Most moderately priced label makers print at a resolution of 180 dpi, so
some letters show a slightly jagged edge. In most sizes, though, text is
very easy to read. Keyboards come in two basic types: the computer-style
QWERTY layout -- best for anyone who can type or text well -- and alphabetical
layout designed for kids and inexperienced typists.
Compared with old-style embossing label makers that require you to turn
a wheel to select each letter, modern electronic label makers are a whiz
to use. They cover a wide price range, though, with many factors to consider.
Comparing the pros and cons of the two main brands, and thinking about the
size and type of labels you'll want to print -- and where, and how often
-- will make it easy to match a model with your needs.
Brother and Dymo are the two main brands. Label makers from both brands
cover a wide price range, though Dymo makes the very least expensive label
maker, an old-style manual model that makes you turn a wheel to select each
letter. More modern thermal-transfer label makers from both brands come in
several basic types: handheld, desktop and computer-connected styles. You
can find models in both brands that will print fabric iron-on labels for
clothing, as well as labels that are either permanent or removable.
Though models vary in features, each brand has special advantages and drawbacks.
We didn't find a perfect label maker, so your best choice depends on your
priorities -- and which drawbacks you can live with.
In general, Brother label makers seem to provide more features and label
options, but the feed mechanism creates a wide margin of extra tape that
many owners complain about as wasteful. (You can avoid some of this waste
by printing more than one label at a time.) A major plus for the Dymo D1
labels used in some but not all of the company's label makers is their split
backing that owners find very easy to peel off. Consider the types of labels
you'll want to print; for example, your choices among label makers are limited
if you want to print magnetic labels for white boards, refrigerators and
Factors to consider in choosing a label maker:
- Digital label makers are best. The old-fashioned embossing models are slow and awkward by comparison.
label materials do you need? Some labels are extra durable for resisting
grease, water and variations in temperature. Non-glossy paper labels
are fine for file folders, and you may want to be able to print special
labels such as magnetic labels for use on white boards, file cabinets and
refrigerator or iron-on fabric for clothing labels. Some owners love metallic
labels, while others couldn't care less. It's best to decide this before
narrowing your choice of label maker.
- Consider the label widths you'll need. Narrow
3.5 mm labels can be used on CD case spines. At the other extreme,
some users like labels as wide as 1 inch, for large print labels or for
several lines of text. You can even get label makers that print name badges.
which keyboard style you want. For kids and non-typists, a keyboard
arranged in alphabetical order is easier to use, but good typists will
be better served by a QWERTY keyboard.
- How many font and style options do you want? For simple, quick labels, extra options could just complicate use.
If you enjoy decorative labels, though, look for a model with lots of fonts
and styles. You can also get label makers that can print icons and borders
as well as standard punctuation and symbols.
- An electrical adapter or rechargeable
battery adds convenience and saves money. If you don't use a label
maker often, the batteries can deteriorate; if you do use one often, reviewers
say label makers go through batteries pretty fast.
- Does the screen preview
how the label will look? If the label maker offers a choice of fonts,
sizes and styles, it's best to be able to see in advance how the choices
will look when printed. Reviewers note, too, that some screens are more
readable than others.
- Memory can save time. Many label makers build in memory, saving
frequently used labels or phrases so you don't have to keep retyping
automatic label cutter is nice if you print loads of
labels at one time. Note, however, that manual cutters just require pressing a button.