I have a label printer – a USB-connected device that prints out large labels for tool boxes, organizers, and other such things. I bought my Brother QL-700 10 years ago, and it has served me reasonably well since then. But, my needs have changed.
At the time, I didn’t like the limitations of handheld label printers, or the smaller labeling capabilities of the models I was looking at.
But now, I need a versatile handheld printer.
After sorting through a couple of different options by Dymo, I found Epson’s PX series of handheld Labelworks label printers.
The Epson handheld label makers look to check off a lot of boxes for me, and offer added features and capabilities that further sold me on the brand’s models.
I was originally looking for a heatshrink printer, and this can do it. From their marketing materials, Epson has a wider range of sizes and colors than other brands.
It can also print to a range of label sizes. I have organizers with hundreds of removable bins. In some of those, only a slip of paper inside gives indication as to the contents. Being able to add 1/4″ labels seems convenient.
And, it can also print to self-laminating strips, where there’s black-on-white text and a clear wrapper that allows for easy cable identification. This avoids the need for pricier large-size heatshrink labels that can go over bulky pre-terminated end connectors.
I’m sold on the idea. I placed my order today, but wanted to see what you guys think about this type of product.
Epson also offers Bluetooth-connected and semi-stationary models, but I started to see the benefits in having a handheld unit.
There are two industrial models with built-in keyboards, and they both look to have similar graphics and symbols libraries. There’s the LW-PX700, and the LW-PX900. The main difference, from what I can tell, is that the PX900 can print to higher DPI and can work with a wider range of labels – up to 1.5″ as opposed to 1″ for the PX700.
Each model has two options – just the label maker with an AC adapter and starter label cartridge, or a “full kit” that adds in a rechargeable battery and carrying case.
- LW-PX700 – $129
- LW-PX700PCD Kit – $205
- LW-PX900 – $319
- LW-PX900PCD Kit – $399
At the time of this posting, Amazon has a $50 coupon on the “lite” kit version, bringing that price down to $269.
One of the things that helped me almost immediately dismiss other brands is Epson’s attention to customer education.
What are the differences between PX700 and PX900 models? There’s a video for that:
What exactly is self-laminating tape?
They show this clearly in a product brochure page on the Epson website.
There are other features I found appealing, such as the ability to self-rewind labels to help eliminate blank margin space.
It looks like the newer PX700 can save up to 5 image files to the device, but the PX900 can’t do that.
I went with the PX900 for its higher DPI printing and larger size printing capabilities. If ToolGuyd wasn’t footing the bill, the PX700 is much more attractively priced.
A label printer isn’t necessary – I’ve been using masking tape, taped-over paper, and small slips of paper for years. But for me, this looks like a problem-solver and a way to eliminate common frustrations.
If all goes well, I’ll be using it maybe 40% for parts bins, bags, and drawers, 40% for project wiring and cables, and 20% for misc workshop and supply labeling needs.
Prior to learning about the Epson printers, I had been considering the Dymo Rhino 4200 (~$67-$80) and 5200 (~$133-$155) models.
For personal use, the Dymo 4200 seems like it would have been a good fit. It has a QWERTY keyboard, unlike the 5200, and is reasonably priced at just under $67 at the time of this posting. The Rhino 4200 is limited to 3/4″ max label width.
A lot of little things pushed me from the Dymo to the Epson, such as the Epson’s automatic cutter, greater heat shrink tubing color options, printing speed, and PC software option. Once I thought about how much manual labeling I do, and how labeling will be required for an upcoming project, the added expense seemed justified.
I like my Brady M210 but Brady gouges you real bad on tape refills. They also waste TONS of tape which is definitely by de$ign. Epson tape seems to be less expensive, I wonder how much tape I’d have to go through before it’s worth paying 3x more for the printer itself. Looks like a good label maker, though.
The Brady also doesn’t use a qwerty keyboard which is just plain dumb.
The Epson’s auto-rewind function supposedly saves a lot of waste. I priced out how much cartridges will cost, especially heat shrink, and this helped me justify the added equipment cost.
I didn’t consider Brady, but I see what you mean about refill pricing. Their 1/4″ heat shrink is ~$8.15/per foot compared to $4.63/foot for Epson.
Close to $5/foot is still a lot, but I can’t see smaller wires being as easy to wrap with self-laminating tape as larger cables.
