A fast, cheap workgroup inkjet printer with a touted printing speed of 60 pages per minute (ppm) thanks to waterfall printing technology.
The key to the EvoJet's speed is a unique print head, produced by US firm Memjet. Regular inkjets have a narrow head which must travel back and forth to cover the page, whereas the EvoJet's huge head covers the entire width of the paper path. Instead of stepping sheets through to give the print head time to move, the paper transport simply keeps running; the stationary head sprays the paper with a 'waterfall' of ink as it passes underneath.
The EvoJet is capable of mimicking laser printing speeds due to the waterfall design of the print head
The resulting print speeds are more like those of a laser printer, but the EvoJet retains several inkjet advantages. Key among these is that there's no fuser to warm up, so the first page output time should be consistent regardless of how recently the printer's been used. As fusers are power hungry, going without one also means a printer uses less electricity, generates less heat and needs less cooling which can also be noisy.
On the negative side, the EvoJet doesn't have the durability of a laser: with a recommended monthly duty of up to 4,000 pages, it's only going to be suitable for smaller workgroups.
The EvoJet is the same size as an entry-level workgroup laser, but at 12kg it's quite a bit lighter and can be installed by one person. As you'd expect there are USB and Ethernet interfaces, but the paper-handling specification is underwhelming at this price. Paper is fed either from a 250-sheet tray or a manual feed at the rear and delivered into a 125-sheet output tray. There's no automatic duplex (double-sided) printing, and no upgrades are available at present.
Like many inkjets, it's shipped without either the head or ink cartridges in place. Fitting both seems slightly more involved than on a consumer inkjet, but still straightforward. Our test unit arrived with all its supplies in place, so we couldn't go through the process ourselves. Lomond supplies the printer with full capacity inks, but a new printer must undergo a one-time priming process before it's first used. This leaves the initial supplies able to print just over half of their rated capacity.
At 12kg, the printer is portable, but you have to remove ink tanks before moving it
It's here that we should note one oddity of the printer's ink system. Once primed, the EvoJet needs to be kept flat in use – there's even a tilt sensor to prevent printing otherwise. It's also important to put it into a special 'transport mode' before moving it to help prevent leaks – as one inky-fingered colleague found out to their cost. Longer distance relocations require more elaborate preparations including the removal of the ink tanks.
This sensitivity aside the EvoJet is low maintenance, with each consumable good for at least 4,000 pages. With competitive pricing, the printer also has low running costs. Calculated using ISO/IEC 24711 (inkjet) figures, print costs work out at just over a penny for the black portion of a test page, and 1.9p per page for the colour portion.
The combined black and colour page cost is 3.4p if you factor in a replacement print head every 45,000 pages. In practice, however, pages of text require less black coverage than the ISO test suite, so you might see higher yields when printing predominantly text.
The EvoJet's costs are already on a par with the best inkjets, and cheaper than all but the most cost-efficient competing lasers, but Lomond also offers an official cartridge return and refill programme, which it says can lower ink costs by about 25 per cent. The manufacturer also plans to introduce managed print contracts, but details of these weren't available at the time we went to press.
The device has a claimed one-page-per-second speed. A manufacturer's claims are all very well, but in practice we often find that a printer falls far short once we put them to the test. This was not the case with the EvoJet – which lived up to its billing in an almost spectacular fashion. Anyone who's used an inkjet before is likely to find themselves transfixed as pages cascade from the printer at a rate which seems altogether improbable.
In order to reflect the true speed of a printer we normally time our print tests from the point at which we submit the job until the moment the last page drops into the output tray; thus capturing any job preparation and spooling time. Including this, the EvoJet despatched our 25-page text test at more than 45 pages per minute (ppm), and our 24-page colour test at nearly 31ppm. Removing the preparation time, both results printed at almost exactly the claimed one-page-per-second speed. Unusually for a fast colour printer, there were no processing pauses after it had started printing our complex colour graphics test.
Curious to see if the printer could sustain such rates over longer jobs, we tried a 100-page version of our text test. This printed at 57ppm, although the actual engine speed was almost 62ppm if we discounted the eight seconds it took to begin printing the first page.
This is an astonishingly quick printer at this price, then, but whilst quick inkjet prints are rarely impressive, those from the EvoJet were crisp and well-defined. Our only criticism is that on plain paper the dye-based inks lacked punch compared to a colour laser's toner: where the best quality is essential it may prove worth paying the steepish 2.5p per sheet for Lomond's double-sided, coated matt paper as the results on it are superb.
Surprisingly perhaps, photo prints were also extremely good when using Lomond's own glossy photo paper – far better than most lasers and not far off a good consumer photo inkjet. Although using the EvoJet's highest resolution halves its engine speed, it's still remarkable to see high quality full-page photos appear in just a few seconds each.