Lexmark Z735 review

Price when reviewed

Lexmark’s new Z735 is an entry-level inkjet that aims to make the process of printing mono and colour documents as simple as possible. There’s just one cartridge, a tri-colour called Simply1, and no low or high capacities to worry about: just a simple £14 replacement each time it runs out.

Lexmark Z735 review

Installation is simple too, and the driver is sensibly laid out, offering a selection of tasks such as ‘print a banner’ or ‘print on both sides of the paper’. It’s also divided into speed/quality, layout and paper setup tabs for manually applying settings.

The printer itself is simple too, with a basic fold-up rear input tray and pull-out output tray. Build quality isn’t up to the standard of the HP or Epson: there’s no brushed metal lid here, just off-white plastic, which is very lightweight. The absence of anything except power and cancel buttons on the top makes the Z735 feel much cheaper than its rivals, which are only slightly more expensive.

The single cartridge means that any black text has to be made up from cyan, yellow and magenta, but you wouldn’t immediately know it from the mono text we saw. At normal quality, characters were fairly sharp, although much more grey than printers with a dedicated black cartridge. However, draft quality saw banding plague printouts and, despite claims of 15ppm, we saw only 6.7ppm – the slowest on test. This reduced to just 2.6ppm in normal mode.

The quality of colour documents, such as our Streetmap test, was reasonable, but finer details like street names weren’t as readable as on the Canon iP2200.

Lexmark told us that the Z735 wasn’t intended for photo printing, but both Lexmark’s website and driver suggest otherwise. For example, the Z735 supports borderless prints from 6 x 4in up to A4 and one of the tasks on offer in the driver is ‘Print a photo’. Plus, Lexmark’s FastPics software is included in the box and makes light work of printing borderless photos.

The quality of both A4 and 6 x 4in photo looks okay from a distance, but move any closer and the grain (as with the Dell) is all too visible. Considering that all the other budget printers except the Dell and P915 are virtually grain-free, the Z735 can’t be excused on the grounds of price.

Fortunately, it’s capable of producing decent-quality mono prints; our test photo showed good contrast and detail, but again, look closely and the dots are visible. No figures are available for fade resistance, since Lexmark recommends you buy the P915 if you want to print photos that last. But, if print permanence is important, look at the HP 5940, which delivers better quality than both the P915 and Z735.

Photo speed isn’t a particular strong point either. It took the Z735 two minutes, 39 seconds to print a borderless 6 x 4in print, and just shy of five minutes for our A4 photomontage. To put this in context, the Canon iP2200 can print a 6 x 4in photo in 56 seconds and an A4 print in a little over three-and-a-half minutes.

Running costs are surprisingly affordable, though, beating both the Canon and HP 5940. But the Z735’s lack of quality, speed and features mean the competitive running costs and ease of use aren’t enough to put it in awards territory. If you’re on a tight budget, look at the Epson R240. It might cost £34 more, but it offers better quality and even lower running costs.

Running costs

It would be unprofessional to award brownie points to the Z735 for being the easiest printer to test, but it’s safe to say it captured a snug little corner of our hearts with its single-cartridge print engine. It certainly compared favourably to the eight-ink systems favoured by Canon and Epson.

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