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Lexmark has identified lawyers as a great fit for its SmartSolutions line of printers and all-in-ones, so it sent me its Platinum Pro905 all-in-one inkjet to try. The SmartSolutions line of printers and all-in-ones is basically an attempt to turn your printer into an iPhone. Which turns out to be surprisingly useful, actually.
Overall, the Lexmark Platinum Pro905 is a great all-in-one inkjet with one crippling flaw: it is an inkjet. In my humble opinion, inkjets are a bad choice for a law office. Aside from that gigantic caveat, this is a great piece of kit, and if you aren’t churning out lots of paper, this may be the printer for you.
Like most all-in-ones, the Platinum Pro905 can print, scan, copy, and fax. No surprises, there. What you’ll notice right off, though, is the bright, colorful touchscreen hanging off the front of the machine. I’ve never owned a printer with much more than a couple of buttons and tiny digital readout, and they have all worked just fine, so I was fairly dubious about the whole thing.
But the touch panel is actually a really nice way to interact with your printer. You get more options that you can control right from the printer, and because it has big, colorful icons, you can actually comprehend those options. That’s all well and good, but the printer also has apps (so will your toaster soon, I imagine) that let you quickly access various options. For example, right now I’ve got apps for quickly making a black-and-white copy, viewing photos from my Flickr account so I can print them directly, “eco copy” for low-ink copies, and a few others. There are apps for things like one-touch faxing to the court or opposing counsel, or scanning straight to a directory. All in all, lots of useful stuff that you would otherwise have to wade through printing preference menus to access.
The printer is also set up for wired and wireless internet access. To use SmartSolutions, you will need an account at smartsolutions.lexmark.com, but once you are logged in, you can install, arrange, and remove your printer’s apps from your browser.
What SmartSolutions doesn’t have, which would be nice to see, is an easy way to set up your printer for printing over the web. I’d love to be able to print off a brief in my office while working from a coffee shop.
Minus that wish, SmartSolutions makes the Lexmark Platinum Pro905 easier to use and more useful than the average printer. I was surprised to find myself really liking the SmartSolutions feaures.
Here’s the rub. Look, it’s not a laser printer. The quality is great, but it took Aaron less than 3 seconds to pick out the inkjet copy when I printed a summons on my HP LaserJet and on the Lexmark SmartSolution. Here they are, side-by-side (click for very big):
Inkjet prints smudge easily, and they don’t always get vertical lines perfect. Lasers, by contrast, produce great-quality print every time. Lawyers live and die by the written word, which loses effectiveness when it is smudged and jagged. Overall, the Lexmark produces great-quality print, but it still doesn’t compare to a laser printer. Calling this a “professional series” printer doesn’t seem right to me, as a professional really needs a laser printer, not an inkjet.
This wouldn’t be a big deal if Lexmark included laser printers in its SmartSolutions line. But it doesn’t, at least not yet. If you want the nifty SmatSolutions stuff, you have to put up with inkjet quality. It’s a tough tradeoff.
At $300 for an all-in-one printer with two paper trays, the Platinum Pro905 is a pretty good deal. But what makes it a really good deal—if you are into the whole inkjet thing—is the cost of ink. You can find black ink refills for only $5. That’s about a third of what the competition charges.
I like the Lexmark Platinum Pro905, and I was surprised to find that I really liked the SmartSolutions features. If you are in the market for an inkjet all-in-one, check it out. If you are as much of a stickler for your printed product, try an inexpensive laser printer, instead.