The Brady are great.
Work purchased BMP21/BMP61s five years ago and the M210 and M610 this year. We have a test label on a guard rail over a year ago and it’s still readable.
The 61s have the qwerty layout, as well as wifi. Both units have USB. They have phone apps as well so it’s a best of most worlds.
The labels are more expensive, that’s not a big complaint due to how well they’ve worked. Legibility after exposure to chemicals(alcohol based solvents), adhesive to surfaces(no peeling), and no residue on removal.
I went through the same thought process and ended up with the PX-400 bluetooth version. The app has been incredible to use for iOS. I don’t have a need to use it hand held so the screen on my phone vs the lcd screen of the handheld made more sense. I e tried the self lam cable wraps and the heat shrink with good success. FYI Epson has two apps. LabelEditor (Basic) and DataComm which has pre loaded templates for rack mounting and wiring. Either way Epson has a top notch system and I can’t recommend the PX system highly enough. The app is a game changer though I would definitely recommend looking into it.
I picked up a LW-PX700 about a year ago and have been very happy with it for labelling various projects from storage bins to wiring in my camper. I have been a little disappointed by a couple labels coming off but maybe I needed to clean those better than I realized. It wasn’t clear if it was a surface prep or material compatibility at the time and Epson’s literature didn’t give me as much guidance as I would like to have had on that.
I have a Dymo and love it. As mentioned, they create a lot of waste but there are ways to mitigate it. I haven’t used the heat shrinks yet but I have an automotive project that will be using them.
I use a cheap Brother PTH110 around my home shop and would say much the same thing about it wasting tape.
Out of the box it leaves massive borders on each side of the text. I adjusted it to the smallest setting, but I still usually trim the excess with scissors. You can also print multiple labels at once to minimize the gap between each – it’s kind of a hassle though.
Still, tape is reasonably cheap and my labelling-needs don’t seem as exotic as Stuart’s, so it gets the job done.
I’ve had good luck with the off brand tape cartridges sold through Amazon, which makes the cost quite a bit lower than using Brother branded ones.
I love my Brother label maker but never thought of 3rd party brands for tape. It uses the TZ tape. Any recommendations for the 3rd party tape that hasn’t given you problems like jamming or other problems?
I haven’t had trouble with even the cheapest multi packs of dymo or brother labels from amazon. It doesn’t seem to matter which fake “brand” you pick
The brand I have purchased is called “MarkDomain”. So far, no problems, and I have been using them for over a year.
I have a cheap PTH-210 Brother label maker and use these Kingdom tapes. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01511CWVM/
They work well enough and are so cheap I don’t mind the waste.
I have a cheap (at least it was when I purchased it 8 years ago, looks like the price has tripled since) DYMO handheld that I really love. I only need basic capabilities, but having nice crisp, and importantly consistent, labels on all my parts bins, plastic totes, etc has been invaluable.
I use off-brand label tape and have never had a problem there either.
Both of my really old Brady idpals stopped working a while a back. After looking around, I decided the Epson was the best for me. I mostly just label wires but want something can make a nice label if needed.
I have been waiting to catch a good deal on one before purchasing. The full 900 kit and a variety of tapes gets kind of spendy.
Labelling is important.
I somehow ended up with a BBP 31 label printer, which is a desktop beast, but I can print giant labels like you see on pipes, etc.
I got it cheap off eBay because reasons I can’t quite remember, but it’s really nice.
Label anything you have, especially if it goes behind a wall. The person who will be confused by your setups is most likely to be you. An example is my main stack pipe has a label detailing the last time the main line was cleaned, and the phone of the plumber who did it. (It may or may not have a relatively appropriate but not polite label expressing my feelings toward said pipe at the time of the Great Flood.)
I have the Epson LW300 for over 10 years. Use it primarily to label my son’s school supplies but also label tools, wires, cords, my toolbox drawers and it still works.
I have an ancient Dymo-Mite tapewriter that is still going strong, even after 3 generations of people have used it to make plastic, aluminum, and the occasional stainless steel labels.
Those old-school labelers are super cool.
In some environments, like the inside of an engine bay of construction equipment or anything near hydraulic pumps, only that type of label that will survive.
