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The Impact S305 is Lexmark's budget printer for homes that don't have a lot of money to spend but still want the added functionality of a multifunction printer. We hesitate to slap the "all-in-one" label on it, as the device has no dedicated fax capability. It can print, scan, and copy, however, with ease and impressive speed. The Impact S305 not only printed faster than every competitor in the sub-$100 range, but also maintained a solid quality rating across every sample print. The $99 Lexmark Impact doesn't flaunt the most groundbreaking design, but we suspect you will find the printer's speed and efficiency equally satisfying.
Design and Features
Sub-$100 printers hardly ever cause a stir in attractive designs, but we were surprised to see the low-profile, sleek silhouette on the Lexmark Impact S305. Sitting at 7 inches tall by 18 inches wide by 16 inches deep, the printer is by no means compact, but its short stature and lack of protruding accessories keep the package tight and visually appealing. The top of the scanner cover features small perforations complemented by a glossy gray border and a matte black overlay that should have no problems fitting in with the rest of your office theme.
The control panel sits on the front face and can either stay flush within the unit or rotate out at an angle for unobstructed visibility. Given the limited set of features, this cockpit only gives you the minimum buttons necessary to operate the printer: a large power button and a setup key live on the top left, followed by start and stop buttons and a color/black toggle on the top right, and a 2-inch LCD with a navigational pad and three feature buttons for Copy, Scan, and Photo are accessible right in the middle. All of the buttons on the control panel light up in the dark, as well.
The Impact's biggest competitor in terms of price and features is the Canon PIXMA MX330, another budget multifunction printer with gains over Lexmark in LCD size and an included automatic document feeder. Lexmark gets points for including a media card reader with a Pictbridge USB port on the lower half of the machine. The reader supports SD, MemoryStick, xD, and MMC cards, effectively letting you leave the USB cable for your digital camera at home.
You get another USB port on the back for a direct connection to your host computer, but you can also use the built-in 802.11g/b Wireless print server. Setting up the wireless connection is a simple matter of inserting the included setup CD and running through the connection wizard. We also hand it to Lexmark for offering a foolproof step-by-step guide on the CD that holds your hand through the initial setup.
The Impact S305 can handle up to 100 sheets of plain paper in the rear-loading, adjustable tray, and all prints shoot out of the front onto an extendable plastic arm. This method is standard for modern printers, but office jockeys used to robust features like auto-document feeding, double-sided printing, extra-large paper trays, and alternate page layouts might find Lexmark's Platinum Pro 905 more tailored to their needs.