In testing, the X500n MFD (multifunction device) delivered solid results with its ability to print, scan, and copy. A large factor contributing to the X500n's affordability is its lack of a fax machine; fax capability is an increasingly common feature on laser MFDs.

If your office already owns a standalone fax machine - and most offices do - you'll appreciate Lexmark's thoughtful way of making a powerful MFD more affordable. And if you actually do need a fax machine, Lexmark doesn't leave you in the dark: for around £100 more, you can purchase the X502n model, which offers built-in fax functionality in addition to all the features included in the X500n.

Setup and usability

You'll know the X500n is a serious device once you unpack it from its box. The MFD is somewhat of a behemoth, weighing 35kg and standing 533mm high, so you'll probably need some assistance setting it up. The step-by-step setup pamphlet is fully illustrated, and we managed to set up the X500n fairly quickly.

When testing MFDs, the problem we most often come across is flawed scanner software. Testing the X500n's built-in flatbed scanner was like a breath of fresh air. The scanner utility 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 and straightforward. The included 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 CD that accompanies the MFD), you can change the administrative password and other settings, or even add email alerts that send warnings about paper jams or low toner.

Quality

The X500n's printing performance turned in solid results from our panel of experts, ranging from Good to Very Good. The MFD's text quality appeared smooth and clean, earning a Very Good rating. In our test print of a 22MB Photoshop image, reds were too strong, earning a Good rating. The MFD did rather well when printing a four-page colour PDF containing graphics, fine lines, and gradients: thin lines were well preserved, gradients were smooth and distinct, and overall the colour document was pleasing to the eye.

Our jury was least impressed with the X500n's copy quality. In our copy of a 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. Our jury gave the X500n copy quality a Good rating.

Review continues:

Scan quality and speed testing

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 received a Very Good rating from our jury. And 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, earning a Good rating.

Speed

The X500N has surprisingly fast print speeds for an MFD of its price. It was faster than many leading products in this category. In our testing 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 to print a 10-page Word document, one minute 26 seconds to print a 22MB Photoshop image and two minutes 19 seconds to print a 4-page PDF.

Scanning with the X500n is a little slow. In testing, it took one minute and 38 seconds to scan an 8x10in photo at 600dpi. And it took one minute and 55 seconds to scan a 4x6in photo at 1,200dpi.

Brian Chen is assistant editor at Macworld US.

Lexmark X500n: Specs

  • Print resolution 1,200x600dpi
  • optical scan resolution 1,200x1,200dpi
  • max scanning bit depth 24bit
  • 128MB installed RAM
  • ethernet 10/100BaseTX
  • USB 2.0
  • paper capacity 250 pages
  • automatic document feeder
  • 483x437x533mm
  • 35kg
  • Print resolution 1,200x600dpi
  • optical scan resolution 1,200x1,200dpi
  • max scanning bit depth 24bit
  • 128MB installed RAM
  • ethernet 10/100BaseTX
  • USB 2.0
  • paper capacity 250 pages
  • automatic document feeder
  • 483x437x533mm
  • 35kg

OUR VERDICT

Although it's slow with scanning and its copies lack some detail, this MFD is fast, easy to use and a strong overall performer.

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