Top 10 Best Label Makers 2017

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

The use of labels to identify goods, particularly in a commercial setting, began in the 1880s. Those early labels were designed with the intention of drawing the eye of the consumer, in addition to naming the product in question. They proved to be invaluable in supply chain management, which continued to spawn innovations over the years.

In the 1930s, R. Stanton Avery (of Avery Dennison Corp. fame) manufactured the first self-adhesive labels — you know the kind. This paved the way for the advent of the personal embossing label maker in 1958, produced by Rudolph Hurwich and his company DYMO.

Most of us over the age of 30 recall those embossed plastic labels. They were stiff and brittle, with their block machine type seen here. They adorned my Thermos and lunchbox so neither would be confused with other kids’ stuff at school. My mother also used them differentiate between toys belonging to my brother and me.

Though DYMO remains a key player (as you will soon see), the label maker market is now a fairly diversified industry, with a surprising amount of technical advancement. They’ve long adapted to everyone having a computer (and even a smartphone), and though their primary usage remains supply chain management, anyone requiring a-a-glance organization can benefit from these machines.

Personally, I use a label maker for my household plants so I can keep track of their needs. My wife uses one for her planner and art supplies. Other uses, some courtesy of Reader’s Digest, include:

Though most of our lives are organized digitally, these top ten best label makers can help you keep track of anything in your physical space.


1. DYMO LetraTag LT-100H Plus Handheld Label Maker

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(DYMO)

The first of several DYMO products on this list, this utilitarian unit brings the expected functions of a normal label maker in a convenient battery-powered, portable device. There are a few bells and whistles in here, including two line printing, five different font sizes, and seven fonts. You can save up to nine labels for repeated use, and there’s a one-touch date stamp. This is the Plus version, which includes a magnetic hanger for when it isn’t in use. For $7 less, you can get the standard version. We like the utility of the hanger, because it’s still a little big to tuck in the junk drawer. If the A-Z layout of the keyboard bugs you, opt for the LT 100T, which sacrifices the handheld form factor.

Uses DYMO LetraTag Tape refills.

Price: $21.98

Buy the DYMO LetraTag LT-100H Plus Handheld Label Maker here.



Pros:

  • Two line printing, five font sizes, seven fonts
  • Auto power off
  • Battery or AC power (neither included)
  • Handheld and portable

Cons:

  • Keyboard in A-Z layout, rather than familiar QWERTY
  • Buttons somewhat difficult to push
  • No backlight on display
  • No shift key for single capital letters

Find more DYMO LetraTag LT-100H Plus Handheld Label Maker information and reviews here.



2. DYMO LabelManager 280 Rechargeable Hand-Held Label Maker

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(DYMO)

One thing that might not be abundantly clear in your label maker search is that the power situation is a little bit tricky. For one thing, they rarely include the AC power adapter if it’s optional and can use batteries. If you opt to use batteries, these machines somehow manage to chew through them at an alarming pace. Going for the LabelManager line from DYMO will address both at once. Starting at the 280 model (the one we’re featuring here) and up, these are connectable via included USB cable to any computer and rechargeable. The built-in battery pack means you’ll never need to scramble for batteries. When it’s connected to the computer, you can use any font stored on your machine, in any size that fits on the 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch tape sizes that work with this machine. You can also use a computer to print images and barcodes. Away from the computer, this is a standard label-making workhorse in the convenient handheld form factor. You can even get a protective case for it if you use it enough that you want to protect the machine.

The LabelManager line includes various upgrades, including dedicated computer-based label printers, more of which you’ll see later on our list.

Uses DYMO Standard D1 refills.

Price: $23.28

Buy the DYMO LabelManager 280 Rechargeable Hand-Held Label Maker here.



Pros:

  • USB rechargeable battery pack
  • Use built-in keyboard or connect to a computer for use with included software
  • Seven fonts, six font sizes, 220 symbols and clip art (can use computer’s fonts when connected)
  • Ability to print barcodes and up to 10 labels at once

Cons:

  • Labels may occasionally roll up inside device
  • Symbols are buried in menus
  • PC software not the best
  • Need to go up to the 420P model for a backlit screen

Find more DYMO LabelManager 280 Rechargeable Hand-Held Label Maker information and reviews here.



