When most people think of label makers, they think of them as something that only a business needs, or someone who is OBSESSIVE about staying organized, but you would be surprised at how useful a label making device can be. Yes offices use them to mark folders, and files, but they are great for home use too. When items are labeled, it becomes easy to access or locate them. For example, files in an office. That’s not all, your space will look neat, and above all, you will appreciate and learn to be organized. They are also nice for when you are mailing letters or shipping packages.
Although you can simply make labels by handwriting them, they most likely aren’t going to result in neat and professional looking labels. Adding to this, if you need to create labels on a large scale, creating them manually is not going to be the best and most efficient option, which is where a label maker proves useful.
One thing that stands out in the label makers market is that there is a wide variety of both brands and models. The fact is that today, manufacturers aren’t focusing on just making labels, but labels that stand out! Additionally, making labels is now easier, and you now have the freedom to customize labels, which, if you are a business, is one way to make your brand stand out from the crowd. And for home users, you can make “fancy” labels that look really nice, that you will be proud to show off – yup, labels are not just for stuff in closets any more.
To help you make the best choice, we have done independent research to identify the best label makers on the market. During our research, we found that the variety is impressive, with both higher priced label makers as well as inexpensive ones. Secondly, there are some reasonably priced label printers that can match the performance of higher priced brands.
Currently, there are 4 common types of label makers on the market. While all of them serve the same function, they are distinctly set apart by their features, use and price.
- Personal Label Makers: This class of label maker is either desktop or handheld type and are usually inexpensive. They are appropriate for use at home or in a small business setting. You can use them to print on thermal and embossing tapes. They are usually packaged as a printer and a keyboard, meaning you won't need to connect them to a laptop or PC.
- Desktop Label Printers: Desktop label printers are also small in size and inexpensive. Their compact footprint makes them ideal for use in small businesses and at homes.
- Industrial Printers: As the name suggests, this range of label printers are made for use in busy businesses and in industries where labeling needs are higher. Some industrial printers are portable while others aren’t. The non-portable ones are appropriate in industries, mailing and distribution centers. On the other hand, portable ones are ideal for places like construction areas, where mobility isn’t a big deal.
- RFID Label Makers:Also referred as Radio Frequency Identification Devices, they are used in printing and encoding RFID tags.
Once you decide upon a label maker, be sure to take a look at the wide variety of label making tapes
and label refills
available. You can get all kinds of colors, sizes and shapes – as long as you make sure they are compatible with your chosen label maker. There are even some label makers that can handle adding “label” right on to specially designed bags
Now it’s time to look in more detail at the things you need to watch for when choosing the best label making device for your needs.
When you are shopping for a new product, there is a rule of the thumb that you should consider - never have price as your only determining factor. And this is no exception when shopping for a label printer.
By the way, did you know that price is the last thing that a manufacturer deals with before releasing a product on the market? So when buying a label maker, or any product for that matter, use the reverse. Yes, check the price first but also assess why you’re paying a higher or lower price AND what you are getting for your money. As we like to say, “never smile immediately, after seeing a low priced item.” Instead, identify the compromise, and if there is none and you are getting exactly what you need, smile.
When it comes to the price range of label makers, rest assured you will get cheap label makers, as wells as high-end label makers. But whatever your budget, rest assured you can own a label printer today. The high-end label makers cost as much as $900, while inexpensive models can cost as low as $15. On the other hand, the mid-range models can cost you around $30.
There are several factors that impact the price of a label maker one of which is the type of printing, for example, thermal transfer printing vs. direct thermal printing. Usually, thermal transfer printing, which can print, raised panel labels, self-laminating labels, and heat shrink labels will cost you higher.
Other factors include the ability to customize the writing, use of various graphics and fonts, and size of the labels. Thanks to technological advancements, there are some label maker models that can print shipping tracking, barcodes, while others allow batch printing. Research shows that the units that can be used independently and connected to a computer via a USB cable cost higher. If you’re buying one for use in your business, consider the speed as well as the potential of your business expanding.
As mentioned earlier, the major difference among all the available brands and models lies squarely on the features. That’s why almost 80 percent of the unit’s features determine the price. The remaining percentage is sometimes determined by the brand. That’s why a unit from a popular and reputable manufacturer even with same features with another brand will cost higher.
When shopping for a label maker, below are the features you should consider and compare, such as:
- The type of display and keyboard of the unit
- The printing width of the label marker
- How fast the unit is- critical for business use
- The specific source of power and if there are alternatives
- The unit memory
- The size of the unit, as it defines portability
- How many lines that can be printed
- The unit’s label
- The print technology that the unit uses
- The unit Dpi
- Ability to print pictures, logos, symbols, and barcodes
When you critically analyze the specific features of each unit, you can be assured of getting the best value for your money.
