Amazingly, the Lexmark Z735 printer costs less to buy than a single ink cartridge for some other printers, at just £25. It also uses just one cartridge, which combines cyan, magenta and yellow inks, leaving black out of the equation altogether. The plus point is that consumables couldn't be any easier to buy or to fit.
The downside is that black text is horrendously expensive to produce, combining all three colours in 'composite' fashion. The so-called 'Number 1' cartridge costs between £16 and £18 depending on where you buy it.
For colour work, the Lexmark actually works out to be a very cheap printer to run, costing exactly £1 for ink for a full A4 photo. Add this to the purchase price and the Z735 looks an attractive option if you're on the tightest of budgets.
The main drawback for photo printing is that, with its humble three-ink process, the Z735 falls well short of other printers for image quality. Colour accuracy proved inconsistent and was particularly poor for pastel shades and skin tones, while vivid colours also lacked any real degree of vibrancy.
Speed is another factor lacking from the Z735's feature list and it is easily one of the slowest printers for photo output in normal or top-quality modes. As you'd probably expect from a £25 printer, there are also no extras in the shape of card readers, an LCD screen or even PictBridge support, so the overall feel is of a basic package.
Even so, if your children have colour documents or photos that they want to print out for school use, the Z735 still has a role to play if you're not too fussy about quality and want something cheap that does the job. Matthew Richards