By Harry McCracken | Friday, October 15, 2010 at 11:18 am
All of a sudden, ink jet printer companies are trying out some radically new designs–ones that stray far afield from printer form factors that have changed very little over the past fifteen years or so. Last month, HP announced the Envy 100, a low-profile all-in-one that looks rather like a 1980s-era VCR. And now Lexmark is unveiling the Genesis, an unusually high-profile all-in-one. The tall-boy design has a purpose: It permits for a thirty-percent smaller footprint. And Lexmark accomplished it by incorporating a scanner that’s unlike any I’ve seen before.
First of all, the scanner bed is vertical rather than horizontal: You pull down the front of the Genesis, revealing a platen inside that you lean your document against. And there’s no scanning bar that runs its way across the document to capture it–instead, Lexmark is using digital-camera technology. There’s a lens at the back of the Genesis that snaps a picture of your image. Since no moving parts are involved, scans are fast: Lexmark says that preview mode is “instant” and that the Genesis can do a full scan in as little as three seconds.
The vertical design means you can’t slap down multiple small documents (such as receipts) any which way, but a clip at the top lets you fasten items such as photos into place at the top of scanning bed, then position others at its bottom. A Lexmark representative told me that the Genesis is actually better for scanning bound volumes than traditional scanners, because it’s less likely to render scans illegible by producing a pitch-black shadow effect around the binding. I’d be curious to see how it fared with a variety of typical items. (Unlike some less creative designs, it doesn’t do sheet-fed scanning of multiple-page documents.)
The Genesis has a 4.3″ MyTouch color touch-screen–similar to the ones on recent HP printers–and Lexmark’s SmartSolutions, a Web-connected system for automating common printing tasks and providing document-related apps. (For instance, you can scan an image directly from the Genesis into your Evernote account.) The printer will sell for $399 and Lexmark plans to start shipping it early next year.