At 35 kilos, you know the X500n means business when you prize it from its box (you’ll need a hand to get it out of said box or, if not, you’ll be needing an osteopath afterwards if you go it alone) and although the well made X500n is a blocky looking beast it’ has a neat, angled control panel and comes complete with a built on auto document feeder (ADF).
The X500n’s footprint of 48.3 x 47.3 x53.3cm and its weight means it requires a large strong desk, but once mounted and set up using the supplied well illustrated guide you can get going.
The X500n is actually easy to get configured it took me a little over 20-minutes from opening the box to getting a first print and to start scanning. Once up and running, the driver software and other gubbins, such as the scanner software utility is all pretty straightforward (I used my Mac laptop running OS X 10.3.9) to use and provides a smooth working interface for MFP’s various features and functions.
Four, cyan, magenta, yellow and black toner cartridges slot into the front of the machine while an extra, photo finisher pack slots in under the ADF, which helps get good quality photo finish. Network set up is actually straightforward through the network utility (it’s on the CD with all the other software bits and bobs) where you can change admin’ passwords or set up email alerts for things such as paper jams and low toner warnings, which is very clever indeed.
As for using the various functions, you do get plenty of custom scanning options (the scanner doubles as the copier input source as well) and you can scan over a shared network using the 10/100BaseTX Ethernet connection. You can also set it up to scan from one PC via the USB 2.0 port too. Scans of photo prints were generally okay (if compared against, say, a “proper” photo scanner) but when you consider this is an office style laser MFP, the scan quality is actually surprisingly good. Scanning speed is slow however, with a 6x4-inch photo at the maximum 1200ppi resolution taking nearly two and a half minutes to achieve.
In terms of printed output results, copying, either via the excellent auto document feeder or from A4 paper stacked in the paper draw is easy but hampered by the slow scanning and also by a surprising lack of detail. Initial copies were rather poor and colour was way off. But a few tweaks in the menus later (got at through the easy to use and identify buttons and step-by-step menus on the small LCD on the control panel or via the supplied software) and things improved markedly.
Two large buttons control colour or black and white copying while in the aforementioned menus; you can set up copy quality etc., to match your needs. Printing quality is better; text quality is superb, smooth, and clean. Photo output is surprisingly good and while I found the default colour set-up rather vibrant, it’s certainly provided impressive results for a MFP laser printer.
In terms of print speeds, the X500n is fast for a machine at this price point. Printing directly from my laptop, a one page Word file took just 15-seconds to print from a click of the print button to the paper feeding into the output tray. A ten-page Word document with a mix of images, text, and graphics took a little over 45-seconds and a photo quality 17MB JPEG image (printed from Photoshop CS) on A4 paper took just over one minute.
A PDF document with mixed text and colour graphics is where the X500n excelled with smooth colour gradients, tight lines and overall an extremely well handled print quality. In terms of colour and unlike copying where reds seemed to be boosted, straight prints (or when printing the scanned photo mentioned earlier), there is a slight blue cast.
A bulky device but one with that is a remarkably polished colour laser performer and at a cracking price, spoilt only by a lack of detail in copy mode and slow scanning.