Businesses shopping for a new multifunction printer already have enough decisions to make without throwing a touch-screen option into the mix, but most of the big printer vendors already have models with one or one in the works. We've reviewed the Brother MFC-990CW and the HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless, but Lexmark's latest printer, the $400 Platinum Pro 905, forges into new territory by offering a touch screen without any additional buttons.
To get around the benefits of having such buttons (shortcuts, essentially), you can connect the printer directly to the Internet and browse a handful of "Smart Solutions," Lexmark's nickname for customizable widgets that you can add to the touch-screen's display. It's a great idea and works effortlessly with the hardware, but the Platinum Pro 905 suffers from iPhone syndrome. Sometimes, hard buttons just make things easier, especially in a business environment. Instead of the Platinum Pro 905, we recommend the HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless, it's a more utilitarian solution for businesses that can use a touch screen for creative purposes without sacrificing efficiency and time.
Design and features
The Lexmark Platinum Pro 905 is the expected size for a business-ready printer, copier, scanner, and fax machine. It measures 12.1 inches tall by 18.31 inches wide by 15.42 inches long. The printer makes a departure from Lexmark's former glossy white Apple-esque aesthetic in favor of a darker, more professional-looking design. In addition, the entire printer--including the paper trays drawers, touch screen, and even the auto-document feeder--are void of sharp edges, creating a look (in conjunction with the blacks and dark grays) that summons memories of Tie Fighters in that old space wars movie, whose name currently escapes me.
There isn't a lot happening on the front of the printer. The only hard button on the 4.3-inch "MyTouch" LCD is a small power button to the left of the touch panel, leaving a small Wi-Fi status indicator and a media card reader with a PictBridge USB port on the right to round out its face. The paper tray at the bottom is another feature that gives the Platinum Pro 905 an advantage over its competition. Instead of creating just a simple tray like so many others before it, the printer actually has a silo drawer built into the base that adds more heft and durability to the 150-sheet container. Additionally, the Platinum Pro 905 also includes another 150-sheet paper tray, bumping the total capacity to 300 sheets of paper. However, there is a downside. Only the first tray has the necessary guides to accommodate 4x6-inch photo paper--the bottom drawer only supports legal and letter sizes. The lower tray is also easy to detach from the rest of the machine if you're trying to save space on a desk.
The entire control panel is 9.5 inches wide, but the actual display is only 4.3 inches long. The screen is bright and easy to read, but we wish you could adjust the display's angle. Instead, it sits at a fixed level that's a little hard to read unless you're standing directly over the printer. As expected, the black reflective LCD is also a serious fingerprint magnet. Four large icons are prominently displayed on the home screen, including one for "Smart Solutions" that brings you to a customizable menu for all your downloaded applications. Hitting one of the "add more applications" plus icons takes you to the SmartSolutions landing page where you have to register for a user name and password. From here, you can connect the printer to a network with an Ethernet cord or you can connect wirelessly through the Setup Utility built into the driver; however, Bluetooth isn't supported on the printer.
We were able to set up the printer to communicate with our lab test system and the Internet connection in less than 10 minutes; however, we encountered a snag in our own security that forced us to use Wi-Fi. Lexmark already offers a handful of free solutions in its library that you can add to the printer, ranging from direct application shortcuts (scan to e-mail, scan to fax, copy, and so on) to photo viewers (Photobucket and Picasa), and online apps like Google Calendar. Once you drag an application to the window that represents your printer, the software immediately gives you even more customization options by way of various icons, relabeling, print quality, and so on. You can also adjust each solution to a different setting. Once you're satisfied with the order and layout of your new apps, it takes almost no time to sync them to the printer, where they will show up under the "SmartSolutions" button on the home screen.
Currently, there are only 12 additional SmartSolutions available to add to the printer, but most of them are simply application shortcuts that would probably exist as physical buttons on any other printer--options such as scan to fax, scan to file, copy, and so on. According to Lexmark, more exciting applications are on the way, but the app store is still lacking--for now.
We tested all of the SmartSolutions and one of our favorites is the Eco-Copy shortcut that lets you customize a button to immediately print on both sides of a sheet of paper using minimal ink and at a low quality. We also commend Lexmark for building a cartridge finder SmartSolution that locates and prints out a copy of a map showing the nearest retailers carrying the ink cartridges for the Platinum Pro 905. The driver gives you the option to print using all available ink, black ink, or color ink only to extend the life of consumables.