We like the Lexmark Pro715's updated design and quick print speeds, but looks aside, its core is a near replica of the previous model, the Prevail Pro705. That printer earned a rating of Excellent for its simple control panel and studio-quality snapshots, but there aren't enough updates in this new version to catch it up to the Epson WorkForce 845, a competing device worthy of its "all-in-one" moniker with mobile printing features, a massive 500-sheet paper input capacity, and a generous 7.8-inch interactive display. By comparison, the Lexmark Pro715 comes up disappointingly short, and small offices and busy home users will get more done with the WorkForce 845 at the same price.
Design and features
Like the Pro705 before it, the Pro715 has a drab gray-black color palette that may have earned points with us in the past, but now feels all too typical of an office printer. Its smooth edges and rounded paper input tray shave off the sharp corners and make the device look more streamlined, but the general design of the line has changed very little.
The most significant changes to the body involve the small LCD display that now sits flush in a much more streamlined control panel in the center of the unit. Thankfully, the clear plastic window protecting the function buttons that once marred the top is now absent, but instead of relocating them to another part of the panel, Lexmark got rid of the shortcut buttons altogether and integrated them into the virtual menu panel. We don't mind, but it certainly prevents you from simply walking up to the device and selecting Copy, Scan, Fax, or Print.
Instead of the large touch-screen LCD you get on the Epson WorkForce 845, the Pro715 has a 2.4-inch color LCD display with a directional panel just to the right for scrolling through onscreen menus, as well as a number pad for dialing fax numbers.
Lexmark also includes an Eco Mode button marked with a green leaf on the right side that triggers two-sided printing, copying, and faxing thanks to the duplexer on the back. Lexmark also lowers your ecological footprint with continued Energy Star certification, and an updated black "setup-capacity" Vizix 2.0 print cartridge rated at 400 pages per cartridge is included in the box.
The silo paper drawer is built into the base and can only hold 150 sheets of paper, which may be enough for a small business. Still, many businesses may find the Epson WorkForce more convenient with its 250-sheet tray for standard 8.5x11-inch paper and separate 250-sheet tray for photo paper.
Strangely enough, Lexmark decided not to include a media card reader like the one to be found on the bottom right side of the Pro705 model, perhaps to inspire customers to spend the extra $50 on the step-up Pro915. Again, for the same price as the Pro715, the Epson WorkForce has two media card slots on the front in addition to a PictBridge-compatible USB port for direct prints from your digital camera. You even get a copy of Epson's Easy Photo Print software in the box for light image editing.
You can connect the Pro715 to a host computer using an 802.11b/g/n wireless setup or via a hardwired USB port. With the included driver disc, we were able to set up the printer to communicate using both connection methods in less than 10 minutes; just make sure you have your network log-in and password available.
The printer is one of many to feature Lexmark's newest Vizix 2.0 individual ink cartridges, with one pigment black for printing text and three dye-based yellow, cyan, and magenta cartridges for color photos. The new cartridges are $10 more than the previous 100XL inks, and although we appreciated that Lexmark included high-capacity inks in the box, the results of our print quality test suggest that won't offset the extra money you'll spend in the long term by using the more expensive inks. In fact, if you're absolutely married to the Lexmark brand, we recommend checking out online stores like Amazon.com that are currently offering the Pro705 at half the price.
The Pro715 ships with minimal paperwork to conserve paper, and 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 XP, Windows 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 way to autoedit or crop your photos and include them in projects, and the Lexmark Service Center is intended to help in troubleshooting any snags in the printing process. We also enjoyed using the onscreen progress bar that automatically pops up when you print. It shows you the progress of your job in an easy-to-read percentage bar (the LCD on the control panel also shows the progress) and displays a graphic representation of your ink depletion with a warning when the paper trays are running low.
The Lexmark Platinum Pro715 performed at an average speed in our comparison testing, nowhere near the chart-topping Epson WorkForce 845. In all four benchmarks, the WorkForce 845 nearly cut the Pro715's print time in half, which will certainly add up if you're constantly using the device at work.
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However, we will say that the quality of the Pro715's black and color prints in both our graphic and text-document tests surpasses that of the first version of the Vizix brand of inks. Perhaps not enough to warrant a $10 increase in the price of each cartridge that will need to be replaced, but the current Lexmark printers' permanent print head with separate ink tanks continues to impress us with the vibrancy and solidity of its output. We noticed very few blurred lines and imperfections, and we wouldn't hesitate to use the Pro715 professionally. Then again, the Epson didn't disappoint us either, and since they cost the same, we're sticking with our recommendation of the WorkForce 845.
Service and support
We're wagging a big finger at Lexmark for downgrading the Pro705's generous five-year warranty to just one year for the Pro715. The extended limited warranty that used to cover ownership transfer in case you wanted to sell the printer in five years is now downgraded to one year as well, even for the more expensive Pro915. We're disappointed at Lexmark's unwillingness to support its users beyond the standard warranty term.
With limited upgrades to its design and severe downgrades to the warranty program and cost of consumables, we recommend staying far away from the Pro715 in favor of the Epson WorkForce 845. Though it also only carries a one-year warranty and the quality of its print output is about the same, you get a much larger paper tray and access to Epson's mobile printing suite of applications.
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Editors' note: This review was updated with correct information about the included print cartridge.