The Lexmark C530dn is a fast, high-quality color laser printer that we recommend for any small office or home with high-volume printing needs. For $500, you get a network-ready printer with a built-in duplexer for automatic double-sided printing. If you need increased paper handling options or more toner cartridge choices, check out the C532n ($500, no duplexer) or the slightly more expensive C532dn ($700). Lexmark also has taken laudable steps to improve the eco-friendliness of its laser printers--by reducing power consumption and material waste--which benefits both your pocketbook and the environment, a move we applaud. We're curious to see whether other vendors follow suit. The Lexmark C530dn's print speeds and quality are on par with the more expensive Oki C5500n, which lacks a duplexer, making the C530dn a better buy.
The Lexmark C530dn is a behemoth of a printer, as color lasers tend to be (individual toner cartridges take up a lot of space). The C530dn's toner cartridges are stacked vertically, resulting in a tall unit: 19 inches tall by 17 inches wide by 20 inches deep. It weighs a back-breaking 57 pounds, but two hand wells on either side help you get a grip if you need to move the printer around.
The control panel is very basic. A four-line text LCD is the centerpiece, though it's not backlit, so it can be difficult to read in bad lighting conditions. Only eight buttons adorn the panel: Menu, four direction keys, a Check key, a Back key, and a Stop key.
The C530dn comes with a 250-sheet input tray that can expand to hold legal-size paper, as well as a 100-sheet multipurpose feeder that folds out from the front panel of the paper tray. You don't get any paper expansion options on this model, but it should be sufficient for home users. If you're in a small office environment and need expanded paper handling, the Lexmark C532n model offers the same 250-sheet tray plus an optional 550-sheet drawer, though you lose the multipurpose tray in favor of a single-sheet manual feed slot (for an 800-page max input). The next step up is the C532dn, which offers the 250-sheet tray, the 100-sheet multipurpose feeder, and the optional 550-sheet tray, for a total input capacity of 900 pages. The C530 series machines lack straight pass-through printing, a potential problem if you're using paper that has a tendency to jam when curled. The Oki C5500n does include this feature.
All three models in Lexmark's C530 come standard with a 375MHz processor and 128MB of RAM (The memory can be expanded up to 640MB). The C530 series printers also come equipped with a USB connector and an Ethernet jack for network printing. You can opt for a Wi-Fi adapter, too, for wireless printing. Using the printer's Menu option, you can change some settings including brightness, contrast, and saturation; make collated prints; or make a multipage print to fit multiple pages (up to 16) onto one sheet of paper.
Lexmark's C530 series is part of what Lexmark is calling its "green machines," that is, printers that reduce their impact on the environment. The most obvious such feature is the built-in duplexer that comes standard on all but the C532n model. Duplexing, or automatic double-sided printing, reduces the amount of paper consumed, which is good for both the environment and your wallet. Lexmark also is touting its new laser scanning units (an internal component in laser printers), which are smaller and have fewer moving parts than traditional units, allowing for less power consumption. Finally, Lexmark has separated the toner cartridges into two units: one piece is simply the toner and the other is the photoconductor. Most vendors use a single-unit toner plus photoconductor cartridge. Lexmark's C530 series photoconductors are generally good for about 20,000 pages and the toner cartridges that ship with the C530dn will last for about 1,500 pages, so clearly, the photoconductor will outlast the toner. By separating the two units, you don't need to waste a still-good photoconductor unit. All this should save you some cash and ease your mind somewhat about your contributions to landfills.