Epson LabelWorks review: printing stickers is fun again

This is the Epson LabelWorks LW-400. While there are other LabelWorkers (I made this up), this one has to be the best. It’s a big, fat, six-battery label printer that works flawlessly and only costs US$50. It can’t be compared to any other gadget, and I can’t benchmark it. It just works. It has one function, to print labels, and it does this beautifully.

It prints labels 

This is what the older Label makers looked like:

And this is Epson’s LabelWorks:

Time moves on. The natural progression of the label maker is LabelWorks. It’s affordable as well, with each label cartridge costing in the region of US$15 (and each tape is 4-meters long).

It only prints labels

Mine is in white. You get a black LabelWorks as well, but white is where it’s at. In the box, there’s a charging cable, an extra black-and-yellow tape cartridge and the LabelWorks printer. Mine came with six fully-charged AA batteries, and I didn’t even need the manual to turn it on. I pushed the finger-friendly power button, typed in some words, pushed the green print button and my label was done.

The tiny LCD screen is adorable. It lets me cycle through 14 fonts, over 300 emoticons and add one of 75 frames. Labels can look as simple or as complex as you want them to be, and I made mine complex as hell. Smiley faces, frames, stars, whatever — I printed it all. Printing speed is slow though, and it can take up to a full minute or more for a more complex label. The maximum print width is 9mm, but the actual length of labels is 80-characters or less.

The eighties is back

The LabelWorks is huge, it’s a massive device and the exact opposite of the sleek gadgets I’m used to. But I love the chunky design, the green print and the over-sized label-cutting button. Even the rubbery keys evoke a feeling of whimsy, as if this is a special toy made only for fun.

But it’s a serious business machine. If I had to push it into a certain use, I’d say it would do best in the office and warehousing environment. The battery seems to last forever (more than a week of use) and there’s a window at the back that shows how much tape is left. There’s very little left to the imagination and LabelWorks operates until it’s got nothing left to give. It’s a single purpose device, therefore the crazy battery life should come as no surprise.

Negatives, it has some. It prints slowly, needs six (rechargeable) batteries and is very bulky. On the positive side, it feels good and chunky, like a brand-new device made with eighties love. Also, the tape never seems to get stuck in the machine, always looks clear and it’s even easy to unstick the film from the back of the tape. There’s a split down the middle of every label, so peeling off the protective paper is a breeze.

Verdict: If you need a label maker and you don’t have a fortune to spend, Epson’s LableWorks is the best device on offer.

Rating: 7/10

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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