The unit has both Ethernet, USB, and Wi-Fi interfaces, standard duplex mode, and a color touch screen for control that also lets it be used directly with some cloud applications.
"We can offer a compelling design with no tradeoff in functionality for the SOHO environment," said Bill Lucas, director of worldwide product marketing at Lexmark, in Lexington, KY.
Lucas explained that the unit's scanner is built around a 10-megapixel digital camera and can scan a page in about three seconds instead of the usual 10. That is because it takes a snapshot of the page rather than moving a scanning bar down the page. The camera uses a fisheye lens to get the whole document, and then uses software to remove the resulting optical distortion.
The resolution of the scanner is actually 300 dpi, Lucas added. That is not leading-edge, but should suffice.
Meanwhile after each page is scanned, a preview of it appears on the unit's control screen, so you can see if the image is what you were hoping for before proceeding. As someone who has struggled to straighten images from pieces of paper that turned out to not be positioned squarely in the scanner, I appreciate the gesture.
The control screen can be used for a number of customized cloud-based applications, including news and Twitter access. For that to work the unit does not have to be connected to a computer (assuming it's online otherwise.)
Duplex printing comes standard. Lucas said that it works the usual way for a desktop unit, partially ejecting the paper, letting it dry for a moment, and then pulling it back in to do the other side. He said the drying processing does not take a perceptible amount of time and so duplex printing does not slow down the process. (I've seen it add 30 seconds per page.)
My view is that the appearance is interesting, the fast scanner is appealing, the cloud applications are part of the current industry trend, and the price is about right for the functionality-not that the image-conscious target market will care.
Disappointingly, the price and capacity of the ink cartridges don't break any barriers. The high-yield black (or monochrome) cartridge costs $24.99 and is rated at 510 pages, or 4.9 cents per page. Each of the three color cartridges cost $17.99 and are rated at 200 pages.