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There are three main manufacturers of dedicated label printers: Dymo, Seiko Instruments and Brother. Brother has a range of thermal printers in the QL series and the QL-1060N is the largest of these. It's capable of taking anything from normal address labels up to 6 by 4-inch parcel labels, and plastic tape for more permanent marking.
The printer, in its dark grey and silver case, is functionally styled with a single roll of labels sitting inside a hinged cover with a large top radius. A clear-plastic output tray can be clipped in at the front to catch labels, and without this they end up on the desk in front of the printer, as there's an automatic cut-off after each one has printed.
There three buttons set into the front right-hand corner of the machine: one to switch it on and off, one make a cut to order - useful when printing on plastic tape - and one to feed labels through. At the back are three data sockets, as the printer is directly compatible with USB, serial and Ethernet connections.
A catch at either side lifts up to release the top cover and installing and feeding labels is then pretty straightforward. Each roll of labels is fitted in a cartridge that slots into the roll holder and tells the printer the type and size of the labels it holds, via a system of sensors in the base of the cartridge. When you locate the end of the label roll into the feed rollers you can use the feed button to set up the start position. Individual labels are keyed so the printer knows where each one starts, while tape can be fed through by any amount you wish.
The bundled software supplied with a label printer is a much more important part of the whole package than support software with a regular printer. Brother provides two dedicated applications: P-touch Editor and P-touch Address Book, which are reasonably comprehensive programs in their own right.
P-touch Editor can be used in two different modes: express and professional, though both seem to offer the same set of features. The difference is that the professional version shows virtually everything that's available on the one screen, which makes it easy to get at, but can be a bit daunting. There are full controls for where to place text, the format of characters, importing images, sizing and framing them and adding things like barcodes.
P-touch Address Book is, as the name might suggest, an address list program, where you can enter data manually, one contact at a time, or import it from a comma delimited file or from Outlook. It can work in collaboration with P-touch Editor, so you can custom design address labels and then run them with selections from the address list for mailings.
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