My old CAT excavator every has an embossed label on every hydraulic hose. No problem reading it 40 years later. And a CAT dealer can look up the number and build an exact OEM spec hose for you. And then unfortunately charge you an ungodly sum of money lol.
I remember seeing a very old one, I cannot recall the maker, which embossed metal strip roughly 1 inch wide. It was a massive cast iron thing which was too heavy for me as a teenager to move around. It was owned by the maintenance shop for a chemical plant, I assume they used it for labeling pipes and valves. They had a similar machine which cut stencils–turn a big wheel on top to select what letter or number you want, then pull a handle to cut the letter out.
I thought I was the only one who still used an old Tape writer. No idea how old it is, but still going strong and super simple to use.
Mine is the one with the little wheel you can spin to advance or retract the tape, a nice feature.
But, my needs have change.
I have organizer with hundreds
Thank you, *fixed!*
@allgreenlightsllc on IG has posted frequently about why he also chose Epson for his low voltage work.
I had a portable DYMO with wall wart and keyboard; and gave it to a friend. Stuck it out with a USB DYMO that uses the same tapes … but I flat out hate the waste of an inch or so tape before and after the actual printed text.
At least with the computer version I have a better visual and have a much faster way to reduce waste before hitting print.
But honestly … none of these companies can design their product to reduce wasted blank tape???
The epson I have does about 10mm of wasted tape between labels. Not perfect, but not bad.
I don’t understand this either. My cheap labeler also puts an inch of tape to either side of the text, or a little less if I manually adjust it.
I speculate that it’s because of where the tape cutter sits inside the machine and how the tape has to feed, but you’d assume it could be designed around that – have it print, cut and then retract the tape for example, or put the cutter right near the outside edge of the machine.
It’s not just the waste either. E.g. if I’m printing “19mm” to mark the size of something, the printing might only be 3/8″ wide – do I really need to cut an each of waste from each side?
I have 2 Brady BMP-21 Plus handhelds and like them a lot. Yeah, there is waste, the tape is expensive and the keyboard should be QWERTY, but I’m used to it. I’ve labeled all my tool box drawers, packouts and other tools that are stored high up and not used tgat often, light switches and panels and a variety of other things. Wouldn’t be without one, but I’d be hard pressed to switch, although these newer ones look nice…
We bought a Dymo xtl 500 about 5 years ago. It was great b/c it would print up to 2 inch labels, and the labels were available in several colors. Now it seems Dymo has discontinued everything but black on white labels. That defeats the reasons we bought it.
That should definitely come in handy on your CNC project, for wire labeling!
I’ve owned WAY too many labelers over the years… and currently use a combination of Brother and Dymo ones (the reason for the assortment is because I have gotten them very inexpensively… and it allows me to take advantage of best sale / 3rd party / specialized selection and pricing of the consumables). Makes it easy to inexpensively label just about anything with no regrets, really. Though the “waste” used for even the smallest label you may want to print does feel nearly criminal at times.
To be honest, didn’t know Epson was in the portable labeler market sector, but those do look awfully nice! That rewind feature especially…. You’ll have to do a detailed review at some point, and update if / when you’ve had a chance to play around with the software at all – I find this to be one of the biggest capability differentiators between brands.
I’ve had the LW-PX900 for about 4-5 years now. As an IT guy I typically print the self-laminating cable wraps and the die-cut labels.
I started having issues with some labels getting jammed in the printer, and after putting up with it for a while I reached out to Epson. I didn’t realize it when I bought the printer, but it came with a lifetime warranty. After a few emails with support, they shipped me a new replacement printer which has been working flawlessly. That right there justified the additional expense over the cheaper printers I used to have.
Wow… that’s a really great perk, actually! Might have to seriously consider adding one of these to my arsenal…
I also have the Epson LW-PX400 and use it with a variety of tapes, including the Self Laminating Overwrap. I prefer that over the shrink wrap tape because I use it on existing wires.
We use various models of Brother P-Touch label printers in our data center for labeling. They use the TZe series tapes, anywhere from 1/4″ to 1″. I usually print batches of labels to minimize waste and use scissors to cut them apart.
While I can’t comment on the Epson or Dymo printers I have quite a bit of experience with Brady and Brother label printers.
