Lexmark X500n Review

If you follow the printer market, you’ll know that £250 is inexpensive for a colour laser multifunction printer (MFP). Your first impression of the Lexmark X500n, priced at £299, might therefore be that it must be mediocre. Don’t be fooled. The X500n delivered solid results with its ability to print, scan, and copy.

A big factor contributing to the X500n’s affordability is its lack of a fax machine (fax capability is an increasingly common feature on laser MFPs). If your office already owns a standalone fax machine – and most offices do – you’ll appreciate Lexmark’s thoughtful way of making a powerful MFP more affordable. And if you actually do need a fax machine, Lexmark doesn’t leave you in the dark: for £90 more, you can buy the X502n, which offers a built-in fax as well as all the X500n features.

Setup and usability
You’ll know the X500n is a serious device once you unpack it from its box – it is something of a behemoth, weighing 16kg and standing 53.3cm high, so you’ll need assistance setting it up. The step-by-step setup pamphlet is fully illustrated, and we managed to set up the X500n fairly quickly, although we felt the process would have been easier with written instructions. The printer does come with a printed user manual though.

A common problem with MFPs is flawed scanner software. But the X500n’s built-in flatbed scanner was like a breath of fresh air. It worked smoothly, and its user-friendly interface offers flexible customisation options. Also notable is the X500n’s ability to scan over a network. The scanner can be shared on a network using its 10/100BaseTX Ethernet connection, and it can also scan to a single computer via USB 2.0.

Likewise, the X500n’s copier is easy to use. The automatic document feeder works well and should come in handy in busy offices. Two large buttons on the control panel allow you to choose between black-and-white or colour copying. You can also configure settings for the quality of your copies using the menu button.

Configuring the X500n over a network is also easy. Using its network utility (which you can access through the OS X Printer Setup utility once you’ve installed everything on the accompanying CD), you can change the administrative password and other settings, or even add email alerts that send warnings about paper jams or low toner.

Solid colours
The X500n’s printing performance turned in solid results, ranging from good to very good. Text quality appeared smooth and clean.

In our test print of a 22MB Photoshop image, reds were a bit too strong. It did well when printing a four-page colour PDF containing graphics, fine lines, and gradients: thin lines were well preserved, and gradients were smooth and distinct.

Our jury was least impressed with the X500n’s copy quality. In our copy of a Macworld magazine cover, colours were nearly accurate, but some details that could be seen in the original were lost in the copy. The overall composition also appeared a little grainy.

We mentioned earlier that we appreciated the ease of use of the X500n’s scanner. Even better news is that the scan quality is impressive. In a scan of a line chart to test resolution quality, the X500n offered very good results. When scanning our control photo of a picnic scene to judge colour and image quality, the X500n’s output was a little heavy on the blues, but overall the image was clear.

In our test over 10/100 BaseTX Ethernet, the X500N took 13 seconds to print a one-page Word document, 37 seconds to print a 10-page Word document, 43 seconds to print a 22MB Photoshop image, and 58 seconds to print a four-page PDF. In contrast, the AcuLaser took 10 seconds to print a one-page Word document, 36 seconds for a 10-page Word document, 86 seconds for a 22MB Photoshop image, and 139 seconds for a four-page PDF.

Scanning with the X500n is a little slow. It took 98 seconds to scan an 8 x 10in photo at 600dpi. And 115 seconds for a 4 x 6in photo at 1,200dpi.

OUR VERDICT

At £299, the Lexmark X500n is a bargain for a device of its kind. Although it’s slow with scanning and copies lack some detail, this MFP is fast, easy to use, and a strong overall performer.

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