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It's difficult to run a speed test on this printer as a typical address label prints in under a second. Print time for continuous labels varies with the length of label, but is pretty quick, compared with a typical inkjet print, because of the size of the 'page'.
Print quality is good, very densely black, though character edges look a little blurred, certainly in comparison with laser print. The label editing program changes the size of the text as you add more lines and a six-line address takes the font size down to around 12 point - still perfectly readable.
Our big test labels on the wide continuous roll were again very consistently black, with no signs of artefacts to disturb the look of the printed message.
While not quite as quiet as an inkjet printer, the QL-580N isn't noisy and the sounds it does make are pretty inoffensive, mainly whirs and buzzes.
The only consumable with this printer is the label roll, as the thermal head, which is self-cleaning, is a lifetime component. There's a range of 20 different labels, including pre-cut and continuous. The pre-cut labels are mainly rectangular, for addresses, bar codes and identity badges, but there are three different circular label blanks available, including one large enough to label CDs and DVDs.
We priced the running costs of this machine on a large address label, so the costs are directly comparable with the Dymo LabelWriter Duo, which we reviewed a few months back. We found a particularly inexpensive source of these labels on Amazon Marketplace and, although this seems to be a completely legitimate source, the price of a roll of 400 labels is just 3.64p, little more than a third of the price from any other source we could find. If you have to pay £9.50, the price more commonly asked, the cost per label will, of course, rise considerably.
As it is, these labels come out at around 0.91p each, which is very inexpensive.
The range of labels available for the QL-580N and the cost of printing on them is very competitive, when compared with its main rival. Nearly all the labels are paper-based, with little in the way of plastic substrates available. This is only a single-roll machine, so you have to swap rolls if you need to print on more than one width of label, but the labels produced are of very good quality and the supporting software integrates well with single or networked use.