Printer owners continue to complain about the costs of consumables, such as ink cartridges and paper. Now Lexmark has set out to confound them with its Z735, an ink-jet printer that takes just one, three-colour cartridge, costing £13.50 a throw. The argument is that this is both cheap and simple for the first-time buyer, but are we getting all the facts, or is the company trying to resell an old idea, which most makers have since moved beyond?
Lexmark starts by setting a possible new price record, by giving the machine an RRP of just £50. That's good, but we’ve found a source http://www.pixmania.co.uk advertising it at just £30, including VAT and due in stock by the time you read this. That’s more than good.
The Z735 has a very conventional design and a boxy appearance, though with rounded edges. Paper feeds from a near-vertical rear tray to an extendable one at the front. There are two control buttons, one to switch the printer on and off and the other to feed paper. A single USB 2.0 socket at the rear connects the printer to a PC.
A plug-in power-supply block clips in at the back of the printer. This seems a much better solution to having a product available globally with all the different mains supplies that entails, than providing a black block which kicks around under your desk all the time.
Set up is certainly as easy as Lexmark makes out. You lift the cover on the top of the printer and the cartridge carrier slides to the centre of the carriage. Unclip the carrier and slot in the single cartridge, re-clip the carrier and swing the cover down to complete installation.
Software installation is just as straightforward and provides you with the now well established Lexmark print driver, complete with verbal messages. There’s also FastPix, which organises your image files, offers simple editing like red-eye removal, and handles image selection for printing. Finally, the Solution Center deals with changing cartridges, troubleshooting and other help issues.
Lexmark claims 15ppm in draft mode for both black text and colour images. We test in normal mode, as we believe that’s what most people use, and it repeatedly took over two and a half minutes to print our five-page text document. That equates to just under 2ppm, not a good result. Our page of text and colour graphics took 39 seconds to complete, so again, something under 2ppm. This is a slow printer.