For average labeling on flat surfaces I prefer the Brother P-touch printers. The label material is reasonably priced and good quality. There are plenty of color options along with heat shrink and several specialty tapes. There a tons of aftermarket tape options with even more color options and very low prices. I prefer the high strength label tapes as they even stick well to lower cost plastic organizers like the Plano 3700 series. I have only recently picked up some of the aftermarket tapes, I have found the heat shrink materials in particular are a good deal. Three packs of 1.5 meter (4.9 ft) cartridges run $15-$20 or so, far less than any other heat shrink option I have seen.
The biggest complaint I see is the 1″ of waste that must be cut off of the beginning of each label. Everyone seems to think that this is intentional to waste tape and cause you to buy more. There is actually a good reason for this. If you look close at the tape cartridge and print head you will notice that there are actually there material spool in the cartridge. A colored double sides tape, a clear top layer, and a ribbon. The print head is between the colored double sided tape and the clear top layer and actually prints on the underside of the top layer. After the print head the two layers are pressed together with a pinch roller before they exit the printer. The advantage is that the printing is not on the top surface and cannot be rubbed off because it is effectively a laminated label. The disadvantage is that the distance between the print head and the pinch roller can only be made so small, this is what causes the 1″ of waste material at the start of printing.
On many of their printers you can pick when in the printing process you want to advance and cut the tape. The PT-1400 I have had for 15+ years can be set to only advance the tape just far enough to complete the printing but not fully laminate and advance to the cut position. This allows me to print a long continuous strip of labels without the 1″ waste between labels and hand cut them after I complete the batch. With a little planning ahead you can greatly minimize waste and with about 26 ft of tape in most of the cartridges the cost per label is pretty reasonable.
On the other side If money is no object or the application unusual or challenging Brady would be my near the top of my list. A good example is wrap around wire labels. When dealing with single wires and smaller diameter cables flexibility of the label material can be as important as adhesive strength. I have seen poor quality self laminating wire labels start unwrapping themselves in only a few days at room temperature. The time it takes to replace hundreds or more of those easily costs far more than the premium that Brady charges. Additional even for their lower cost ID pal and BMP21 printers the Nylon cloth material will reliably wrap and stay put even on smaller wire sizes far better than any plastic material from lower cost printers.
Beyond their lower cost handheld printers their industrial grade printers that can be had for quite reasonable prices on the used market. The venerable TLS-2200 was in production for almost 20 years and gets you a huge range of die cut labels in a wide variety of materials in addition to continuous tapes up to around 2″ wide.
You bought a Panduit (Panduit and Epson both make what appears to be the same machine)
I looked long and hard at the Epson, but the lack of 3rd party tapes it what killed it for me. I bought a Brother PTE500. Other than the wasted tape at the start of each print, its a great label maker.
Seems like a handy item to have. Do the labels peel off easy enough if you want to change them later? Thanks
I can test for that once it arrives.
With my older Brother printer that connected to PC, I mainly used black-on-white film tape that took effort to peel off. Even when attached to smooth plastic surfaces, the label tore and required scraping for full removal. I was quite pleased about this.
If you require easy removal, Epson has a PX refill that’s specifically designed for this (212RAPX).
Our shop is all Brother P-Touch. The cheaper models burn a lot more label material than the more expensive Edge models. Yeah, I know, a certain amount is needed for the lamination process, but the cheap printers burn several inches per label, as opposed to the Edge model burning an extra inch, or so.
I have a brother something that I bought years ago via office depot and I think it caps out at 1 inch tape. I’ve used it alot less than I should I suspect.
One thing I have issue with is some of them these tape peices fall off too easy or doesn’t like multiple materials in the garage. It seems things have come along way.
I will say I think I agree with what someone else above said – doing it again I think I would get a stationary machine that I can print to via phone, tablet, laptop. if the price is reasonable. and it appears to be so.
Why – well say in the garage – I have a plug – set machine on worktable – use pocket computer and home wifi/bluetooth and print. I do this now with our home printer – so might as well do the same with labels. Now I’m going to look more into label material options.
I have a Brady at work which can handle up to 1.5in. Love it but as others have said they are pricy. We also have a couple Dymo 4200 for everyday stuff which doesn’t need the Brady features.
For home I have a 4200 and you can get cheap refills on Amazon for it which work well enough.
