Lomond EvoJet Office 2 review

Pros

  • Fast, really fast
  • Relatively cheap

Cons

  • Noisy
  • Small, two-line LCD
  • Ink not water-resistant
  • Photo print quality

Lomond - an Isle of Man-based company with operations in Russia - came to the fore in early 2012 with a new printer, the EvoJet Office, which it claimed was the fastest inkjet printer in the world, reaching 60 pages per minute and delivering what it termed “high quality low cost colour printing”.

Lomond has since released the EvoJet Office 2, which is essentially the same printer with the same print speed claims, but with a design makeover and a few tweaks. Both printers use Memjet technology, which employs a single, fixed, 223mm-wide print head - slightly wider than A4 - with 70,000 print nozzles delivering a whopping 774 million dots per second. The key difference is the fact that this head remains static as it lays down 1-picolitre ink droplets while the paper passes through, a quicker process than moving the print head from side-to-side as typically seen in traditional inkjet printers.

Lomond isn't the only company to offer this technology. HP announced its PageWide technology in early November, which is quite similar to Memjet's, although PageWide printers can print up to 70 pages per minute in normal mode and deliver 6-picolitre droplets. This reduction in moving parts inside a Memjet printer such as the EvoJet Office 2 means that maintenance is limited to replacing the cartridges and feeding paper. Unlike HP’s Officejet Pro X-series printer, however, you will be able to access and replace the EvoJet Office 2's printer head. Lomond recommends doing it every 50,000 pages.

Design and hardware

The main difference between the EvoJet Office 2 and its predecessor is a redesign. This newer version is heavier by nearly 1kg, larger, boxier (542 x 265 x 455mm) and generally sports a more modern look compared to the first EvoJet.

As expected, the printer is powered by some capable hardware. There’s not one but two print processors plus a generous 64MB of RAM to make spooling as efficient as possible. Printer connectivity includes one USB port and an Ethernet port. There’s also a small easy-to-use LCD screen and keypad.

Features

The EvoJet Office 2 promises full colour print outs with a resolution of up to 1,600 x 800 dpi for normal printing and 1,600 x 1,600 dpi for high quality photos and documents - both very impressive print resolutions. However, even more interesting is that the rated 60ppm is reached regardless of the content being printed (putting aside the spooling time). So whether it is a full colour page, a monochrome document or page with only one character, the speed remains constant. We can therefore infer that the paper delivery mechanism, not the printing head, is the limiting factor.

As for paper handling, the EvoJet Office 2 can print on a variety of paper from glossy to microporous inkjet paper and can print almost edge-to-edge (give or take a few millimetres). There’s a larger manual feed tray that can handle 20 sheets - a change influenced by customer requests - plus a main tray with a 250-sheet capacity as well as an output tray that can handle 125 sheets. Note that there’s no automatic duplex feature, a disappointment for a printer aimed at the SOHO market.

The ink

To reach these high speeds, Lomond uses specially formulated dye-based inks that dry in less than one second. Surprisingly, the ink cartridges are refillable through OEM-authorised refill systems, which cuts down the cost of printing even further. Each colour cartridge contains 50 billion picolitres while black cartridges have twice the capacity. However, our test showed that the ink is not water resistant which means that highlighters are likely to cause heavy smudges. We also noticed that full page prints tend to make pages slightly damp.

Installation

The printer came in a massive box with the printer head and the cartridges packed separately. Installing the printer and the ink was straightforward and we downloaded the latest drivers from the Lomond’s website and installed them on Windows 8. However, we feel that more assistance is needed when it comes to setting up the printer head. Furthermore, the paper handling is not intuitive and the two-line LCD could have been bigger and more legible.

Costs

You cannot buy the Lomond EvoJet Office 2 out of the box. Instead, it is available on “all-in” contracts offered to businesses on a monthly basis. In the UK, the printer as well as the ink and associated services are provided by Compatech UK as part of a Managed Print Services (MPS) contract. This enables business owners to print for a fixed cost.

One claim put forward by the company is that it can produce colour prints for less than a laser printer. We cannot work out the cost separately, outside the MPS contact, but quoted prices of £149 for 5,000 pages gives a figure of 2.98p per page, while 500 pages will cost £49 (9.8p per page). Arguably, these figures need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but when you factor in the cost of electricity and the EvoJet Office 2's relatively low power consumption (6.1W on standby and 30.2W when printing), then it becomes a more attractive proposition.

We tested the EvoJet Office 2 using a standard set of ISO documents from ISO.org. The sample documents contain a mix of photos, charts and texts, and are widely used by the printing industry. The print quality in these 'office-type' documents was fine for everyday business use but when it came to printing our own test photos, the output was decidedly average. We noticed some banding even on photographic paper and especially in darker areas of the image. We also experienced some paper jamming issues when trying to get the EvoJet Office 2 to print on photographic paper.

Generally speaking, though, the print speeds matched the specifications - approximately 60 pages per minute in normal mode and 30 pages in best mode. We noticed little diffference in print speed between document and content types, but what we did notice was the amount of noise made by the paper delivery mechanism - it's certainly not the quietest of printers. The printer would also stop for a few seconds after printing around 100 pages to engage in a process that we suspect was print head cleaning - catch one of those cycles and you'll have to wait a little longer for your printout.

Verdict

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The Lomond EvoJet Office 2 'Memjet-powered' printer is very fast, but it comes with some flaws such as its noisy paper-handling mechanism, which also seemed susceptible to the odd paper jam here and there. It's not billed as a photo printer and the results reflected that, but its text-based/simple graphics output was fine.

It's worth noting, too, that it costs the same to print in colour or in black, and that colour printing (for office documents at least) did not impact negatively on the print speed. These help control printing costs since related expenses are capped. So if you're looking for fast, cost-effective, office-based printing, then the Lomond EvoJet Office 2 could be worth considering.