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Handheld Label Making at Its Simplest

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Epson LW-400 Label Maker

Epson LW-400 Label Maker

Photo courtesy Epson
The very portable Epson LabelWorks LW-400 Label Maker is very handy and has a lot of great options for such a little machine. It has a good variety of fonts, font sizes, symbols, and frames; and it doesn't waste much costly tape when printing out. It also is compatible with a lot of different kinds of labels, from those that can be ironed on to clothing to those that glow in the dark. Sometimes it was a bit of a challenge to figure out how to choose from its many options, which led to some frustration until I was used to using it. Overall a great little label maker that will do almost everything you need it to do.

Features

The Epson LW-400 Label Maker offers a lot of features for such a small label maker. You can choose from more than a dozen font types, 89 frames, and hundreds of symbols (and it supports seven languages), so there's virtually no limit to the kinds of labels you can make. It even prints barcodes. To me, even better is that this label maker is compatible with many different sizes and kinds of tapes, including standard black on white (12 or 18 mm wide), iron-on labels for clothing, and strong adhesive labels. It's fairly easy to get the labels to print vertically or in other ways that will make labeling files easier. The label maker has a full-sized keyboard with a host of function keys; a single, large button on the side clips the label off when it's finished printing.

Pros and Cons

One of the biggest pros is the printer's small size. It can run off six AA batteries or an optional AC cord, and the whole printer fits easily into the palm of your hand. It's fast and very quiet as well. As mentioned above, the label maker works with many kinds of tapes, so it could be of use to homemakers who want to label files, moms and dads who want to label their kids' clothes, and small businesses that want to print barcodes. The keyboard has soft-touch keys that are easy and comfortable to use, and the backlit display is fairly easy to see. Finally, the label maker is only $50 or so, making it an affordable tool.

The label maker's small size has a few drawbacks. There are a dozen function keys and multipurpose buttons that are used to switch fonts, font sizes, frames, and so on. Going through these to find the ones you need is not a greatly intuitive process, since the keys are somewhat obscurely labeled. You need to take multiple steps to change font sizes, for example, and a WYSIWYG display would really help in ensuring that you've chosen the correct combination of sizes and styles--instead, you have to wait for the label to come out to see if you've made any errors. Since the label maker gives conservative margins, at least you don't have to waste much tape while figuring out what you're doing. And ultimately, the fonts didn't print as crisply as they did on some other printers, such as the pricier Brother PT-2430 Label Maker. (Read lots more reviews of label makers.)

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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