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The rise of the multifunction laser printer is mimicking that of the ink-jet all-in-one a few years back. More and more of the main printer makers are adding multifunction devices to their range of mono and colour lasers. Lexmark's last launch event included the X500n, a SOHO machine offering the three key functions of printing, scanning and copying. The X502n is also available, if you need to add faxing into the mix.
Lexmark manages to blend the lines of the printer and scanner better than some in the multifunction market, but mainly because the laser print engine is a substantial device in its own right. It's a two-man lift and with the four, colour toner cartridges mounted vertically at the front, sits quite high off the desk.
The printer has a surprisingly small paper tray, holding only 250 sheets and there's no multipurpose tray for loading special media or envelopes. A 530-sheet, second tray is available as an option.
The scanner unit is a low-profile device and this includes the 35-sheet Auto Document Feeder (ADF), which manages its job with a feed tray that's very nearly horizontal. Below the scanner, the front panel is well laid out with large illuminated mode buttons, a rectangle of four more for menu navigation, a number keypad and three, coloured function buttons for starting black and colour jobs and stopping a current one.
Status feedback is from a two-line by 16 character, backlit LCD display, though the background to the characters has a strange, two-tone effect. At the back are sockets for USB 2.0 and Ethernet, as this machine supports network connection as standard.
There are a lot of different consumables in the X500n. The four toner cartridges come pre-installed, but have to be removed to clear packing pieces and protective tapes before the machine can be used. You also have to insert the photo developer unit by hinging the scanner section up and opening a hatch in the print unit top cover. A waste toner bottle also comes pre-installed, slotted in to the right of the toner cartridges.
The printer comes with well-known and well-liked support software, including Presto! PageManager for document handling, and Abbyy FineReader for OCR from the scanner. This software is combined with a useful printer driver, which includes support for multiple pages per sheet, page separators - so you can direct front and back cover sheets from different paper trays - automatic binding margins, and options for different colour correction modes. The printer can watermark on pages, too, using predefined text or your own messages.
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