Brother P-Touch 2100 label printer

Sign of the times

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.

Brother P-Touch 2100

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.

Verdict

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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Brother P-Touch 2100

Brother P-Touch 2100 label printer

Good quality but pricey, thermal tape labels for all kinds of small signage.
Price: £107 RRP