This isn't the first near-vertical flatbed scanner to hit the market; HP produced one a few years back, but that was a stand-alone device and used a conventional, tracking scanner head. Lexmark's FlashScan device effectively takes two photos, of each half of the page, and stitches them together, all in around three seconds. An A4 sheet sits on its edge, leaning back against the glass, while photos clip under its top edge, like order slips in a diner.
The scan results are very good, with strong natural colours and no signs of a join. At the launch, a Lexmark executive explained there was a lot of development work needed to remove barrelling distortion in the corners of the image. We can confirm there’s very little distortion of any kind in the production model.
Print speeds are similar to those from other Lexmark printers using the same print engine. We saw black text print speeds of up to 6.9ppm, with 7.9ppm for draft print. Black text and colour graphics produced 3.4ppm. Both these speeds are respectable, but perhaps more so is the duplexing speed of 4ppm. Although the Genesis S815 pauses between front and back sides of each sheet, it doesn't do so for as long as several of its rivals.
Scans and copies, of course, are quite a bit faster thanks to the FlashScan. A colour A4 page copied in 30s and scanned in around 20s. Although the scan itself is near-instantaneous, the transfer and formatting into a usable PDF is still dependent on the speed of your computer.
Print quality is good, with solid black text and accurate graphic colours on plain paper. A copy using the FlashScan scanner was, if anything, closer to the original than from more conventional devices, and photos showed very good levels of detail, though they were by default rather dark compared with the originals.
It doesn’t appear the machine can use the extra low-cost 105XL black cartridge that gives Lexmark's top-of-the-range Pro machines such a low cost per black page. Here, ISO black print comes out at 4.4p and ISO colour at 10.9p, each with 0.7p for paper. The black print cost is a little high compared with some rival machines, but the colour cost is below average for this type of device. Cartridge costs appear to vary more than most between suppliers, so it pays to trawl the comparison sites.
Unusually for a brand new printer, Lexmark is currently promoting the Genesis S815 with a £200 cashback offer. At a touch under £200, it’s very good value. At £400, even the novel design and FlashScan may be hard to justify. The vertically mounted scanner works very well and is certainly fast – ideal if you want to convert a large collection of traditional photo prints. The rest of the machine is similar to one of Lexmark’s high-end Pro machines, but looks rather better.