What to Look for in a Label Maker

A label maker should be convenient to use, create clear, crisp, high-resolution print, and be easy to use. In addition, it should have the software and connectivity to operate efficiently with your laptop, phone, or other devices. The ideal characteristics for a label maker might differ depending on whether it is for occasional household use or large-scale production of labels for a business or organization. In the latter case, print speed, efficient ink use, durability, and other factors come into play.

If you use your label maker away from home or the office, a label maker that uses AAA batteries, AA batteries, or rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is essential. If you are printing more complex or ornate items, such as wedding invitations and gift tags, you would probably benefit most from a label maker that can work with the image editing software on your PC or Mac.

The ideal label maker depends on what labels you will be using the label maker to create. Keep the following list of features in mind as you make your choice.

Basic Label Maker Features

Maximum print length

Print length can be highly variable, mainly if printing is from rolls of paper. It can range from a few inches to 600 inches or more for industrial models.

Print width

Printer width can vary from ¼” for file folder labels to 4” or more for shipping labels and barcodes. Print width should be large enough to accommodate the text that you need in readable font sizes. Print width and length are critical considerations if you order products online and frequently need to return purchases.

Resolution

Resolution refers to the ability to print fine details and is measured in dots per inch (dpi). Most printers have a resolution of 300 dpi or greater. Keep in mind that artifacts such as boxiness or pixelation can result if the file image is different than the resolution of the label maker’s printer.

Speed

Print speed is also essential. Print speed varies by the type of printing process. A faster process like laserjet printing might be ideal for a large business printing mailing labels or labels for forms in bulk. On the other hand, an inkjet printer might be preferable to create small quantities of colored labels, such as address labels for holiday cards.

Label Maker Printing Mechanisms

Label makers are not all the same in terms of how they create an image. Different printing technologies have different strengths and limitations in cost, print speed, and print quality. As you shop for a label maker, know which printing processes meet your needs.

Thermal Transfer Label Printers

The thermal transfer printing process involves a ribbon that resembles a typewriter ribbon. The printer heats parts of the ribbon, melting the ribbon material to transfer to the paper. Thermal transfer printers are often black and white, but they can be in color. Their ink is more durable than the toner used in thermal printing to print bar codes and other product codes.

Direct Thermal Label Printers

Direct thermal label printers use heat to mark the paper itself without requiring ink. However, direct thermal label printers use treated paper that turns dark when exposed to heat. Treated paper can be prone to fading and discoloration, particularly if exposed to direct sunlight. Therefore, direct thermal printing is best for short-term use labels.

Laser Label Printers

Laser label printers, like laser printers in general, are fast and create a clear print. Therefore, they do not require special paper. However, their main drawback is the cost of toner, and laser printers produce some ozone when in operation, which could cause health effects with prolonged exposure.

Inkjet Label Printers

Inkjet printing is an industry-standard technology for printing. It has the advantage of producing bright colors, but the ink is often expensive. Ink can also become stuck in the nozzle, preventing the label maker from printing. Inkjet label makers tend to be less costly than ones that use laser printing, but they require replacement ink cartridges.

Some Of Our Favorite Label Makers

Of the many label makers out there, these models have many advantages that make them popular sellers. Use this guide to find out which of these alternatives works for you. This review focuses on DYMO and Brother products that print large labels for shipping and mailing. However, other models, such as the Brady BMP 21 plus label maker, the DYMO LabelManager, and the P-Touch Cube, print out narrower labels between 1 ¼” and 1 ½” inches in width, suitable for return address labels and file labels.

DYMO Label Maker Options

Dymo Labelwriter 4xl

The 4XL direct thermal label maker from Dymo has many desirable features for home businesses. It uses direct thermal printing and is wide enough to print barcodes and shipping labels. For connectivity, it has a USB port. The Labelwriter can print labels up to 4 x 6 inches at 300-dpi resolution and is convenient for creating shipping labels for Amazon, Etsy, and other e-commerce sites. The fast printing rate on these is incredibly fast. They produce almost one label per second, which makes it suitable for high-volume work. It is also compatible with Microsoft Office products, so you can develop labels on your computer and easily send them over to the Dymo Labelwriter.

Finding a label printer compatible with your existing office products is essential. The less time it takes to complete printing tasks will equate to higher productivity in your home or office, and the Dymo LabelWriter 4XL fulfills each of those expectations.

Dymo LabelWriter 450

The Dymo LabelWriter 450, like the 4XL, is a direct thermal printing label maker. It has a 600×300 dpi resolution. It prints a bit faster than the 4XL, at 71 labels per minute, and coordinates with Microsoft Excel. Use Outlook and other software to print out addresses and mailing labels. The LabelWriter 450 is compatible with Mac and PC operating systems. It also has a smooth and sleek design that will look stylish on your desk.

The Dymo LabelWriter 450 will ensure clear, crisp labels that add an extra artistic touch to your labeling projects.

