Which label maker is best?
Label makers make organization easier. A clothing label maker allows you to separate your closet into seasons. An embossing label maker lends a touch of class to cherished family photo albums. The right label maker tape sticks to pretty much anything.
Modern label makers come with many features. Our top pick, the DYMO LabelManager 420P High-Performance Label Maker, features a four-line display and a rechargeable battery. Whether you’re cleaning out your storage unit or rearranging your garage, here’s everything to consider when purchasing a label maker.
What to know before you buy a label maker
Label makers use thermal ink made of wax, resin or a combination of the two. Wax labels are the least expensive and last for years, but can bleed if they get wet. If there’s a chance your labels could come in contact with water, resin is the better choice. Resin labels are much tougher. Because of their ability to stand up to harsh conditions, you often see them used in industrial or commercial settings. This durability makes them more expensive.
For the best of both worlds, find a model that uses a wax/resin hybrid ink. This gives you the peace of mind of resin with the cost efficiency of wax.
The advantage of using a label maker versus using a computer printer is the ability to take a label maker anywhere. It’s important to note, however, that battery life varies greatly from model to model. If you’re printing a lot of labels at one time, you’re going to drain your battery fairly quickly.
Label makers use either rechargeable batteries or disposable alkaline batteries. Check the details of your prospective model for how long it takes to fully charge and how long a full charge lasts. Remember, you need to replace disposable batteries, which is an extra cost that might add up quickly.
Some label makers feature Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so you can print directly from your computer, tablet or smartphone. Other models connect via a USB cable.
While typing out your label on a computer but then printing it on a label maker may sound counterintuitive, it can save a lot of time. You save time typing because a computer keyboard is much bigger than a label maker keyboard. You also save time printing because you don’t have to readjust your desktop printer and hope you got the settings just right every time you need to make a label.
What to look for in a quality label maker
If you’re planning to use your label maker on the go, the screen size may be your most important consideration. Printing a label and finding a spelling mistake that you didn’t notice can be frustrating and costly.
The number of text lines that can fit on the display varies by model. Some display one, others display two, and high-end machines display four or more. If you have issues with your vision, a bigger screen is a good idea even if you’re only printing single-line labels.
If you owned a label maker in the past, you know they can take an agonizingly long time to print even a single, short label. Luckily, print speed has greatly improved in recent years. Check user reviews to see what other buyers are experiencing if you’re concerned.
Label makers are meant for small, localized jobs. If you need to print hundreds of labels for a major project, it may make more sense to use a computer printer or visit a local copy shop.
Custom fonts and label sizes
The generic, single-size font used on older label makers is thankfully also a thing of the past. Most models have at least a few fonts and font sizes to pick from. High-end devices may have a dozen or more. Most label makers also feature a variety of symbols and border designs to frame your text.
If you’re planning to print name tags, barcodes or any other label beyond the typical 3.5 mm size, be sure to check for label size customization options on your prospective model. Some label makers are better suited to certain types of labels than others.
How much you can expect to spend on a label maker
Basic models with few features are typically $20-$40. Midrange devices with a wider range of options are available for $40-$80. High-end models with all the bells and whistles run $80-$150.
Label maker FAQ
Are the labels made with label makers easy to remove?
A. Regular labels leave behind a sticky residue that can be difficult to remove. It may be easier to print a new label and stick it on top of the old one. You can also buy special removable label paper, which is manufactured specifically not to leave a mess behind. This can be an especially smart investment if you’re attaching your labels to cardboard boxes or other paper products.
Can you make labels for outdoor use with a label maker?
A. Yes, but their longevity varies based on the weather of your location. Extreme heat or regular rain greatly reduces the clarity of your labels, but there’s no harm in trying. Give yourself the best odds by buying a model that uses resin ink.
What’s the best label maker to buy?
Top label maker
What you need to know: This is the most versatile model from the biggest name on the market.
What you’ll love: It’s easy to read with a four-line display and it prints barcodes. You can connect it via a USB to your computer for a huge array of custom options.
What you should consider: The letters on the keyboard are in alphabetical order, which creates a bit of a learning curve.
Top label maker for the money
What you need to know: This midrange option has all the features most people need.
What you’ll love: It’s simple to use with great performance. The QWERTY keyboard features smart one-touch design keys to customize your labels.
What you should consider: Typing special characters and symbols is more complicated than it should be.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a budget countertop model perfect for small indoor jobs.
What you’ll love: The label maker features an oversized QWERTY keyboard and it comes with 14 fonts and over two dozen templates/patterns.
What you should consider: It requires six AAA batteries. It can run on AC power, but an adapter isn’t included.
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Frank Paiva writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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