Lexmark C734dn review

£569
Price when reviewed

With so much choice for workgroup colour lasers, it’s going to take something special to stand out in this crowded market. Lexmark’s C730 family aims to do this with high print speeds of 28ppm for both mono and colour, as well as top output quality and features.

Lexmark C734dn review

The C734dn can cope with a busy office too. The base capacity of 650 sheets can be expanded with two further 550-sheet trays and a high-capacity 2,000-sheet feeder.

The C734dn on review comes as standard with an integral duplex unit, and you can opt for a special media tray that supports narrow media that won’t fit in the standard trays. Output options don’t match up, though, as the shallow 300-page bin in the top of the printer can’t be expanded.

General running costs come under Lexmark’s spotlight with its Coverage Estimator tool. This analyses the pixels on each page and estimates how much cyan, magenta, yellow and black toner was used to create it. The calculations are printed on an extra sheet at the end of each job, so you’ll need to factor in the extra paper costs this tool will generate against what it can save.

There are plenty of consumables, with a toner cartridge and photoconductor combo for each colour. Lexmark’s toner return program yields the best printing costs, but they’re comparatively high: a mono A4 page will set you back 1.4p, while full colour ups this to 9p.

Lexmark C734dn

Initial running costs will be even higher as Lexmark engages in the annoying practice of shipping the printer with 4,000-page starter cartridges. You get 256MB of memory included, but think carefully about upgrading as Lexmark plays the same game as HP and charges more than £400 for 512MB of DDR2 RAM.

The print engine offers a true 1,200 x 1,200dpi and the printer’s driver defaults on all settings to an interpolated 4,800dpi mode, which can be set back to 1,200dpi.

Lexmark easily delivers in the speed stakes, with a basic 28-page Word document produced in only 58 seconds. Our 24-page DTP document with its heavy-duty graphics and photos didn’t faze the C734dn either. It delivered at 27ppm using the Text/Photo and Photo driver modes.

Output quality was a mixed bag. Although text was clean and sharp across a range of font sizes, and photos and graphics showed an impressive amount of detail, we couldn’t ignore the pink colour cast it left in lighter areas of our test prints – a problem we’ve seen before in Lexmark’s lasers.

Running our colour performance chart confirmed our suspicions that Lexmark was being too generous with the magenta toner. Grey shades using different mixes of cyan, magenta and yellow showed this all too clearly, which was at its worst when using the driver’s Photo setting.

With a price tag the right side of £500, the C734dn is good value for a 28ppm colour laser. Print speed is on the money and it offers a good choice of expansion and print options, but it really is about time Lexmark sorted out its colour coordination problems.

Printer language & OS Support

PCL level 6
PostScript level 3

Basic Specifications

Colour? yes
Resolution printer final 1200 x 1200dpi
Rated/quoted print speed 28PPM
Maximum paper size A4
Duplex function yes

Running costs

Cost per A4 mono page 1.4p
Cost per A4 colour page 9.0p

Consumables

Monthly duty cycle 85,000 pages
Drum life N/A
Fuser life N/A
Transfer-belt life N/A
Standard mono toner life 8,000 pages
High-yield mono toner life N/A
Standard colour toner life 6,000
High-yield colour toner life N/A

Power and noise

Peak noise level 54.0dB(A)
Dimensions 450 x 435 x 470mm (WDH)

Performance tests

Mono print speed (measured) 28ppm
Colour print speed 28ppm

Media Handling

Input tray capacity 650 sheets
Output tray capacity 300 sheets

Connectivity

USB connection? yes
Ethernet connection? yes
Bluetooth connection? no
PictBridge port? no
Other connections None

OS Support

Operating system Windows 7 supported? yes
Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Windows 2000 supported? yes
Operating system Windows 98SE supported? no
Other operating system support Mac OS 9.2 and X, various Linux implementations, various Novell implementations, Sun Solaris SPARC and x86, IBM AIX

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