Construction and Design
Like many other products, the design and construction of a label maker is a critical factor to consider before making a purchase. Because of the increased brands and models on the market, this aspect is what most manufacturers use to give their products an edge. Mostly, the design and construction of any product impacts its usefulness, ease of use, durability, portability and comfort when using.
One of the fist aspects to consider in label makers is the display and the keyboard. Today, you will find some label makers with either a computer attachment or a built-in keyboard. The type of keyboard will impact its ease of use. Additionally, when you can connect the printer to a computer, it means you utilize the font, size, and color varying options. Also, when the keyboard is bigger, chances of making mistakes are lower.
You will also need to consider the display on the label maker. It’s not just the type of display, but also what each display allows you to do. For example, does the unit display allow on-screen preview? That’s not all, the size and dimensions of the label maker are worth considering. For example, the smaller units are more portable. However, bigger size shouldn’t put you off. Some of the largest units have more advanced features such as larger keyboard, ability to print larger items, as well as the size of the battery.
Mostly, how you will use the label maker determines the design and also the size that you need to get. If you want a unit to use in a busy business or an industry setting, you’ll need a unit that can do batch printing, with a higher speed as well as bigger size so that it won’t get overheated.
Performance and Ease of Use
Let’s face it, when you’re buying a label maker, you are looking for a model to get the work done, and done well. However, having the work done shouldn’t be the only motivation. Also consider the easiness of doing what you need to do to get the final result. If it is possible, consider the performance of the unit before anything else. The best yardstick of checking performance is assessing if the unit will meet your demands. If you want a label maker to use at home, you can go for the handheld ones, which are small and easy to use. If you want a unit for business use, you should check if the unit would meet all your business needs.
Mostly, the features in each model contribute to its performance. When considering the performance, consider the print technology that the unit applies. Other considerations here will include the print speed and print resolution. If you want to make colored labels, ensure the label maker has color printing option. Additionally, consider the tapes width, and which label it is compatible with. In this case, consider maximum label width, maximum print width, and label roll length.
In terms of performance, the design and fonts options are also worth considering. For example, the high-end label makers have almost five-color options- vertical text, expand and condense option, bold, italics and underline. Others include multiple fonts options, which includes auto sizing.
Furthermore, the printing options define the performance. For example, high-end label makers offer reverse, frame and mirror printing options. These options help you to make elegant labels including the ability to print symbols.
We all agree that label making needs differ, from business to business and across individuals. We understand that when you are shopping for a label printer, you want a unit that will meet the specific demands. If you want a product to use in your business, you want a model that is fast and effective. Additionally, you want a model that offers you the freedom to make customized labels. Here we have a compilation of 5 best brands that are made for use in different settings. It is worth noting that the best approach is to have in mind the size of your labeling needs so that you can pick a model that best suits the needs.
There is something unique about the Brady Corporation that makes it a market leader. It has been on the market for over 100 years. Impressive! The company produces 10 categories of products, which include, signs, tags, and software among others. It’s in the labels and tapes category, where the BMP-21 Plus travel friendly label printer belongs, that Brady really shines.
The Brady BMP-21 Label Maker is both a durable and smart unit, ideal for use in tough labeling jobs. It can be used in more than 10 fields to print labels. The model, which is both AC and batteries powered, is not connectable to a PC. Luckily, these shortcomings are fully compensated by other features such as the speed and efficiency. The suggested price by the manufacturer is $99 and we found out that the price on Amazon is slightly lower.
When you shop for the Brady BMP-21 unit, expect these features;
- An alphabet and numeric keyboard, making it easy to type and format
- An LCD display, allowing text preview
- Single color printing
- Battery powered making it travel friendly
- 100 labels per day, making it ideal for small businesses
- Print resolution of 203dpi
- 100 built-in symbols, for label customization
- A 2year warranty, assuring you of the quality and durability
The Brady BMP-21 label maker stands outs from its peers from its performance and features.
Construction and Design
The Brady Label Printer is designed with a tough exterior, which adds to its durability. It is estimated that the unit can serve you between 8-10 years. This is added to the smart printing feature, for cables, wires, and patch panels, terminal blocks, among others, adding to its versatility. The model has a numeric and alphabet keyboard, which is easy to operate. Additionally, the LCD display allows for customization and preview of text. However, the unit is not PC-connectible. Setting up this model is pretty easy, as well as maintaining it.
Performance and Ease of Use
The Brady BMP21-Plus is not only designed to create impressive labels but also create them easily and efficiently. The batteries and AC power supply, makes this unit usable in offices or industries but also when on the go. The smart automatic formatting makes it easy to use- type-format and print!
Courtesy of the Brady’s reliable materials, you can use this model to print wide range of labels for use as wire makers, all-purpose vinyl, nylon cloth, as well as the self-laminating labels. The alphabetical keyboard is easy to use and has numerous options especially for graphic lovers. The LCD display, makes it possible to review the labels before actual printing, this reduces wastage and errors.
