The price of colour laser printers has continued to fall over the last few years, until you can now pick up a machine suited to SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) use for under £200. Lexmark describes its C500n as having ‘great mono performance with the added benefit of colour and network', which implies that colour printing is a secondary activity.
Although this is an A4 printer, it has a large desktop footprint and sits high off the desk, due to the vertical design of its print engine. Paper feeds from an under-specified, 250-sheet tray at the bottom of the machine, up to its top surface. Although a 530-sheet second tray is available as an option, it seems odd to sell a business printer which can only take half a ream of paper at a time.
The printer's two-line LCD display has no backlight, but because it's nearly horizontal in the top panel, it's not too hard to read. Some of its status messages could be more intelligible, though. When we forgot to load the paper tray, the display showed the terse message: 'Tray1:No' - 'Set Tray1'.
This gives no suggestion that the problem with Tray1 has anything to do with paper. We still don't know what the message ‘( 1P)' means, either. It appears whenever you print, but the User Guide doesn't mention it. It's a shame nobody checked the user friendliness of the status messages, as the set of five control panel buttons navigate the printer's menu in a conventional and easy-to-use way.
The C500n's four toner cartridges are arranged vertically, one above the other, behind its front panel. Each cartridge slides into place, once you've removed its sealing strip, and all four are keyed, so they will only fit in their appropriate slots. A waste toner bottle fits in to the right of the cartridges. The third type of consumable is the photodeveloper belt, which takes the page image as it builds; this slots in through a hatch in the top.
The software suite is pretty perfunctory, with just a print driver. This isn't as option-rich as some others, either: it includes watermarks, but no overlays, multipage print, but only up to four per sheet and no instructions for manual duplexing.