Lexmark Interpret S405 review:

Lexmark Interpret S405

The S405 ships with minimal paperwork to conserve paper, but you can access most of the instructions, warranty information, and promotional offers on the CD included in the box. Along with the drivers that support Windows 7, XP, and Vista and Mac OS X, the CD also automatically installs several Lexmark productivity programs on your computer. The Lexmark Toolbar gives you a shortcut bar on top of your Web browser for easy-access printing. Lexmark's Productivity Studio and Imaging Studio programs provide an easy way to autoedit or crop your photos and include them in a series of creative projects, and the Lexmark Service Center acts as a troubleshooting aide should you encounter a snag in the printing process.

On the other hand, the Canon Pixma MX410 offers all of the above with its Canon Solution Menu EX, but adds its new HD Movie Print feature that rewards adopters of the Canon hardware ecosystem with the ability to pull still snapshots out of videos shot with compatible HD video cameras. Canon's software also allows you to edit video images to prepare a clip for capture, and grabbing still shots from the video is as simple as selecting a video snippet and either capturing a group of 10 frames or hitting the "capture" button to select single images.

Like its linemates, the Interpret S405 excelled in all four of the output speed tests, although it still takes second place to the reigning champ of print speeds, the Epson WorkForce 610, which blows away the competition with 13.24 pages of text per minute, compared with the S405's 7.65 ppm. Lexmark also comes in second to Epson in the color graphics speed tests and the 10-page presentation speed test. We performed all tests using the printer's default setting, although it also offers a faster "economic" setting.

Printing performance (in ppm)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Presentation speed  
Photo speed  
Color graphics speed  
Text speed  
Epson WorkForce 610
Lexmark Interpret S405
HP Photosmart C6380
Canon Pixma MX410
Kodak ESP 5

The S405 outputs acceptable-quality prints, and black-text prints come close to laser quality with fully formed lines and crisp tones throughout the document. Thinner lines also appear rich with a slight hint of wicking that produces a blurred image, but such imperfections are acceptable with inkjet printers, especially at this price. We also have few complaints about the quality of color prints and snapshot photos. After closely examining several sample prints, we found all of the 4x 6-inch photos reproduced with a strong color gamut and little loss to overall quality, and we wouldn't hesitate to use this printer to submit professional documents like presentations and office handouts.

Service and support
Lexmark covers the Interpret S405 with a generous three-year warranty that includes lifetime priority phone support. The warranty will transfer ownership in case you want to sell the printer within that time. In addition, the Lexmark Web site's AnswerBase provides a comprehensive list of FAQs, how-tos, device specifications, warranty extension information, and driver updates. You can contact tech support via live chat or e-mail (they claim to respond within one business day) from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT on Saturdays. Finally, Lexmark also offers customer service training in both its printers and general computing at designated authorized locations. Online courses are also available.

The user reviews for the Lexmark Interpret S405 indicate widespread connection and installation snags, and while we didn't have the same experience, we don't doubt that these problems are occurring. Overall, we hesitate to recommend this printer for its mechanical failures and high cost of ownership, especially with alternatives like the Epson 610 (slightly pricier with many more features) and the Canon Pixma MX410 (slightly cheaper with the same features) available.

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