The Lexmark C500n is a basic, single-function color laser printer geared for small offices and home offices. After reviewing a bunch of multifunction color printers recently, $400 seems like a lot for a single-function machine. The C500n's fast print speeds and network-readiness, however, make it a good addition for small offices that have high-volume text printing needs. Although, for about the same price, the Samsung CLP-510n offers a duplexer, and the Konica Minolta Magicolor 2430DL serves up a PictBridge port. If you have the budget, a color laser multifunction is a cash- and space-efficient option; it saves you from having to purchase separate devices, then find room for them. At $899, the HP Color LaserJet 2840 is more than twice the price of the Lexmark C500n, but it includes fax, copier, and scanner functions--useful in any office environment. If you're happy with the functions of the C500n but just want a speedier option, check out Lexmark's own C522n, which printed color text and graphics at about twice the speed of the C500n and has more expandability options, too.
Like all laser printers, the Lexmark C500n is a monolithic piece of machinery; make sure you have room for it. It stands 18.9 inches wide, 16.5 inches deep, and 15.2 inches tall and weighs a back-breaking 66 pounds. Unfortunately, it has no built-in hand wells, so moving it is a slow and painstaking task. You're better off getting someone else to help you move it. The standard version of the printer comes with a single 250-sheet input tray; you can purchase an optional 530-page drawer to increase your total input to 780 pages. Additionally, the above-mentioned trays can handle up to A4-size paper only, but Lexmark also sells a legal-size paper drawer. Maximum output is 250 pages as well, and the output tray has a simple foldout flap to catch longer sheets. There's no straight pass-through on this machine, so be wary of using paper that has a tendency to jam when curled.
The C500n is network-ready (wired only), which is a boon in a multiuser environment. Another unexpected benefit to the networkability: the printer is noisy, even while idling, so you may want to stick it in an unpopulated area. Even better, it supports both Mac and Windows PCs. It comes with 64MB of nonexpandable memory and a 200MHz processor. It has no duplexer, so double-sided printing is a manual operation.
The entire front wall swings down to expose the four toner cartridges. They're set in a single-pass array, which makes for faster color printing than with the older drum laser printers, which had to make a separate pass to lay on each color. The C500n ships with starter toner cartridges. Unfortunately, Lexmark consumables are pricey: the standard black toner cartridge (2,500 pages) costs $90, and the standard color cartridges (1,500 pages) cost $98.45 each. If you do a lot of printing, you're better off with the high-yield cartridges: the black (5,000 pages) will run you $134.70 and the color cartridges (3,000 pages) are $119.70.