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. Some are specifically designed for this, like the Seiko Instruments Smart Label Printer 620
which has the ideal dimensions and settings for printing shipping labels.
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! Some label makers offer a variety of fonts and sizes, so you can really personalize to what you want. The Casio KL-120 Portable Thermal Label Maker
is a great example of this, by a well-trusted brand too. This label maker is super easy to use with a QWERTY keypad and has multiple sized fonts. Similarly, the Epson LabelWorks LW-300 Label Maker
features 14 fonts, 10 styles and over 300 symbols to ensure your label is perfect for your home or business.
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.
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!