Although the X500n isn't a carousel laser printer, it does build up the image colour by colour before transferring the complete page to the paper. This means that colour printing is slower than black and Lexmark quotes 8ppm and 31ppm, respectively. In practice, we printed our five-page, black text print in 22 seconds, giving a speed of 13.6ppm and our five text and colour graphics pages in 50 seconds, equivalent to 6ppm.
The colour speed is quite close to Lexmark's claim, while the black speed is less than half. A 15 x 10cm photo print took 24 seconds, which is commendably quick and colour copies took 40 seconds from the glass and 31 seconds from the ADF. However, those copy speeds assume that the scanner has already warmed up, so factor in another 17 seconds if it hasn't. This could mean, for intermittent copying, waiting up to a minute for the first page to appear.
Black print looks sharp and clear, with no noticeable spatter and smooth reproduction of small characters on diagonals. Colour graphics are dark and solid, though there's some slight mis-registration over coloured backgrounds. Colour photocopies lost quite a bit of the colour solidity of first-generation prints and areas of solid fill became blotchy.
Photo prints suffer from a reduced colour gamut and the reproduction of a variegated sky showed unevenness. There was little obvious difference between prints produced in normal and high-quality modes and since normal quality is around four seconds per print quicker, you might as well use that.
The various consumables needed to run the X500n all have different service intervals, so you'll be replacing toner every 3,000 (colour, high yield) and 5,000 (black, high yield) pages; the toner waste bottle after 30,000 pages; the fuser after 60,000 pages; and the photo developer after a maximum of 120,000 pages.
Adding up all the components and averaging them out per page gives a black print cost of 2.99p and a colour cost of 11.3p. The back cost is quite high, even for what is a low-cost colour laser, but the colour cost is more reasonable.
This is a multifunction colour laser printer with a low asking price and it could see a lot of application in small offices. It's not that quick, particularly when printing colour, and is quite bulky, but print quality is reasonable, especially when printing text. It's a little bit expensive to print colour on and the five different maintenance intervals could be irritating, especially if your print output is high each month.