Lexmark Z2420 Wireless Inkjet Printer
At a Glance
The Z2420 Wireless is cheap, and Wi-Fi makes it versatile, but it's otherwise a typical and somewhat slow machine.
Though the Lexmark Z2420 Wireless color inkjet printer seems to be just another low-cost, bare-bones model, it has a major edge in its integrated 802.11b/g wireless connectivity, which gives it a flexibility that few other printers in this price range can boast. Unfortunately it needs all the help it can get, because its performance is mediocre.
The Z2420 performed adequately--barely--in our tests. It produced text at a rate of 10.1 pages per minute, just slightly above average for this category. When printing color graphics, however, it posted the slowest times of the tested group. The Epson Stylus C120 was a lot faster by comparison.
The Z2420's print quality rose or fell depending on the type of paper. On the plain paper we use (Hammermill LaserPrint), the black ink faded to charcoal and tended to spread on the page, resulting in slightly faded and fuzzy-looking letters. Color photos also appeared faded and grainy. On Lexmark's own photo paper, the same images brightened and showed improved, crisper details. Canon's Pixma iP2600 managed better overall quality on both plain and special papers.
Lexmark calculates its ink yields using a suite of typical documents. The cartridges that ship with the Z2420 poop out pretty quickly, after 175 pages for the black one and 150 pages for the tricolor (cyan, magenta, and yellow) cartridge. High-yield versions are available; a 500-page black cartridge costs $25 or 4.9 cents per page, while each 500-page tricolor cartridge costs $35 or 7.2 cents per page.
Lexmark's remarkably helpful installation process makes setting up this printer via USB or wireless easy. The overall design is also simple: You fold up a top flap to make a 100-sheet rear-loading input area and a front flap to make a 25-sheet output tray. A top panel lifts to reveal the black and tricolor ink cartridges, which have easy-release latches. The mere two buttons on the control panel perform multiple functions and can get a bit confusing, but few low-cost printers excel in this area. Lexmark's bundled software includes Productivity Studio for organizing and working with digital images, plus a raft of utilities for troubleshooting and maintenance.
As your only printer, the Lexmark Z2420 Wireless would probably disappoint. If you want a cheap secondary model for occasional photo printing, however, this would be a reasonable choice, and its wireless feature gives it an advantage over other low-cost printers.