The P-Touch 2100 can print barcodes, too, and 17 different protocols are supported, including CODE39, CODE128, EAN128 and ISBN 2 and 5. The printer does surprisingly well at reproducing greyscale as well as black and white images. Although it's resolution is only 180dpi, the dither effects it uses generally give good results. More noticeable are the slightly jagged edges to circular characters and those with diagonals, but for general office labelling the results are quite acceptable.
Very limited punctuation on the keyboard
The device spends a little while thinking about printing before any label starts to appear, but a 100mm label took under 20 seconds to print. This isn't amazingly fast, but you rarely print so many labels you'll be left twiddling your thumbs. The only consumables are the tape cartridges and these vary in price, depending on tape width and, like the printer itself, can be bought for considerably less from on-line outlets, rather than direct from Brother. Using an 18mm wide tape as an example – since this is what’s supplied with the machine – and allowing for wastage with chop-offs, gives a cost of 15.6p for a 100mm label.
You shouldn't compare this with the cost of, for example, a paper address label, as tape labels are much more durable and are, for example, said to show very little sign of fading after a year of simulated sunlight. Even so, it's a bit more expensive than an equivalent length of Dymo printed tape (a similar technology label, not the embossed variety) and tends to curl more, so that when you remove the backing paper on the Brother label, you can find long labels sticking to themselves if they’re not handled carefully.
What the P-Touch 2100 does highlight, is that with some inventive thought, a simple application like labelling can be given extra purpose, through clever design of both the device and controlling software. Indeed, this is an extremely versatile, self-contained label printer, which can produce a variety of ornate and specialist labels, as well a bog-standard names and warnings. The PC-based software is excellent and extends the printer’s feature set. However, it’s wasteful of tape, which exacerbates the consumable cost. ®
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Hasn't ANYONE read their manual, or just tried fiddling with the settings ?
The Brother label printers I've used have a setting to control the tape usage. If printing several labels, just turn down the tape setting and it shoves out less blank tape - you then need to cut the labels apart with scissors. The default setting adds blank tape to shift the printed label clear of the cutter PLUS sufficient extra blank tape to make the resulting labels symmetrical.
I've used different versions of these printers for years - wouldn't be without them.
PS - the labels are actually laminated - there is nothing high tech about this. Pull an old cartridge apart and you'll find that it contains three rolls of material. First there is the base - the background colour with adhesive and peel off backing paper. Then there is a roll of ordinary thermal transfer 'ink' in whatever colour the text is printed. Lastly there is a clear layer (with it's own adhesive back) which is laminated onto the front of the background after printing. The result is (as others have said) a very durable label.
Now if only they did Mac software for these.
Reducing wastage of label tape
If you know that you need to print several labels then the you can reduce the amount of tape wastage by printing one (long) label that contains all the text you want, separated by a few space characters, and then use a scissors to cut out the individual labels. For example, when labelling plugs, print one label that says "TV radio kettle toaster hi-fi DVD".
The reason I made the wastage comment is that the Dymo LabelWriter Duo, for example, doesn't waste tape in the same way. OK, it's a label printer, rather than a standalone label-maker, but it uses very similar technology. All it really needs to avoid the wastage is some way to wind the tape back, so the print head lines up with start of each label -- not too hard to achieve, I wouldn't have thought. I reckon 12% wastage on an average length of label is quite high.
Steve, I'll give you exclamation mark, but it still can't do (, ), ", _, +, = or @ from the keyboard, only by selection from a menu. Some symbols are more essential than others for labels, or course.
Very Useful tool...
I've used various iterations of the P-Touch and M-touch label machines for a number of years. They are ideal for just about any task that requires a label- I used mine primarily for labeling network and telcomm connections, printers, and servers. While the PC interface is a handy feature to have, it's only really useful for batch operations and a bit of mucking about with their software.
Agreed - I have a Dymo LabelPoint 150 for Network, system and labelling the tea and coffee jugs - and it does what it says on the tin - prints labels from the nice and small to the stupidly large to indicate a switch is dead and don't use it.
It's defiantly a tool an engineer should have if they're trying to document things and work out where they should go.
My soultion to the wastage (apart from printing smaller labels) is to use a pair of scissors to do trimming with - part of the issue is the amount of feed is required.
But unless you're printing every 5 minutes, tapes last for a fair old time in my experience