The cost of the colour laser printer may have tumbled in the past two years, with some very powerful office models available for well under £300. But that's not to say that there isn't still plenty of demand for heavy-duty models in the mold of the Lexmark C734dn.
Businesses requiring large and frequent print jobs will relish the extensive array of paper handling facilities and general all-round performance of the Lexmark C734dn.
This is the most powerful model available in Lexmark's lavish selection of new workgroup-aimed printers. Meanwhile the even heftier and more costly C736 range targets large as well as medium-sized businesses. But for many a company, the Lexmark C734dn offers more than enough.
This particular model comes with 256MB of memory (with a maximum of 1280MB available) and a fast 600MHz processor. The default paper handling is strong, with a 550-sheet input tray accompanied by a 100-sheet multipurpose version, but extra trays and a high capacity feeder give you the option of stretching this to a sizeable 3750 sheets of paper.
The Lexmark C734dn output tray takes a mere 300 sheets. We weren't entirely impressed with the slightly shallow output tray itself, although you have to give the printer a hefty knock in order to dislodge paper from it, so we have to conclude that the design is probably more effective then it looks.
The Lexmark C734dn supports fast ethernet (100Mb/s) as standard, although you can buy additional upgrades to run it on, for example, a more secure fibre network. Alternatively, wireless access can be dropped in for an extra charge. Driver support is vast too, and it's the sheer versatility of the C734 range that places these printers ahead of the more limited £300 models.
The C734dn here is no great looker, although for all its potential it's not amazingly large either, taking up less room than the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7200Cdn, for example. The control panel looks rather dated, but it is extremely functional, offering easy access to virtually every aspect of the printer. That's something of a necessity in the case of a workgroup printer that won't necessarily be sited next to a convenient PC. A top-mounted USB port affords easy access to any pictures and other files stored on USB memory sticks.
In terms of print performance, the Lexmark C734dn is indeed faster than other laser printers we've seen, churning out high-resolution text at a rate of 21ppm. Once past the 11 second warm-up period, it turns out pages at a rate of almost 30ppm, so large print-jobs should be demolished in no time. The output is reasonably sharp, with good character definition.
Automatic duplexing is built into this model. We found the duplexing to be extremely effective, and it still turned out text at a rate of 13ppm, which is a good figure given the demands of double-sided printing. A cheaper version, the Lexmark C734dn, comes without duplexing for a saving of around £100.
Text running costs are good on the Lexmark C734dn - offering over twice the number of pages as the Canon LBP7200Cdn, despite that printer's toner costing a similar amount - although the colour is perhaps slightly less good value for money.
Colour graphics are available at a 13ppm rate, and the output here is perhaps a touch light and brash at its default settings, with a slightly reddish tinge to some images. The results remain attractive though.
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It perhaps won’t be superlative print quality that draws you to the Lexmark C734dn (although both text and graphics are quite easy on the eye), but if your business needs a heavy-duty printer packed with a huge range of options and possessed of considerable versatility, the C734dn fulfils most of its functions with a good deal to spare.