A colour laser multifunction aimed squarely at small offices and work groups, the £410 Lexmark X502n prints, scans, copies and faxes, and does it all quickly and to a high standard. (If you don't need fax, the X500n saves you about £90.)
The X502n isn't perfect -- it's missing some fax features that are often important to offices -- but if you can live without group dialling, secure-receive mode and a junk-fax blocker, the X502n is an excellent choice. It's one of the fastest lasers we've tested, and its excellent speed doesn't come at the expense of print quality. It's also one of the more affordable lasers to maintain, thanks to reasonable print-refill costs.
The Lexmark X502n is a behemoth of a printer. It measures 533mm tall, 483mm wide and 437mm deep, and weighs a hefty 35kg. It's possible to move it yourself (speaking from experience) but not recommended, for fear of dropping the printer and breaking both it and your toes.
The multifunction unit that sits on top of the printer comprises a flatbed scanner, an automatic document feeder and the control panel. The flatbed scanner is only big enough to scan A4 originals, but using the automatic document feeder (ADF), you can scan legal-size documents, too. The ADF can hold up to 35 pages.
The X502n comes with a 250-sheet input tray that can be configured to hold up to legal-size paper. An optional 530-page drawer is available, too. Unfortunately, there's no manual feed slot, so one-off prints still have to go through the main drawer. The output well, located below the control panel, can hold up to 250 sheets.
The control panel is basic and well organised. Three buttons let you switch between copy, scan and fax tasks. For faxing, there's an alphanumeric keypad, ten one-touch dial buttons (and a shift key, for a total of 20 one-touch numbers), and redial, hook and directory buttons. The standard reduce/enlarge, lighter/darker, image quality, menu navigation keys, and start and cancel buttons are all present and accounted for. Finally, the control panel includes a backlit, two-line text LCD for perusing menus.
The X502n uses four toner cartridges: black, cyan, magenta and yellow. Each cartridge is offered in regular- and high-capacity versions. The regular black costs £54 and yields about 2,500 prints, while the high-capacity version costs £82 and yields about 5,000 pages. Each regular colour cartridge costs £59 and produces about 1,500 pages, while the high-capacity versions cost £72 apiece and yield about 3,000 pages. Using the high-capacity cartridges for best value, we estimate that a black print will cost about 1.6p per page, while a full colour page will cost about 9.6p per page. Both costs are low.
The Lexmark X502n features a 366MHz processor and 128MB of nonupgradable memory. It offers both USB and Ethernet connectors, so it can be connected directly to a PC or on a network for a multiuser environment. The X502n prints, scans, copies and faxes; the X500n offers everything but faxing for £328.
When copying, your options are standard: you can scale from 25 to 400 per cent (preset or custom values); collate; and make 2-on-1 or 4-on-1 copies. There's no duplexer, though, so you can't make automatic double-sided prints.
Scanning presents a bit of a mystery. While there's a scan task button on the control panel, we couldn't figure out how to scan directly to a USB-attached PC. It turns out, you can't. Walk-up scanning is limited to a networked X502n.