The Lexmark E250dn is a great monochrome laser printer for a single home user or a college student. For $250, you get a built-in duplexer, and it comes network ready (if you don't need the networking, save yourself $50 and go with the E250d). It's on the slow side for text prints but cranks through graphics prints, and the quality of both print types is excellent. The recently reviewed $200 Samsung ML-2571N features built-in networking and faster text prints but skips the duplexer. In the end, we prefer the print quality of the Lexmark E250dn. If you really value fast text prints, go for the Samsung; otherwise, spend the extra $50 for the Lexmark E250dn.
The Lexmark E250dn looks very similar to the recently reviewed E350d. Sitting 10.2 inches tall, 14.1 inches wide, and 15.6 inches deep, it has a small footprint for a laser printer, making it a perfect fit for a small office or a dorm room. And weighing just 25 pounds, it's not too hard to move to a different spot should the need arise.
The input tray can hold up to 250 sheets of plain paper, and an optional, 550-sheet paper drawer ($200) brings the maximum input to 800 pages. A single-sheet manual input slot with adjustable paper guides lives in the front for one-off prints. The top-mounted output tray has a fold-out flap to corral long sheets of paper and a single-sheet exit door lives in the rear of the printer (opening this door automatically engages the rear exit mode). The input tray can be extended to hold legal-size sheets, though this will cause the tray to jut out of the back of the printer; for this scenario, Lexmark thoughtfully includes a snap-on cover that will keep dust out of your paper tray.
The E250 series printers lack an LCD for perusing menus. The control panel is comprised of five indicator lights (error, paper jam, load paper, refill toner, and ready) and two buttons (cancel and resume). The indicator lights shine in various combinations, and the user guide helps you to decipher their meaning. We definitely prefer an LCD, even if it's just a two-line text window, but other monochrome laser printers in this price range also lack one, so we can't fault Lexmark too much. Both the E250d and E250dn ship with a 1,500-page starter toner cartridge. Replacement cartridges can print about 3,500 pages and cost $157, for a per-page cost of 4.5 cents. If you buy cartridges under Lexmark's return cartridge program (customers promise to use the cartridge only once and return the spent cartridge to Lexmark for reuse or recycling), you get a discounted price of $132, for a per-page cost of 3.8 cents. The per-page costs are a bit high for a monochrome laser printer but not surprising, considering the low price of the printer itself. Like the E350 and C530 series printers, the E250 printers employ a two-part cartridge design. The photoconductor has a longer lifespan than the toner cartridges, so with this design, you don't need to discard a still-good component when the toner runs out. We really like this change.
Because the E250 series printers are so basic, it's not surprising that they have a short features list. They come standard with built-in duplexers, so double-sided printing is a cinch. You can also make other selections, such as creating an N-up print (printing multiple pages on a single sheet), printing a watermark, or making a booklet print, though you'll have to do this through whatever program you're printing from, because the E250 printers lack an LCD.
The E250d and E250dn ship with a 366MHz processor and 32MB of RAM (expandable to 96MB). The E250d comes with a parallel connector and a USB port for direct connection, while the E250dn includes a built-in Ethernet connector for sharing the printer over a network. Lexmark also offers an optional wireless adapter for these printers.