Every so often, somebody rethinks the design of the all-in-one printer. The last time was when Canon set the control panel in the middle of the scanner lid and that has evolved into a touch-panel on some of the latest models. Lexmark has been rather more radical with the Genesis S815, which mounts the scanner up at a near-vertical angle on top of the print engine.
Its reason for doing this is not just aesthetic - it has fundamentally rethought the scanning process and uses a CMOS image sensor to take a photo of each text page or photo. This means much faster scanning with few moving parts, but the technical difficulties aren't trivial. The device uses a large mirror to reduce the focal length of the scan, but even so, this is a bulky solution.
By going for height and a conventional straight-through paper path from the back of the machine to the front, the company has managed to produce a good looking, modern device, though we’re still uncertain about the swathes of piano black plastic down its front surface - there's even a small cloth supplied inside the printer to maintain the pristine gloss.
Set in the centre of the front panel is a 109mm touchscreen LCD, augmented by a number of illuminated touch buttons for things like Copy, Cancel and Home. The touch panel works well and uses the same menu system as most of Lexmark's Pro range of all-in-ones.
The Genesis S815 is claimed to be smaller than its competitors but, once you've extended the output paper tray from the front of the machine, you have a footprint of 386 x 490cm. This is actually larger than, for example, Lexmark’s own Pinnacle Pro901 at 465 x 392.
The paper tray at the rear is quite close to the back of the scanner cowl, making it slightly awkward to load 15 x 10 cm photo blanks. There is no separate tray for these, so you have to remove any plain paper first.
The supplied software includes Abbyy Finereader Sprint OCR and drivers for Windows and OS X. Linux drivers are also available. Additionally, this printer supports Lexmark's Smart Solution apps, which can be downloaded from its website straight into the machine. The process still has to be controlled via a connected computer, though, rather than directly from the device itself.
The four Vizix ink cartridges plug into the print head, though access is slightly restricted due to the design of the Genesis S815 – remember to slot in the lugs on the front of each cartridge first, before pressing it into place. USB and wireless connections are supported as is WPS push-button setup, if you're wireless router supports it.