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Style: LW-400|Change
Price:$34.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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on December 28, 2011
Ok, I am going to focus on one area here that has been under-referenced by the other reviews. Those reviews, by the way, are excellent, and provide a thorough review of the product and its capabilities.

The label cartridges for this unit are way too pricey. At $17-21 per cartridge, they are roughly double the cost of refills for other label makers, and represent 50% of the cost of the unit itself! It appears to be a continuation of the HP/Epson scam of selling you an inkjet printer at a loss, and making it back on the printer cartridges over time.

The unit itself is nice, easy, and pleasant to use; as I said, other "most helpful" reviews will cover the unit's abilities in ways I need not echo. But as an ongoing cost, the price of the label cartridges is a sore spot. Also note that the unit ships with a "sample" label cartridge that contains a 4 meter tape - less than half of what the normal cartridge carries. C'mon Epson, if you're going to rip me off on cartridges for the life of my machine, how about a full measure to get me started!

If the price per cartridge drops below $12 each, my review goes up to 5 stars.

Also, note that RetailMeNot has promo codes for discounts on Epson cartridges from the Epson website that makes them cheaper than Amazon.
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Style: LW-400|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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.

Enjoy!
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VINE VOICEon October 6, 2011
Style: LW-400|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a comparison review of the Epson LW-300 and LW-400 labelers that I received from Amazon Vine to review, and the Brother P-touch 1880 that I bought from Costco. All three are in the same approximate price range, although the Brother was significantly cheaper than SRP at Costco. I'll hit upon the key differences that I noted but will not discuss the PC linking available to the P-touch 1880 since it doesn't work with a Mac.

The Epson 400 screen is a two-line display comprised of illuminated blue letters on a white background, making it MUCH easier to read than the 300 or the Brother. In addition, the size and shape make the 400 more conducive to handheld portable labeling use. The 300 is smaller and somewhat lighter, and would work well for the same purpose, but the shape is not as efficient for secure, handheld use. The 400 also includes a lanyard attachment point making it even better for secure portability and ease of use. The Brother is designed for desktop use, but is light enough to be portable and it runs on 6 batteries like the Epson units (Epson 400 and Brother use AA; Epson 300 uses AAA).

All three units are cartridge systems. The Epson labeling tape cartridge is removed or inserted by easily removing the back. The batteries are in the same area so they are replaced the same way. The Brother's batteries are in back also, but the cartridge is inserted by lifting an access flap on top. Brother's method is easier, and doesn't require setting down the back piece while inserting the cartridge, nor would you need to lay the display face down in the process, thus eliminating the chance of scratching the bezel in the process. However, with care, the Epson method should present no issues to the user, but would take a few seconds longer to accomplish.

I printed a sample from each machine and tried to include pictures of those samples but it is not yet allowed by Amazon. The resolution of the Brother is somewhat superior to both of the two Epson units, the outputs of which appear identical to me. It is important to note, however, that the Epson units provide quite acceptable results for most applications. But if clarity is of primary importance to you, then the Brother appears to be the more capable unit for large, standard-sized text. The small text is crisp and clear on the all machines. The easy to remove split-back tape is universal between all the machines. Brother claims to make hardier tapes, but I did not have the facilities to test longevity on either brand. Tactilely, the Brother tapes feels stiffer and stronger to me, but not by much. Some Epson tapes can be ironed on, but I do not know if Brother has entered this realm.

Another area where the Brother excels is in print speed. The two Epson units printed the 52 letters in my test about 33% slower than the Brother. (Brother 29.2 seconds; both Epson units took 40.1 sec).

But where the Epson units excel compared to Brother is in the lack of product waste through lead in and lead out. The short, 10mm lead-in and lead-out are appropriate to prevent jamming in the printer and better tape adhesion, plus they require no manual trimming unless used in a tight spot. (At the time of this review, the Epson tapes were not available for sale so I could not provide a comparison price, but the tapes issued with the labelers are longer than Brother's at 9 meters long, and appear on the Epson site at the same length). The Brother tapes are NOT cheap. The 12mm tapes are 26 feet long and currently cost ~$12-14, or roughly 50¢/ft, and it wastes about an inch at each end unless the settings are adjusted to trim that back on one end to save about 3/4". But the other end is not adjustable so it must be manually trimmed for balance if the other end is reduced to save product, wasting time as well as material. If your labels are short (say 2", for file folders) then ½ of the tape is wasted!!! That computes out to $6 of every $12 spent going into the trash!

