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Lexmark Z33 Inkjet Printer Review

Lexmark Z33 test

| Lexmark Z33 in Inkjet Printers
Lexmark aren't as widely known in the photography printer market as say Hewlett Packard or Epson. This is largely due to the huge range from these competitors pushing Lexmark out of the spotlight. However, this does not mean that Lexmark's products don't have their merits. Take this Z33 model, for example, Lexmark have provided it with 2400x1200dpi resolution, quite impressive for a printer being sold for around 70. Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer

Design, interfaces and installation
Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer
This printer only has a USB connection, and making a welcome appearance is a cable for it, something many manufacturers don't bother to include.

Both the upper and lower paper trays can be completely folded up making the printer very compact. The trays aren't as well built as some more expensive printers, but shouldn't cause any problems.

The printer uses separate colour and black cartridges (shown to the right), these are not cheap to replace at about 20 each. Fitting them is easy with the printer having corresponding coloured holders to the cartridges.

The manual is quite small, but installation and setup is explained very well and those new to printers shouldn't have any major problems.

Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer

A CD containing drivers and a manual is supplied in the box, no other applications are included probably because of the printer's low price. The setup is straightforward, and the printer takes you through an automated, well guided process to ensure the print heads are correctly aligned. The software gives the option of voice confirmation of printing starting and finishing, something some people may find useful. When you chose to print an image you are given a variety of setup options (shown in the animated picture below):

Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer

An unusual feature is the print status window which can be modified dramatically by changing its 'skin'. This allows you to play with its appearance and many skins are available from the Lexmark website. Below is the print status window with a before shot and after shot sporting thenew skin:

Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer
Before After

Text page print speeds are quite slow, so this wouldn't be suitable for an environment where text printing was used a lot. Graphics and photos take even longer and with a time of over 10 minutes for one full A4 page it's not going to win any speed awards, though for 70 the lack of speed is understandable.
Print-type Speed Quality mode
Mono text 3.2ppm Draft
Mono text 2.9ppm Standard
Colour Graphics 1.5ppm Draft
Colour Graphics 0.36ppm Standard
Photo (A4 full page) 0.07ppm Photo

The Z33 specification states that noise levels reach 44dBA, however we found the noise levels to be very good. It even seemed to be quieter than the recently reviewed Canon BubbleJet S800 (specified 37dBA), which retails at over 200 more than the Lexmark.

Print Quality
Despite taking such a long time to print an A4 photo we didn't find the quality very impressive. The printer does have its redeeming features, from a distance the prints appear much more pleasing to the eye, and seem to be very sharp. All these images were printed out on glossy Sigel Inkjet paper - Lexmark do not include sample paper in the box so don't forget to pick up a pack.

Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer
At first the print appears quite good, but on closer inspection several flaws are present. The large expanse of brick surrounding the clock is dark brown rather than dark black. The printer has had problems resolving some of the finer detail in the picture, particularly in dark areas. Dynamic range is poor, with the wooden framing supporting the signs being very dull and lacking the colour of the original. Print head dots are unfortunately plainly visible over the entire picture.

Skin tone
The printer has done a good job here of producing some of the finer details in the picture. Single hairs appear sharp as does the fabric of the man's jacket. However the same problem with colour rendition remains with skin tone being reproduced inaccurately. Dark areas in the picture such as around the sunglasses and the background are still too light and muddy, and some dark areas are lacking the original's detail. Dots are not so immediately visible in this picture, mainly due to the amount of variation disguising them. Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer

Colour rendition in this picture although inaccurate, is still quite pleasing to the eye, with good levels of detail backing it up. However the same stumbling blocks remain, and there is a distracting amount of dots in the sky which almost detract attention away from the boat. Lexmark Z33 inkjet printer

Although there are a lot of negative points in the print quality test, we were expecting some from a 70 printer, and other inkjets in this price range will share the same problems and possibly add more. The printer does have the advantage of being quiet and compact, and having good software. If you are new to digital imaging and only want to print a few pictures occasionally then this could suit you very well. However if you are demanding great picture quality on a budget, you will have to spend more than 70. Bare in mind also that the two print cartridges cost around 20 each, and that there are several printers on the market now with separate cartridges for the various colours, saving you ink and money in the long run. All together though, Lexmark have designed a good value for money printer, which should end up on many peoples short-list.
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