourself from cords. A novel addition for business people is the scanner's ability to read business cards and import contact details into a communications program of choice (such as Microsoft Outlook). There's automatic duplexing as well. The included cartridges are XL (high yield) consisting of three colours — magenta, cyan and yellow — and black. Paper consumables are loaded from the front of the device.
Taking the Pro805 out of the box is no easy task, as the printer is hidden beneath a layer of styrofoam, cords and instruction booklets (thank goodness that Lexmark chose to include physical copies of the documentation this time around, unlike some of its earlier printers). Included in the box is the printer itself, four cartridges, instruction manuals and networking guides, an installation CD and service guideline CD, USB cable and a protective/polishing cloth (presumably to wipe away those smudgy fingerprints from the touchscreen's surface). Installing the software and printer drivers took at least half an hour, with the printer needing to update its firmware not once, but twice during the set-up process.
The set-up process is the first time that you will encounter the touchscreen interface, and it certainly makes a good first impression. It's nice and responsive, and intuitive to use. It even gives a nice visual indication (complete with little animated bubbles!) to tell you the current ink tank levels.
This is where our admiration for the printer begins to wane. In our experience, there's always an aspect of a printer that proves frustrating, and for the Pro805 it wins the tearing hair award for having the most fiddly ink tanks. The tanks wouldn't snap into position on the printhead without a lot of jostling, abrasions and the odd expletive or two. An honorary mention has to go to paper jams as well — the Pro805 fed several sheets at once through the printer, making the paper get stuck as it passed through the device. There's no easy way to remove the paper either, so you'd better hope for some small hands to jam underneath the print tray to retrieve your treasured, crumpled sheet.
As for the Ethernet and wireless set-up, well, the less said the better. The printer intermittently connected to our network of choice, and then dropped out (regardless of the connection method) which was incredibly frustrating. Linking the device to the Smart Solutions website was also difficult with the printer constantly timing out when connecting to the site — and this wasn't an internet issue either as the printer kept verifying that it was connected to the internet. After the Smart Solution website required a printer firmware update (again) to allow the site to communicate with the printer, we thought at least this time it would be straightforward. Not so.
One of the elements that we tested was syncing the printer with the Smart Solutions website in order to download applications for the touchscreen. A week of struggling with the syncing process was met with many errors until finally after resetting the printer to its factory defaults, the printer finally synced and installed the applications we chose from the Smart Solutions website. Cue more hair loss here.
This printer isn't particularly fast — with our standard test document sent via the USB connection it took one minute, 13 seconds for the first page to emerge from the printer, with lengthy delays of 10 seconds or more between pages thereafter.
Fortunately, text quality with standard 12-point font was fairly good, though at larger sizes there was a small amount of smudging and banding across the text. Lexmark claims that the Pro805 can spit out a 10x15cm print in 24 seconds — we measured exactly double that time for a photo quality print on Lexmark's photo paper. The quality of the print was reasonable, but nowhere near lab quality with visible droplets and over-saturated colours.
Cost and consumables
One of Lexmark's perennial claims is how cheap it is to run one of their printers — 1¢ per page (black). You can find the nearest place to buy cartridges using one of the apps on the Smart Solutions interface. The Pro805 uses individual colour cartridges and one black cartridge, a shift away from the combined colour cartridges of old.
Service and support
Lexmark provides a three-year on-site exchange warranty. The Lexmark website also includes a number of downloads including driver updates for new operating systems. Support is via email or via a 1300 number which we had to call during the Smart Solutions debacle — fortunately, we can verify that the staff on hand are very nice to deal with and very patient. Pity there isn't an app for "Find the nearest wig shop".