Label printer

27 Nov 2003

Product: Dymo LabelWriter Turbo 330
Price: €301.95

“Why would you want one?” has to be the first question, because a dedicated printer for labels might seem like self-indulgence of a high order. It depends on what you regularly do on your PC. You do not have to be an accounts department to have a lot of envelopes to get out and address labels are not the only options.

It is only a list of label types that really illustrates the sheer versatility of a label printer, eg shipping, bar codes, files and folders, boxes, name badges, video and tape cassettes, CD cases, shelf edges, drawers and cabinets etc. Yes, the point is that it is so handy and time saving – with super professional quality results every time – that loyal users will answer any criticism with “Hang the cost, we couldn’t do without it ever again.” They also tend to be fairly long-life items, five years or more being common.

Looking at the Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo we are really talking ‘best of breed’ because it is top of the speed range for a small desktop labeller – and top of the price range to match – spitting out crisp 300dpi labels at a rate of 32 per minute. We are all so used to the quiet operation of laser and inkjet printers that the operating noise of a diminutive label printer is disconcerting. But then if you really are going to have an output run of some hundreds you can time it for a quick coffee break. The Dymo uses thermal printing on special self-adhesive labels (standard address labels come 260 to the roll), like almost all label printers, so there are no ink/toner supplies required. This certainly helps to balance the initial cost, although the proprietary supplies are not cheap.

The control software with the Dymo LabelWriter (for Windows and Mac, USB connection) is particularly smart. You can print address labels directly from Word, for example, or import lists from most standard applications. There are special plug-ins for Outlook, Palm Desktop, Goldmine and others, giving a direct printing option. All font, type size and other design options are open and it can even scale down anything over-size. There are 54 label templates for maximum physical sizes up to 59x190mm and label varieties including transparent and coloured plus special shapes, eg videos, diskettes. The range of creative possibilities is very wide, including smart return address labels with logo and commercial message, mono photo on identity badges (or back of business card so that contact from the exhibition has some chance of remembering you!), individualising information packs, etc.

The alternative to a label printer is to use your standard printer and self-adhesive label sheets. Then you can even have colour, if you wanted to. But if you only need a single label or a few at a time, you either waste the balance of the blank labels (printer mechanisms do not take kindly to incomplete label sheets) or wait until you have a couple of dozen to run together. Yeah, right! For regular mass mailings or multiple copies of identical labels, of course, sheet-feeding a standard printer is the answer.

No technical comments are really necessary: this is a device that does exactly what it says on the box. There are two cheaper companion models: the LabelWriter 320, almost identical but slower at 16 per minute, and the 310 at just 8 lpm with smaller maximum label size of 40mm width.

By Leslie Faughnan