All of these labelers include multiple fonts, various sizes, some special characters, multiple symbols, and various formatting options. Of note is that the Brother is limited to two fonts whereas the Epson has 14 fonts, including old english and script, albeit pretty lame looking in my opinion. In addition, the 300 can print on two lines (like the Brother) but the 400 can put out some pretty sharp 3 and 4 line labels, although the text is pretty tiny (as expected). The method of showing multiple lines on the 300's single-line display is a series of letters with a symbol showing the beginning of the second line. The 400's two-line display is much better. It shows each line separately, and the lines can be scrolled for review, thus making it easier to balance the line lengths.

One thing that irritated me about the Brother is apparently common to the Epson 300 and 400: the largest print size is the same on the 1/2" tape as it is on the 3/4" tape. I was hoping that the print head would take advantage of the extra print area, but it does not. The additional tape width is apparently to make the label stand out, or to help in adhering to the surface to which it is attached; it is not to make the font bigger.

These new labelers take a little getting used to. In order to provide all the functionality, fonts, special characters, symbols, etc, several keystrokes are sometimes required. This is common with all three units. Once the user gets familiar with the function, however, it doesn't take long to compose and print one or multiple labels. The Epson printers come with basic use guides adhered to the back for quick reference.

There are a couple of other nice features incorporated in the 400 that I found useful and convenient. It will format your labels so that they become either index tabs, cable flag labels, cable wrapped labels, or even barcode labels. At home or in business, it's nice to have the formatting for these types of labels already built into the machine.

The functionality of the 300 and 400 are the nearly the same; same print speed, same fonts, symbols, and styling, same borders, same print clarity, etc. The differences lie in the 400's much improved display, better portability, and the additional built-in labeling formats (see above). Except for the slightly reduced clarity, the Epson units are both more functional and less wasteful than the Brother I own, and if the tapes are comparably priced, they'd be cheaper to operate.

At the time of this review the Epsons were priced at $39 for the 300 and $49 for the 400, which is also the SRP. The display and other features on the Epson 400 makes it a wise choice for the additional $10. I'm rating these machines based on bang for the buck.

[SAFETY NOTE: according to the safety instructions, the Epson units are not designed to be used as a step. If you or one of your employees want to use a plastic labeler to gain a couple inches in height, you can expect the thing to break.]
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on October 24, 2014
I like the QWERTY keyboard, but I don't like the fonts. There's only one decent font (Roman); all the rest are kind of strange (see attached images). The spacing of the I and L characters in the sans serif fonts is too close together, making it hard to read.
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on August 2, 2015
I bought this label maker for the purpose of printing two-line labels with large font. Epson claims this product "supports tape widths up to 18 mm." What they don't tell you is that it only prints in the area used by 12 mm tape. When printing on 18 mm tape 50% of the vertical space is wasted.
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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2011
Style: LW-400|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Labelmakers remind me of the episode of Seinfeld in which George labels everything and it all peels off. Labelmakers have come a long way since then.

I've used a few in the past. Generally they are limited and clumsy. The LW-400 was extremely portable and comfortable to use with one hand. With my other labelmakers I often had to consult a cheat guide to figure out exactly how to get the results I wanted. The Epson was very intuitive and some of the key features were printed on the back. I had no problems quickly getting up to speed.

The symbol library was extensive (and needed a manual). When space is limited, a picture as they say, speaks 1000 characters and while it didn't have 1000 characters it did have several hundreds.

In particular, this was designed for the mobile technician. While it had standard labeling it had MULTIPLE options for labeling cables allow vertical and horizontal place and mirroring so that way the tag could be seen by both sides. Now you have no excuse not to mark everything (which port is workstation 7?)

Typical of most portable labelmakers, this one uses lots of batteries (6 AAA), but I found that my rechargables worked just fine. The labels came in a variety of sizes and colors and were easy to peel and place. No problems with them falling off (unlike George's labelmaker). There is an AC adapter option, but that obviously impacts its portability.

