Top positive review
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Does Most Things Well; A Couple of Things, Not so Well
on September 22, 2011
Since I bought my first Brother label maker many years ago, I have been a big fan of label makers. They make organizing paper at home and at the office quick and convenient. I also used a label maker to label the drawers on my toolbox. You may use a label maker to label light switches and other miscellaneous controls and devices. I have even used a label maker to label boxes. Yes, I still have a Brother label maker and I still use it. I was glad to have the opportunity to review a different brand for comparison and to see how much label makers have evolved since I bought my last one, half a decade ago.
The Good Stuff:
This label maker has many interesting features. It has an array of symbols and frames (boxes and borders) that is beyond stunning. If there are labels you use often, you can save up to fifty of them. You may change the space between letters, go vertical, and even print them with a mirror image.
This label maker also prints bar codes. While you may think bar codes are only for work, inexpensive bar code readers can help you with a home inventory, or categorizing collections. This device will print index label tabs for files, which I plan to use, cable labels or flags, as some people call them, and wrapped labels. The array of features seems to be phenomenal and well beyond the features I have had available in the past.
Epson provided samples of some of the many tapes they plan to offer. Be advised that the label maker only comes with one sample tape, 12 mm black on white. Epson will also be offering colored tape, tape in different widths, glow-in-the-dark tape, and even iron-on tape that you might use for uniform nametags.
One of the big selling points with this label maker is that it uses relatively small margins on either end, meaning waste is relatively minimal. I consider this feature a big plus because the tape is expensive.
The display is cool. It has a backlight that a user may switch on or off. The backlight contrast is adjustable as well.
The label maker has options for multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, and German.
The back of the label maker has a location for a loop you may use to attach the label maker to your belt or place it around your neck. Epson is supposed to be offering an AC adapter if you want to avoid the expense of the six AA batteries it takes to power the label maker.
The Down Sides:
This label maker has all sorts of cool features that give it advantages over the three Brother label makers I have used. Unfortunately, there are a couple of few downsides as well.
The biggest downside is choosing the font size. On the Brother label makers, choosing the font is as easy as pushing a couple of buttons on the front panel and selecting until you have the size you want. The Epson requires you to hit a button and choose number of lines. Once you choose number of lines, then you need to choose a font size. I experimented a little to figure out how to do a couple of things. For example, you can print a small or large font on the top or bottom of a label, but you need to make the other line blank. I kept printing labels while trying various combinations to figure out how to accomplish that format. Therefore, if you want a small label near the top of a label, select two lines, hit enter, then select that you want a small font as the first line and hit enter again. When you enter the label, hit enter to create the second line and print. If you forget the second line, you get large font in the middle of the label.
I was surprised that this label maker does not seem to have a feature to let you position lines left, right or middle. The fancier Brother label makers let you do all three, and I tend to use the centering feature with multiple lines. While unnecessary, I think it looks better.
I tried looking for tape cartridge refills on Epson's web site and on Amazon, without success. Epson needs to make the refills widely available. The tape does seem to be available in Europe. The current price seems somewhat comparable to Brother label maker tape. With the smaller borders, that should mean less waste, making the Epson tape effectively cheaper.
What do you buy?
This label maker offers many features over comparable Brother label makers. While getting the font size correct required a bit of playing around, I think I have that down. I like less waste, and the smaller margin does that. If I need wider margins, either I can set label length through the tools button or I can add spaces. The only problem I have right now is getting my hands on more tape cartridges.
I think the Epson LW-400 is a winner and offers enough features over comparable Brother label makers that this label maker is going to be my new default label maker from now on.