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.
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.