Lexmark X500n Multifunction Colour Laser, Copier, Scanner and Printer Review.

We test Lexmark’s X500n colour laser multifunction printer.

At 35 kilos, you know the X500n means business when you lift it from its box; you’ll need a hand though or once out of the box, you’ll need a good osteopath! And although the well-made X500n is a blocky looking beast, it has a neat, angled control panel and comes complete with a built on auto document feeder (ADF).

Once up and running, the driver software and other gubbins, such as the scanner software utility is all pretty straightforward to use (I used my Mac laptop running OS X 10.3.9) and provides a smooth working interface for this large MFP’s various features and functions.

Four, cyan, magenta, yellow and black toner cartridges slot into the front of the machine while an extra, photo finisher pack slots in under the ADF, which as you’d expect, helps to get a good quality finish to any photo’s you may print on it. As for using the various features, you do get plenty of custom scanning options (the scanner doubles as the copier input source as well) and you can scan over a shared network using the 10/100BaseTX Ethernet connection.

Scans of photo prints were generally okay (if compared against, say, a “proper” photo scanner) but when you consider this is an office style laser MFP, the scan quality is actually surprisingly good. Scanning speed is slow however, with a 6x4-inch photo at the maximum 1200ppi resolution taking nearly two and a half minutes to achieve.

In terms of printed output results, copying, either via the excellent auto document feeder or from A4 paper stacked in the paper draw is easy but hampered by the slow scanning and also by a surprising lack of detail. Initial copies were rather poor and colour was way off. Two large buttons control colour or black and white copying while in the menus; you can set up copy quality etc., to match your needs.

Print quality (as opposed to copying) is better; with superb text quality; it’s smooth, and clean while print speeds are encouraging, the X500n is fast for a machine at this price point. Printing directly from my laptop, a one page Word file took just 15-seconds to print from a click of the print button to the paper feeding into the output tray. A ten-page Word document with a mix of images, text, and graphics took a little over 45-seconds and a photo quality 17MB JPEG image (printed from Photoshop CS) on A4 paper took just over one minute.

A PDF document with mixed text and colour graphics is where the X500n excelled with smooth colour gradients, tight lines and overall giving extremely well handled output. In terms of colour (and unlike copying, where reds seemed to be boosted), straight prints or when printing the scanned photo mentioned earlier, there is a slight blue cast.

Verdict: 
The Lexmark X500n is an affordable yet powerful colour laser multifunction (MFP) scanner, printer, and copier with network capability that will make a great small or home office work horse. It lacks fax functionality (one of the ways Lexmark kept the price down) but if you don’t have a standalone fax already and need one, the otherwise identical Lexmark X502n is available (with fax) for another £100. Bulky it may be but overall, the X500n is a remarkably polished colour laser performer pitched at a cracking price that’s spoilt only by a lack of detail in copy mode and the slow scanning.