This is a versatile label printer in its own right, but when it’s connected to a computer and used with the supplied P-Touch Editor, it’s even more versatile. This is the best label editor we’ve seen and includes templates for CD and DVD cases, memory cards, videocassettes, organisers and address labels, though it would be expensive to label your letters this way.
The editor shows exactly what your label will look like, including showing an infinitely long strip (well, part of one), if you choose Auto for the label length.
The speed of a label printer isn’t a major specification, as most of the time you’ll be printing small runs of short labels. A 100mm label took 18s to print from a PC, which is adequate, without being lightning fast.
The only unfortunate aspect of the print process is that, by default, the printer feeds 23mm of tape through and snips it off before starting to print each label. This means that with a standard 8m long tape in a Brother cartridge, over a metre of it will be lost, if the average label length is 100mm and labels are all printed individually.
The amount of waste can be reduced, but only by increasing the margins on either end of each label to 24mm. By contrast, most Dymo tape printers have label margins of around 12mm.
The 180dpi thermal printhead heats the substrate of the label below its transparent PET top layer, so when its printed, there’s no embossed surface to damage, if it gets scraped. 180dpi isn’t a very high resolution so, although print is jet black, character edges can look quite jagged close up – fine at a distance, though.
The printer also reproduces clip-art and symbols (of which Brother provides a very good selection) clearly and even manages some dithered greyscales.
Label costs depend on the width of the tape and on how much is wasted. With no waste, but 24mm margins, a 100 x 18mm label (actually 148mm long) costs 18.76p, while if you chose to waste 23mm with a cut-off at just one end, the cost drops to15.59p.
This isn’t cheap, as the Dymo LabelWriter Duo costs 15.80p, but for a 24mm tape width. With a Brother cartridge costing just over £10, though, it probably won’t seem too onerous.
It’s very easy to think of uses for this printer, apart from the obvious labelling of files, jars and boxes. The labels it produces are easy to read and durable, though Brother remains vague on times and standards used in producing its claims. The PC software is very versatile and nearly all the functions can also be reproduced in standalone mode, even battery operated, though it may take a few more menus to get there. At around £75, it’s quite a bargain.