Thank You, Stuart. You did my research for me. I wanted to get a label printer for sorting my cables and such, now I know I’m getting the Epson LP-PX900… That is a remarkably well priced monster printer.
I need one pretty badly, so it’s going pretty high on the wishlist. Used to use a little one connected to my PC many years ago. I miss my labels, and I need them bad.
Thanks Again! You Rock, Stuart!
I didn’t do very much research. I started looking at Dymo, and then an industrial supplier showed off the Epson series in a new products spot. I looked more into it, and then had to decide between Epson’s two handheld models.
I have the Dymo Rhino 4200 and haven’t been very happy with the print quality or the tape from the start. The functionality of the printer is very good, with the ability to print vertically and horizontally and scale text size, but the quality of the text — at least for my unit — is fairly low resolution with visible jaggies along the edge of letters. I’ve seen other labels coming out of other printers that had very crisp, almost laser printer quality resolution, while the labels coming out of unit are a disappointment in comparison.
The tape that came with it also has problems. The backing is split centered along the length of the tape, which makes it easy to remove for application, but it means the center of the tape has a slight embossing down the middle which the printer can’t seem to handle and the center of all the letters have gaps in the printing where it doesn’t make contact with the print head.
The adhesive is junk, too. On flat surfaces it goes ok, after re-applying a few times when it inevitably falls off, but I’ve printed cable wraps for networking applications and they just never stay on. Give them 24 hours and they’re all sticking out like little flags after having unfurled.
I’d love to hear if I’m the only one with this label maker and these problems. If the Epson gets a good review, I might have to consider it!
We’ve used a Rhino 5200 for years and generally had no problems with it other than the astonishing rate of battery depletion. I don’t know if these use the same cartridges or not but we’ve never noticed that ridge with the print. We did have some cartridges that turned out to be Very Old from our main supplier and the adhesive on those was quite poor, probably just as a result of age because I think their storage area has pretty good HVAC conditioning. They replaced those for us for free. Made me wonder if the adhesive is similar to most 2-sided PSA tapes where they have a rather finite shelf life before qualities begin to deteriorate substantially. The cost of the cartridges has really shot up over the last two years, ridiculously so.
Do you mean to tell me that in this day and age, there’s not a label printer that uses a cell phone/ app as the user interface? I dont see why a screen or keyboard is even needed.
Brother and Epson both make more than one model like that. I had to go look after reading this. The brother devices seem craft oriented and the Epson more industrial. I sort of wonder if the companies are related
Anyway I’m considering a brother devices that does 1 inch wide tape and supposedly speciality tapes I think wifey will use it too. Other Epson px400 looks promising
They do, and I can see the benefits, but I decided I’d rather have a standalone device.
If the Epson works out fantastically, I might get the PX400 for my electronics bench.
As I understand it, that model connects via Bluetooth or USB and can be operated with AA batteries or AC adapter.
It matches the DPI of the PX700, but has a slower printing speed.
A lot of units are dual interface, e.g. keyboard + USB/BT/WiFi, so you can get the best of both worlds.
It’s hard to beat the keyboard for quickie labels.
I love my Dymo Rhino 5200 and have used it for everything. Note to be very careful if the label backing does not retrieve into the cartage, it can cause a jam. Do not allow the next print job to continue until the jam is resolved & do not try to unscrew the bottom cover and try to fix it yourself. Cheaper to buy a new one than it is to have it serviced.
I have an older label maker that isn’t as sophisticated. I use it most often to put date of purchase tags on products. I often don’t remember when I bought something. I file all the paperwork, warranties etc and cant locate it without a date. It also allows me to determine if I got my money’s worth time wise out of specific items like USB’s.
I use the bluetooth model LW-C410PX. Seriously though, its great for labeling AC panel, containers, wiring, etc. Slow, but I had a Brady at my last job and that was for production of 100’s of cables a day (patch cords, end cables to devices, APs, switchgear ports, etc).
This epson you show is HUGE, but also, can it do the cat labels fast? Brady always was a premium for its label supplies but also specific to wraps. But why? A homeowner doesn’t need this. Should have gotten the LW-C410PX.
My Epson also does QR codes on the 1″ labels and lets me use my website database to inventory. Kinda neat to know when I installed a router, cable, etc…
I have the same one. As a network guy, these are indispensable.
