If you have a printer which can handle several different tasks: printing text, graphics and photos on a wide range of media, why would you want a specialist printer too; one which can only do one thing? Seiko believes however, that its Smart Label Printers are so convenient, you’ll want one on your desk. There are three different models, which differ in print speed and the maximum size of label they can handle. The 430 is the top of the range model, which can print an address in around three seconds and handle labels up to 54mm x 189mm.
Although it looks quite stylish, the design of the Smart Label Printer 430 is essentially practical. There’s a roll holder at the top, under a clear cover, with the print mechanism below – printed labels feed out from a slot in the front panel – and a solid base to keep the unit stable. There are just two control buttons, one for power and another to feed labels out, should you need. A single, green LED shows when the printer’s on.
At the back are sockets for USB 2.0 and serial connections and for a ‘black block’ power supply, only in this case it’s a white block. The printer uses a thermal print head, which heats the paper to darken the heat-sensitive coating of the labels dot-by-dot. Think supermarket till, but with much higher print quality.
The main selling point of a label printer like the 430 is simplicity of use. If you can’t print single labels immediately and from a wide variety of different applications, you might as well use an ink-jet or laser printer with a sheet of labels. Except that you then have a sheet of labels when you only need one. With a typical A4 sheet of address labels, you would have to put it through a conventional printer 14 times to individually print all the labels on it.
Seiko provides a label design and management program called Smart Label, which works together with a background utility called SmartCapture. SmartCapture is designed to integrate with a good range of popular applications, including Word, WordPerfect, Outlook and Act!, to detect address information and automatically cut and paste it into Smart Label.
This is does quite well, even though moderns applications, like Office 2003 components, are not listed as supported. We tried it with Word 2003 and highlighted address details in a document. Clicking on the SmartCapture icon in XP’s utility tray, the software grabbed the text and opened it, as a label, in the Smart Label applet.