Lexmark’s big selling-point for the Christmas season, 2007 will be Wi-Fi, a wireless connection for most of the ink-jet printers and all-in-ones in its new range. The Z1420 is the cheapest Wi-Fi printer in that range, and possibly the cheapest Wi-Fi printer in the UK. A good printer takes more than an ethereal connection though, so does the rest of the device stand up?
This is an unusually wide printer, but also quite deep if you extend the output paper tray, since pages finish up nearly a full page-length in front of the machine. The input tray, which folds down on top of the printer when you’re not printing, is accompanied by a small, spring-loaded, smoked plastic ‘windscreen’ in front, the function of which isn't clear.
The only control on the Z4120 is an illuminated power button, and there's a second indicator, in the form of the Wi-Fi logo on the front panel. This glows orange when the printer’s connected via USB and green when working wirelessly. A power supply block clips in at, and sticks out from, the rear of the machine and the only other socket is a single USB 2.0 port.
The printer takes two cartridges, a tri-colour one and either a black or three colour photo cartridge, for optional six colour printing. They're both easy to install, once you've lifted the small cover in the centre of the machine and unclipped their colour-coded carriers.
You can set up the Z1420 for USB or Wi-Fi print, but for either installation you need to be able to connect the printer to a PC with a USB cable. In both cases you'll be instructed when to connect the cable, once drivers have been installed from the CD, but with the Wi-Fi installation, you'll be told when you can disconnect it again. There's no need to enter IP addresses, assuming there's a DHCP server somewhere on your network. You can convert from USB to Wi-Fi connections easily too, so the printer can be useful, even if you don't already have a Wi-Fi network
There's a fairly simple software bundle supplied with the printer, comprising the largely maintenance-led Solution Centre and Lexmark's Imaging Studio, for simple photo editing.
The two types of document you may want to print with the Z1420 take very different times to print. A straight text document, thanks to the long swathe of the black print head, comes through quickly enough. Our five-page text document took only 50 seconds, giving a real-time speed of 6ppm. Not earth-shattering, but not bad for a printer costing under £50.