Specialist, single-function printers may look like an extravagance, but if you have a lot of that type of printing to do, they can be a major time saver. Brother, Dymo and Epson are the three main makers of label printers and Brother’s P-Touch P750W tries to bring the genre right up to date with a wireless printer offering NFC (Near Field Communication) connection to a variety of devices and a very neat basic USB setup.
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The P-Touch P750W is a black box about the size of a small NAS drive, at 78 x 152 x 143mm. On top there are four buttons, five indicator lights and a large pad for an NFC device to tap and make connection. The indicators are the only form of feedback and you’ll need to refer to a printed table to understand what all the colours and flashing sequences mean.
The buttons are for power, a manually initiated label cut, Wi-Fi connection and P-Edit. The last of these is the most intriguing – P-Edit is the PC-based label editor software, which in its full version can be downloaded for free from the Brother site. However, its simplified form, P-Edit Lite, is stored within the printer itself and when you connect up via USB it can be loaded and run directly through the cable.
HP briefly tried this technique of including printer drivers within its printers, which we thought was an advance, but the idea seems to have fizzled out. Brother’s implementation is quick and easy and means you can connect the P-Touch P750W to any desktop or laptop and print immediately.
P-Edit Lite offers basic label design, with the ability to add frames and clip-art, but the full version of the software goes much further, with some really useful templates for labelling everything from parcels to cables and patch panels to flower pot plant tags.
As well as printing text in any font available on your PC, the software provides a huge range of clips, from electronic symbols, to cartoon animals and faces. There are frames and textured backgrounds, too, so you can be quite artistic with your label designs.
If you need to print from a tablet or smartphone, the free iPrint and Label app offers a good, if simplified, feature set. This label creator works wirelessly direct with the printer.
Tape cassettes are available with tape widths of 3.5, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24mm and these clip in to the side of the printer, once you’ve lifted the cassette compartment lid. You don’t have to thread the tape through the mechanism to get started, simply close the case and it feeds.
Speed isn’t that much of an issue with a label printer, but we printed a two-line 100mm label on the 24mm tape supplied with the printer in 10 seconds, noticeably quicker than the 17s from the last Brother tape printer we reviewed, back in 2012.
There’s also an improvement in the waste situation. The earlier printer happily chopped off a 23mm tab before printing each label, so throwing away nearly a quarter of the tape in each cassette. The P-Touch P750W still precedes the text on each label with 20mm of blank plastic, but it’s still a slight improvement.
The print quality, while adequate with a resolution of, we estimate, around 200dpi, can be a little jagged along the edges of curves and diagonals. The laminated labels are not embossed when printed and the text and graphics are protected with a clear top layer, so can’t rub off.
The tape cassettes contain 8m of tape and cost between £13 and £18, depending on the width of the tape and colour combinations. Most of the tapes offer black text on a coloured background, but you can also get white, red, gold and blue text.
Based on the 24mm tape supplied with the printer and an average 100mm label, we estimate the cost at 22p per label. This is on a par with Brother’s main rival, Dymo, but still means you should consider carefully what needs labelling.
It depends mainly on your need for laminated labels. There are obvious candidates, like schools and colleges, offices and computer departments, but even in the home there are a number of uses, including gardening, kitchen, garage and workshop. This labeller and its labels are on a par cost wise with similar machines from its main rival.
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The Brother P-Touch P750W is a neat, modern label printer with useful extras, such as its diskless USB installation and NFC Wi-Fi connection to tablets and phones. There’s a wide range of label stock available for the machine and labels are smart and robust, with a huge range of fonts, predefined templates and clipart available.