Lexmark’s Genesis S815 (£299.69) certainly leads the way with flair. Unlike any other AIO (all-in-one), this 4-in-1 inkjet device sports a fantastically attractive vertical design that captivates the eyeballs. Full of fresh ideas, this colour printer, scanner, photocopier and fax machine is supported on machines running Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and Linux.

Dressed to impress

The Genesis S815 (420×386x321mm, 8.7kg) delivers everything a modern home office requires from a multifunction device. It can copy, scan, fax and e-mail at the touch of a button. Network connectivity comes via 802.11n Wi-Fi. There’s no Ethernet or Bluetooth, but there is a PictBridge port for connecting a digital camera and a slot for SD/MMC/xD/Memory Stick cards.

The black-and-silver Genesis S815 is one of the most attractive printer designs we’ve seen and Lexmark has done a fantastic job of creating a modern addition to the desktop. It has a 4.3-inch Web-enabled colour touchscreen that is easy to navigate and can be tailored to a user’s own preferences. The interface is intuitive, uncluttered, responsive, and a joy to use. Printing and scanning really has never been so much fun.

Fresh approach to scanning

The genius behind the Genesis S815 is Lexmark’s new Flash Scan technology, which adds much faster scanning and faster scan previews. Flash Scan camera technology is based on a 10-Megapixel CMOS image sensor that delivers an almost instant preview (no warm-up time required) of a scanned document on the colour touchscreen so users can see what they are getting before they scan, copy or fax.

Flash Scan also provides much faster scan speeds—for instance, the Genesis S815 can convert a hardcopy document into digital format in as little as 3 seconds. There’s even a neat grip along the top edge of the scanner platen to stop paper slipping.

In addition to Wi-Fi that eliminates the need for multiple cables to link with IT equipment?thus ensuring a neater workplace?the Genesis S815 can connect directly to the Internet, allowing users to download a range of free apps from Lexmark’s SmartSolutions suite. Among these are automatic RSS feeds, direct access to photo sharing Web sites, and viewing messages on Twitter and Facebook on the touchscreen in real time.

With the Twitter app, the touchscreen displays “tweets” from accounts the user is following. With a Twitter Search app, the user can enter a search term (such as company name) via the on-screen QWERTY-style keypad and see all “tweets” referring to the term. The Facebook app enables users to view Facebook content (Walls) on the touchscreen, and also print Facebook photos directly from the touch screen. It’s certainly cool technology, but in reality it’s unlikely users will ever fiddle with these built-in apps.

Form over function?

The front of the unit accommodates a 50-sheet paper-output tray and there’s a 100-sheet paper-input tray located on back of the unit. The Genesis S815 is designed for everyday printing, so there’s no support for special substrates such a thick card, banners, labels or DVDs. It does, however, support envelopes. Placing media into the paper-input tray automatically brings up the menu screen where the user can select the paper size manually. Supported sizes include A4, B5, A5, A6, 10×15cm, 10×20cm, 13×18cm, Letter, Legal, 4×6-inch, 4×8-inch, 5×7-inch, 2L and Hagaki.

There’s no automatic document feeder—scanning is via the flatbed platen only—as the scanner assembly and platen are also vertically oriented. Originals up to 8.5×11.7-inch can be scanned (no scanning of legal-size originals), but as the camera-based image capture has a maximum resolution of just 300dpi, this isn’t the right solution for high-resolution scanning. Automatic duplex printing is standard, and for photo printing there’s borderless printing on media from 4×6-inch to Legal (8.5×14-inch).

Thankfully the Genesis S815 not only looks good but also produces high quality prints thanks to Lexmark’s print technology called Vizix. Printers with Vizix have a semi-permanent printhead and separate ink cartridges, resulting in more efficient ink use. The Genesis S815 is no slouch either, producing sharp text documents at speeds of up to 33ppm (pages-per-minute) in black and 30ppm in colour.

There’s no doubting the Genesis S815 is an eye-catching printer. It is a truly inspirational product which is both sleek and stylish. Equally importantly, it’s an absolute breeze to operate?flip open the cartridge flap at the front of the base and there’s a handy label with the serial number, technical support details and part numbers for the four cartridges.

It also produces good quality prints, albeit not up to enthusiast photography levels. If performance trumps design, there are better AIOs for high-resolution scanning, better document handling and photo printing. For everyday casual use, the Genesis S815 is hard to ignore.