Finally, the product manual is easy to use and follow, even for the first time users. Since the unit is not connectible to a PC, the small keyboard may be a challenge to use especially to those who have poor eyesight.
Brother as a brand has been on the market for nearly 7 decades. The company is a reputable brand in production of home, office and industrial products and solutions that change how we work and live. To date, the company has 15 product lines, among them printers, industrial garment printers and labeling solutions where The Brother PT-D600 falls. While the suggested price by the retailer is $99, on amazon was slightly lower than that.
Now, let’s see the features that the PT-D600 label printer possesses;
- Has a graphical display, which allows you to view the labels before printing
- It is connectable to a Mac or PC. Also, it can be used alone
- The high resolution printing produces crisp graphics, logos and barcodes
- The automatic tape cutter and fast speeds adds to its efficiency
- It can print up to eight font sizes, giving you the freedom to customize fonts
- Saves time courtesy of the large memory, as it can save up to 99 labels
- Weighs 3.72 pounds and measures 3.4x7.9x7.6 inches, making it travel friendly
- A QWERTY keyboard allows you to make professional labels easily
- There is a big library of symbols, frames and fonts
- A reassuring 2 year Warranty, to give you peace of mind
Construction and Design
One thing that stands out in the construction of the Brother Label Maker is the LCD display, which supports 20 characters, the graphical display and backlight. This makes it possible to preview the labels before printing them. Additionally, this enables creation of personalized labels.
The keyboard and ability to connect it to a PC, makes it easy to use as well as adding to its convenience. On the other hand, the dual powering options make it travel friendly, so if you want a unit that can be useful when on the go, this is a great deal also.
Performance and Ease of Use
The ease of use and performance of a label maker is best judged on a number of features such as speed, design and the construction. Assessment based on these factors shows that PT-D600 qualifies as a high performing and easy to use label maker. As the manufacturer says, with this unit, you just need to type, format and then finally print.
The unit can print 6 different sizes of tapes up to 24mm, with the tape length being 26.2 inches. This makes is ideal for use in businesses and/or by persons who are enthusiastic about graphic design. The maximum print speed when connected to a computer is up to 30 mm/sec, while when using batteries it’s up to 20 mm/sec, so whether you’re using AC or batteries the performance is still high. The 14 fonts types, 9 font sizes, and 13 font styles, add to the unit’s performance. In short, the PT-D600 is a high quality and a versatile unit.
DYMO started as an embossing firm, in California in 1958. For over 6 decades now, DYMO has grown to be one of the global leaders in producing products and innovative solutions for businesses. The company strives to help consumers execute tasks easily and at the same time look good when doing it.
DYMO produces simple embossers, desktop products software and label makers, where the Dymo LabelWriter 450 belongs. This unit uses thermal printing technology, without the use of toners or inks. The unit is on sale on the manufactures website for $107.99 but when researching we found out that you can get the same unit on Amazon with quite a sizeable discount.
Let’s highlight the features you should expect in the Dymo LabelWriter 450;
- Connectible to a PC or Mac, so you can print from Microsoft word, Excel, QuickBooks, etc.
- Uses thermal printing technology, so no need for toner or inks
- Can print barcode labels, addresses and name badges
- Has a resolution of 600 x 300 dpi, hence you get crystal clear labels and barcodes
- Prints on D1 tapes, of ¼, 3/8 and ½ inches
- Prints USPS approved postage, using the DYMO software, from your computer, without the need for a contract or monthly charges
- Weighs 2.7 pounds and measures, 10.6 x 5.6 x 6.5 inches, making it portable
- A speed of 51 labels/minute, making it ideal for businesses
- The unit is compactible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac OS X 10.5 and above
Construction and Design
The DYMO LabelWriter 450 has unique construction. First, the unit doesn’t have a keyboard nor a display, luckily, the ability to connect to a PC or Mac, allows the user to enjoy the huge functionalities presented by a computer, from the large keyboard, to the impressive programs, such as Microsoft word, Excel etc. The construction also makes it compatible to almost all computer operating systems.
Secondly, the D1 tapes that the printer uses are easy to peel, and produces tapes without toner or ink. The printer is travel friendly, courtesy of the small size, and is designed to be handheld.
Performance and Ease of Use
The DYMO LabelWriter 450 model is designed to give the users unmatched performance. Although it doesn’t have a display screen or keyboard on the unit, this could actually make it a lot simpler to use because there aren’t a whole bunch of fiddly buttons to press. Also with such a small sized unit it would be difficult to see each key properly anyway, which could lead to errors in printing labels! By connecting your Dymo Label Maker to your PC you avoid the risk of miss-printing labels and can save yourself time and money this way.
With the increased label makers brands and models on the market, choosing the best product can be hectic since it's not possible to test all of them. Hopefully this review has given you some food for thought and you can pick the label maker that best suits YOU!