For labeling my tool cabinet drawers, I like to apply the labels a magnet roll for ease of re-organizing the tools and associated labels.
If you can group your label printing, another approach would be to print on magnetic laser or ink jet paper, and then cut to size. (A quick search didn’t turn up an affordable pre-cut magnetic labels.)
For Epson models there is a magnetic tape. Only works for some models. Brother might have one too
Epson LabelWorks has a 20 percent off discount code until end of May 2023. https://labelworks.epson.com
I’ve been very happy with Brother, been using TZ/TZe tapes for over 25 years, and a similar time at work (along with an old Brady that can do shrink wrap labels). Also been using the Brother DK paper labels for a long time. Brother’s software can be a bit quirky, but it works OK, and I really like having the ability to print multiple labels with data merged from a CSV file – I wouldn’t buy a labeler without this capability.
I’ve tried the Kingdom TZe-style labels; Brother’s are a bit nicer, but the Kingdom is a great option for daily use, and a much better value.
Side note: also happy with Brother’s 11×17″ all in ones printers; our work MFC-J6910DW lasted over 12 years, replaced by a much snazzier MFC-J6955DW (which fit our needs much better than Epson or HP), and my MFC-J6925DW at home is still going strong.
However, Brother could learn a few things from Epson: I would love to have the auto-rewind option, Epson has nylon cloth tape, magnetic tape, and removable adhesive. Plus, it looks like Brother only goes up to 24mm (fine for me). On the other hand, Brother has stencil tape (masks an area or inks/other fluids for direct part marking).
Note that if you have a lot of cables to wire, you should consider other options. One cable group at work HQ uses Panduit wrap-around laser printed labels. At our location, our tech’s preference is for flat labels inserted into a cable tag carrier (e.g. from Phoenix contact) – he says it’s much faster than shrink wrap labels, etc.
Brother’s tapes go up to 1.5 inches. At least one of the printers that handles that material also can do half-cut labels, so that a series of labels is “chained” together by the back in paper, but each label is already cut.
If you need a cheap one niimbot is a great addition. No ink, bluetooth only, rechargable, different sizes, fonts. Lots of options. I use it for labeling when I know I will replace it a lot. Doesn’t really like to stick to plastic. They even have cable labels. I also like to use them with clear heat shrink. It’s not a heavy duty option.
This Epson one looks suspiciously like the Panduit MP300 which I have at work and LOVE. Wonder if the tape is cross compatible…
Epson labelers are the best. I have a Z5010PX, PX-400 and a PX-750. The tape is great, and 30’ in an Epson cartridge gives you 2x the printing of a typical 20’ Brother cartridge because they are so efficient with not wasting tape.
The Z5010 IMO is the winner – PC connected, prints up to 2”, 300DPI, and even half toning.
I have two complaints:
– If you aren’t careful to wind the ink ribbon tight, it can come out with the label and then the printer cuts it off. This is repairable, but annoying, especially if you’re at the beginning of a cartridge.
– Battery life on the Z5010 is poor because they have an overly aggressive low-voltage shutoff that claims the battery is dead when in reality it has about 80% charge left.
Other than those two things, Epson wins in all categories. WAY cheaper than Brady/Brother, great printing, and great support. I had a 25-year old KSun 2001 that I had been using when the screen faded out to be unreadable. Epson replaced my 25-year old printer with the new PX-750 for free.
I’ve been using Brother P-Touch equipment for years. I find that one of the great unsung/underused features is their PC-based software.
With that, I can use Excel for long series of very customized data sequencing, custom concatenation, every variety of data manipulation needed, then the Brother software connects to it as a database which then allows a fantastic variety of formatting for a long series of labels. I’ve confidently run large complicated projects and gotten high-quality, long term labeling done with just a few tools.
A great twist was to use 1″x1″ Brady labels on tractor feed sheets, but to print out long, uncut Brother labels on 1″ tape (also formatted to 1″x1″), then cut them to 8″ lengths, apply them to the 8″ wide Brady sheets (all in the same sequence from the Excel “database”), then individually cut them.
We ended up with stacks of organized, legible, clear, well-formatted labels. If any errors crept in, replacements were also easy to create.
Too often I watched peers & competitors pound out a zillion labels one at a time – they didn’t want to waste time learning a faster way. I was usually in & done in about 5-10% of their time, each time.