Lexmark’s C734DN has something of the angularity of Kyocera’s offering about it, though its front panel offered a lesson in ergonomics that the other manufacturers could have learned from. The instant we took it from its packaging we liked the positioning of all the most regularly used controls on the top, along the bevelled front edge. This included the USB flash media and PictBridge port. Once we’d unpacked and positioned the unit we turned to the toner: the cartridges are inserted horizontally into the front of the printer after unlatching and pulling down the front panel.
Turning on the C734DN produced the first, and only, shock: the mechanical noise was extremely loud. We hadn’t any measuring equipment to hand, but measured subjectively against the other printers it was certainly the loudest on test.
Once we’d installed the Lexmark drivers on our Mac, the C734DN was simplicity itself to set up using Bonjour. Snow Leopard even found more up-to-date drivers, downloading and installing them in a matter of minutes. The Lexmark C734DN supports fast Ethernet (100Mbps) as standard and you can buy additional upgrades to run it on a more secure fibre network.
We were also impressed with the build quality of this unit. For instance, instead of having a system of flimsy internal sliders, which can sometimes stick and snap, the paper drawer itself extended smoothly to accommodate different sizes of paper: another sign that intelligence had been applied to practically every aspect of the design.
We then moved on to the speed tests. The one-page Word document printed in 14 seconds, 10-page Word document in 32 seconds, and the 14-page duplex PDF in 59 seconds. The JPEG (at photo quality) printed out in 43 seconds.
These figures mean that the Lexmark was the fastest on test for the photo quality JPEG and the duplexing, and fourth for the Word tests. As for the output quality, the C734DN was judged to have the best range of tones from lightest to the darkest, and good reproduction of flesh tones. Text was also well-rendered and clear down to 4 point.