Some others reviews pointed out a lack of fonts. This wasn't a problem with me as I was more concerned with the placement of the text and the variety of print options. Instead of printing two copies of a label and sticking them together to mark a cable I now had an options to print one long cable and mirror the text.

Overall a great label printer for mobile technicians.
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on January 4, 2013
I've had two previous label makers: the Brother PT-1900/1910 and the Dymo LetraTag Plus LT-100H. I use one in the office and one at home. The Dymo instantly paled in comparison the Brother unit, but was good enough until stopped working completely last week after it's second battery change caused some sort of malfunction from which it would not recover. The Brother label maker has been working very well for several years now and my only complaint about it is the waste of labels created by the huge margins (and when you consider the ridiculous cost if the these cartridges, that's a valid concern). So I came back to Amazon to do some quick research and decided to spend a little extra on the Epson LabelWorks LW-400 because reviewers had mentioned the smaller margins and that drove my decision to purchase.

The quality of the labels the Epson LW-400 produces was unacceptable to me given my comparison to the Brother unit, which prints very crisp and sharp labels that last. I couldn't quite believe how low-res the labels from the Epson were, especially given the advancements that I assume have been made in the 5-7 years since I purchased the Brother unit. They were not at all crisp and sharp; rather the printing looked shaky and NONE of the fonts would print with a clear boundary; they were all ragged around the edges. And think that is unacceptable. It looked really fancy, and I'm sure it did some really cool things that my Brother unit couldn't do. But the priority of any label maker should be the clarity of the printing and the Epson failed miserably.

I've returned the Epson LW-400 and will purchase another Brother unit.
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on November 25, 2015
This is the best organizational tool I have purchased to date! It came with a pamphlet with the 89 different frames/borders that can be printed with this label maker, and I didn't even need to read the directions to figure out which button does what. It's very user-friendly and is easily held in my small hands. The backlit screen makes viewing a breeze no matter what type of lighting I am in. One word of note: whether you buy the half inch or three quarter inch tape, the largest print size is the same for both. This label maker also allows you to make up to (4) lines on each label, and also has multiple settings for whatever your project is: whether it be for page flags, labeling cords, or standard printed labels. Definitely recommend to anyone else trying to channel their inner OCD.

UPDATE 12/8/15:
I used this last night for beginning my labeling around the house, beginning with the recent tea canisters I bought off of Amazon and attached photos. The font I used was CL Roman with narrow spacing and bold lettering. I was easily able to adjust the label length to make sure I didn't waste any of my precious Black on Clear 1/2" tape. I added the labels over top of silver sparkled washi tape purchased at my local Target for $2.99... I love it! I'm ready for my tea shipment today! I couldn't stop there and also had to put labels on my new file folders also purchased at Target.

NOTE: Notice the Chocolate Peppermint label... I accidently left the label maker on "2 Lines" for that label, and it seemed to cut off a little bit of the capitalized letters. I didn't want to redo it and waste the tape - and it honestly isn't noticeable enough for me to care. But take that into consideration when adding multiple lines on a single strip of tape; it may make your wording slightly wonky.
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on March 28, 2012
The label maker is cute and works and does what I wanted it to do. However, I would have been much happier if I had known it did NOT come with an AC adapter. If you want one of those, instead of using 8 AA batteries, you have to buy it for $25 from Epson directly because no one sells it including Amazon. That is a joke. It's the same price as the machine itself just to get the adapter. Retarded. I wouldn't have been so upset if it was clearly labeled that the adapter was missing. Finding out after the fact was just plain annoying.
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VINE VOICEon March 15, 2012
Style: LW-400|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a fantastic little label maker. It has tons of options when it comes to characters and label layout. Very easy to use. Solidly made and well designed.

But there is one big fly in the ointment. It's going to get pretty pricey in the long run if you print a lot of labels. First off, it doesn't come with an AC adapter. And it chews through batteries at a fairly steady clip. Secondly the label stock is quite expensive. Epson seems to be following the classic model that is used for printers. Sell good quality hardware cheap and then sock it to people on the consumables.

Bottom Line:
If you print a few labels once in awhile this is the ticket.
If you print a lot of labels frequently, look around for something more budget friendly.
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