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Lexmark X500n Color Laser Multifunction Printer

At a Glance
  • Lexmark X500n

    PCWorld Rating

    Cheap to buy but costly to resupply, this MFP would fit best in a lower-volume small office.

Lexmark's X500n is the least-expensive color laser MFP we've tested. Considering its good overall design and performance, it's a tempting bargain--until you have to buy your first toner cartridge.

The X500n performed reasonably well in our tests. It printed text at a brisk rate of 25.4 pages per minute (ppm), and the results were beautiful, consisting of crisp, black, delicate letters in a variety of fonts. It struggled more with graphics, topping out at 3.1 ppm and exhibiting a yellow-pinkish cast and some moiré patterns. Grayscale photos looked dark. Copies and scans from the X500n were among the best of the current bunch, looking not too dark or chunky, with colors that seemed fairly true.

The X500n handles paper in some interesting ways. It has no separate multipurpose tray; its primary 250-sheet input tray takes both plain paper and thicker media. The tray is impressively sturdy, especially for such a low-cost unit. Fitting legal-size paper into the tray requires releasing a little extension, using a coin or screwdriver. I think it's awkward to require tools to perform any basic operation on a printer, but labels on the piece illustrate the process well. You also get a 250-sheet output tray and a 35-sheet automatic document feeder. An additional 530-sheet optional tray costs $199. Unfortunately no duplexing of any kind is available.

The control panel is pretty easy to use. Most of the buttons are clearly labeled, although the major-function buttons for copying and scanning have only large, inscrutable icons. The two-line LCD shows status, messages, and menu options, but I'd prefer more cues for which button to push next when navigating menus. You can also view the printer's status and settings via its internal Web page.

The toner cartridges are sealed, flat packs that slide into bays. The design lacks any sort of visual or audible feedback to confirm that a cartridge is seated properly. The machine ships with a 2500-page black cartridge and three 1500-page color cartridges. They're expensive to replace, and the high-yield versions aren't much more economical: A 5000-page black cartridge costs almost $135, or 2.7 cents per page, while each 3000-page color cartridge costs nearly $120, or 4 cents per page.

Lexmark's characteristically smooth, automated installation leaves you with useful software, including ABBYY FineReader 6.0 Sprint for OCR and Presto Page Manager for scanning. The largely wordless setup poster has big, easy-to-understand illustrations. I encountered just one hitch: The primary user guide is available on the CD but is not installed automatically. Lexmark says it has since added the guide to the list of preloaded software.

--Melissa Riofrio

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Cheap to buy but costly to resupply, this MFP would fit best in a lower-volume small office.

    Pros

    • Very inexpensive to buy
    • Impressively sturdy paper tray

    Cons

    • Pricey toner; yellowish, grainy photos
    • No automatic duplexing available
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