The main asset of the Z43 is that it can work in 4 colors (office use) or 6 for photo prints. What this means is that it usually works with two cartridges (color and black), but the black cartridge can be removed and replaced by one called Photo. When this is installed, the device can theoretically produce high definition prints comparable to the Stylus Photo 820. Actually though, Lexmark is not yet up to Epson standards. But this cartridge does make a huge improvement in the disappointing photo prints resulting from the 4-color cartridge.
On the marketing side, Lexmark usually brings out its new ranges a bit earlier than the competition. When it was launched before the summer, the Z43 only had previous-generation printers to compete with. These were the Canon S400, Epson 680 and HP Deskjet 840.
Things have changed since then. With an initial price of $135, in August it found itself up against the new Canon S330, Epson C60 and HP Deskjet 932c.
So Lexmark was forced to review its prices and the Z43 recently dropped to $100.
In speed tests for black & white prints, the Z34 has no reason to envy its rivals. Results are pretty much the same for monochrome prints. The fastest is the S300 and the slowest the Deskjet 932c, but there's not much in it.
Things get more interesting when color comes into play. Here the device is twice as slow as the Canon and HP models, and no less than four times slower than Epson.
But in photo mode with a suitable cartridge, the Z43 produces really pleasing prints in a bit less than half-an-hour for an A4 photo in 2400 dpi.
For the quality test, we used the Z43 with its two types of cartridge: standard and photo. The first has just the four usual colors (cyan, magenta, black and yellow). The second has two extra hues to improve the appearance of shading.
Office document print tests were done with the "normal" cartridge and in default mode. Monochrome prints are good, and the characters of a quality comparable to Epson printers. Canon and HP printers tend to perform better though.