DYMO XTL 500 Industrial Label Maker

The DYMO XTL 500 includes many features that make it ideal for high-volume label printing applications. It has a touch screen for easy operation, rapid printing on labels of 4” x 6” and 104mm x 169mm dimensions, and 300-dpi resolution.

The XTL 500 has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery as well as a power cable and AC power adaptor. Its software works with Microsoft Office and similar programs. An LCD display with a touch screen makes it easy to see what you are printing, and its auto-cutter produces professional-quality equally sized labels.

Each of these offerings from DYMO provides rapid, precise printing in conjunction with software and applications running on your PC, Mac, Android, or Apple phone. The DYMO label makers come with power cables and adapters, so you do not have to worry about batteries. Small business owners and anyone working or running an organization from home will find the DYMO label makers invaluable tools. This fact is not to say that DYMO only makes large label makers. The LabelManager PnP, not reviewed here, creates smaller labels from ¼” to ½’ in width.

Brother Label Maker Options

Brother label makers are an eclectic group, including the stylish P-Touch product line. They range from the small and personal to the larger and more powerful models geared for business use. For example, the P-Touch or the P-Touch EDGE, a handheld label maker, has rubber bumpers to protect it if someone drops it.

Brother P-Touch Label Maker

The Brother P-Touch uses thermal transfer printing technology. It features a large and readable touch screen and can connect to your phone, laptop, or PC, and it is wide enough to print shipping labels and mailing labels. The P-Touch has internal storage for your label designs, templates, and frames. The P-Touch editor software allows users to develop labels without the hassle of installing software or connecting with a computer.

Brother QL1110NWB Wide Format Printer

The Brother QL1110NWB prints labels using direct thermal printing and can print labels up to four inches in width at 300-dpi. It works with PCs without additional software and has WIFI, USB, Bluetooth, USB, Ethernet, and WIFI connectivity. As with the DYMO XTL500, the Brother QL1110NWB has an auto-cutter. In addition, it has pre-installed software for label design. Its speed holds up well against the DYMO models, printing 69 labels per minute. The drawbacks of this model are the lack of color printing and the fact that it is only compatible with Windows software.

Brother P-Touch P-Touch CUBE XP Label Maker

The P-Touch Cube is a small label maker without a QWERTY keyboard designed to work with a computer or smartphone. In addition, it can only print labels that are up to ½” wide, so it will not work for shipping labels. If you plan to use your label maker to print mailing labels, barcodes, or QR codes for returning purchases, choose a different product with a larger potential print width.

Avery Label Maker Options

Avery Products Corporation, which originated from a company that manufactured adhesive labels, offers just about everything you could ever need to print a label – other than a label printer. There are nearly unlimited Avery label sizes for any need and Avery’s software includes a convenient user interface and a variety of label templates. If you need Avery labels in bulk, they will ship you blank labels or custom-designed labels. Avery does not offer label printers or label-making hardware.

Common Questions About Label Makers

What Is the Best Label Maker for Home Use?

Essential characteristics for home use are ease of use, easy software, and a wide variety of print widths and lengths. The templates should also be compatible with other applications such as gift labels, return labels, and address labels, simplify printing, mainly if they are compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, other software programs, smartphones, tablets, and PCs.

P-Touch Cube is a viable contender for a home label maker that makes narrower labels such as address labels. In addition, the P-Touch Embellish features a conventional QWERTY keyboard.

Brother’s QL1110NWB Wide Format printer is ideal for home office applications, mailing labels, and shipping because of its connectivity options and its ability to print extensive, readable labels.

What Is The Best Label Maker for Teachers?

A label maker should be economically priced and able to function independently or integrated with classroom technology for teachers. High-volume printing and print speeds are not likely to be a significant concern for most classrooms compared to office or industrial applications. The best label makers for this field are the DYMO Labelwriter 450 and the Brother models for their ease of use.

Is Dymo or Brother label maker better?

Both Dymo and Brother have their advantages, and choosing the right label maker may be more about finding the particular model that best suits your needs than choosing one brand over another. The DYMO models overall tend to support professional, high-volume label making and business or shipping functions. Brother label makers are more diverse, including rapid thermal printing label makers with the same accessories found in DYMO models. However, the Brother lineup also includes smaller label makers for address labels, folder labels geared toward an individual or home use.

Do You Need a Label Printer to Print Labels?

You do not only need a label maker to print labels. A desktop printer/scanner can also print labels. However, a label maker may be more convenient if you need:

  • A portable label maker
  • A convenient interface
  • Reduced printing costs and wear-and-tear on your printer

Label makers often come with templates designed for particular applications, such as shipping and addresses. Unlike a printer designed to connect to a desktop PC, a label maker is likely to have one-touch keys for printing. Label makers also have additional features, like an auto-cutter, which would be helpful in school and office contexts.