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The Z65n was unveiled with a press release that included such bold statements as 'Photography buffs will appreciate the superb detail and vivid colour'. It is a slightly higher featured model than the Z65, adding network printing functionality. In fact, the majority of this review would be identical in a Z65 review.
The biggest boast of these two printers is the Lexmark PrecisionPhoto technology that enables printing at 4800x1200dpi. However these high figures alone don't automatically qualify this as a printer 'Photography buffs' will want to own. Here are some of the main features the Z65n offers.
- Black and tricolor cartridges
- Automatic Cartridge Alignment
- Automatic Paper Type Sensing
- Accu-Feed Paper Handling
- Dual paper trays for faster media transition
- Network capable
- USB connectivity
- Retail price of 179, online price around 163
- Z65 priced at 129 retail, or 116 online
- Detailed Lexmark Z65n specifications
Design, interfaces and installation
The footprint of the Lexmark is reasonably compact and the paper trays and holders fold up well. The curved design is quite stylish and build quality is good.
In designing this printer Lexmark have looked beyond print quality issues and paid attention to other features users could benefit from.
Their Accu-feed technology aims to keep the paper print area parallel to the edge of the sheet and reduce the chances of jamming. Testing this for the first time I have to admit I was impressed. It's something that a lot of photographers may never need, but in a family environment with children using this printer it could prove very useful.
Also offering extra convenience is the automatic paper-type detection. This, Lexmark say, is able to detect between plain paper, coated paper, glossy/photo paper and transparencies. Printer settings in the driver are set accordingly but this feature can't be relied upon with all paper types.
Automatic print-head alignment is another feature making this printer easy to setup for the first time user.
USB, power and network connections are located at the rear.
Twin paper trays offer extra convenience.
The printer driver uses the same system as other Lexmark printers we've seen and it is sensibly laid out. There are commonly used procedures in the 'I want to' menu and you have the option to save settings. However the paper choices are limited and we'd like to see a wider selection available.
The print status window shows information on the remaining ink and can have its appearance changed through skins.
Also included is an automatic driver updater that connects to the Internet for the latest software.
Despite numerous attempts I could not get the Network printing function to work and then the printer had to go back. This feature will probably be of limited interest to the majority of photographers and most people would, I assume, want to save around 50 and buy the standard Z65.
Despite the high figures quoted in Lexmark specifications, the majority of prints from the Z65 were slow. The exception to this was the draft text mode which spat out pages very quickly but with a significant sacrifice in quality. Normal text printing was reasonably fast but things from then on got worse, with a very slow best quality text mode performance.
Both colour graphics and photo printing were also very slow. With printers available on the market such as the Canon S750 that turn out a colour photo in a quarter of the time it takes the Z65, things don't look good.
|Print type||Paper type||Print Time|
|Full page text||A4 plain||17 sec|
|Five pages of text||A4 plain||1 min 10 sec|
|Colour graphics||A4 Photo Paper||6 min 53 sec|
|High quality settings photo||A4 Photo Paper||11 min 41sec|
Our print samples varied considerably. Using some ICI satin paper our standard test print showed the Z65 to be capable of producing fine details well but also exhibited poor levels of colour saturation with the print appearing dull. The same print with Canon Photo Paper pro produced vibrant colours and a higher level of contrast.
The Z65n uses a basic tricolor cartridge system. This has helped keep the cost of the printers design and development down but compromises the quality of printing possible. They are also not cheap, costing around 22 for the black and 25 for the colour and they also don't offer a very large capacity. Combined with the high 4800dpi printing this means they won't last long and the printer will be more expensive than average to run.
The progressive greyscale test showed that on Canon Photo Paper Pro the Z65n is capable of producing the greyscale range well with no sign of a colour cast. The automatic head-alignment performed well, with there being no evidence of the banding commonly seen with mis-aligned heads.
|Canon S750||Lexmark Z65n|
Comparing the same print from the Z65n and the Canon S750, the Z65n ink drops are harder to spot. Yet a disturbing feature of the Z65n was the amount of detail being lost in the red area of the boys clothing shown above. Overall, despite having easier to spot ink droplets the S750 produces a more pleasing to the eye print.
|The details in the darkest areas of this image were shown well but the print lacked the photo-quality feel of the Canon S750 print.|
Finer details of the image were shown well but the glaring over-saturated red areas spoilt the print.
Producing the best results so far, skin details showed up very clearly producing an average photo-realistic print.
The text performance of the Z65n was average, with the normal quality mode being reasonably sharp. The high quality mode produced a shadowed effect, making it far worse than normal mode.
The Z65n has features that will be useful to those starting out in inkjet printing. However despite Lexmarks claims to the contrary, I do not feel this is a printer suitable for 'Photography buffs'. Mediocre print quality combined with slow performance and high running costs mean appeal is limited.
Ultimately this printer would be suited to those wanting a small amount of reasonable quality prints with a high level of ease of use. Those with more confidence in setting up and configuring inkjet printers would be far better off looking at offerings from Canon and Epson.