3. Brother P-touch PTD400AD Label Maker

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(Brother)

This is the upgraded version of the Brother PT-D210, which itself is the successor to the Brother D200 I have. The improvements include an expanded memory bank for saved labels, with 50 slots. You can print up to five lines of text on four different tape widths up to 3/4 of an inch. The large, angled keyboard is easy to type on, though this clearly isn’t meant as an extremely portable unit, in part because an AC adapter is required. (It is included, unlike so many others.) Choose from 14 fonts in seven sizes and over 600 symbols including barcodes. This uses the newer TZe tape, which is water, fade, and heat resistant. You can even get a molded plastic carrying case for safe transport. The major downside of any Brother label maker is the excessive spacing on either side of your printed area, which eats through tape. We’ve had ours for several years and haven’t spent a fortune on tape, so this might be a good option for those of you who only need the occasional label.

Uses Brother TZe refills.

Price: $46.57 (22 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Brother P-touch PTD400AD Label Maker here.



Pros:

  • Intuitive and easy to learn
  • Battery or AC power (adapter included)
  • Large, angled keyboard for easy typing
  • 14 fonts, seven font sizes, 99 frames, and 600 symbols including barcodes

Cons:

  • No screen backlight
  • Squeaks a little during printing
  • Brother label makers somewhat infamous for their excessive space on either side of the printed area
  • Somewhat pricey compared to the DYMO units

Find more Brother P-touch PTD400AD Label Maker information and reviews here.



4. Epson LabelWorks LW-400 Label Maker

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(Epson)

Long established in the printing game, Epson produces its share of label makers. This one competes directly with the ones above, in a (roughly) handled form factor with a variety of font choices. Unlike the ones above, however, this one does feature a backlit screen for use in low-light situations. There are 50 slots to save repeated-use labels, and though they’re a bit pricey, you can get a variety of specialty labels including things like glow-in-the-dark. Some reviewers note that you cannot scale the font size up to fill the largest labels available, you can print up to four lines of text, so those larger sizes are appropriate for multi-line printing. At the largest size, text will fill about half of the largest label, which is roughly 3/4 of an inch. As with the DYMO above, you can get the LabelWorks LW-300 for a little less if you can live with fewer memory slots and a larger size.

Uses Epson Standard Label tape refills.

Price: $34.02 (32 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Epson LabelWorks LW-400 Label Maker here.



Pros:

  • Backlit display
  • 50 label memory slots
  • Epson offers double-sided, glow-in-the-dark, and reflective tapes
  • 14 fonts, seven languages, 300+ symbols and barcodes on four lines of text

Cons:

  • Tape cartridges are somewhat pricey — included tape is only a sample length
  • Some excess margin waste (though less than a comparable Brother)
  • Print quality with different sizes may have a few issues
  • AC adaptor not included — get one here

Find more Epson LabelWorks LW-400 Label Maker information and reviews here.



5. Brother P-touch PTD450 PC Connectable Label Maker

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(Brother)

Combining the format of the D-400AD above with the computer-connected functionality of the DYMO, this Brother unit comes with the P-touch Editor Label Design software so you can expand the usefulness of this otherwise traditional labeler. One nice touch of the software’s interactivity with the device is that it automatically detects the color of label you’re using and updates the WYSIWYG editor so you can accurately preview before you print. While an AC adapter is included, you could also use AA batteries for better portability. To combat the usual Brother tape waste, you can reduce the margins in the settings and save yourself a little money.

Uses Brother TZe refills.

Price: $68.98 (14 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Brother P-touch PTD450 PC Connectable Label Maker here.



Pros:

  • Use built-in keyboard or connect to a computer for use with included software
  • Backlit display
  • Includes AC adapter and USB cable
  • Large, angled keyboard for easy typing

Cons:

  • Brother label makers somewhat infamous for their excessive space on either side of the printed area
  • Possibly steep learning curve
  • PC software not the best
  • Screen backlight could be brighter

Find more Brother P-touch PTD450 PC Connectable Label Maker information and reviews here.



6. DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo Thermal Label Printer

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(DYMO)

If you print a lot of labels or your labels have a lot of information on them, you might want to skip the somewhat slow input of a traditional label maker and opt instead for a tiny printer purpose-built to spit them out quickly. This DYMO option connects to any Mac or PC via the included USB cable and is capable of printing directly from Word, Excel, QuickBooks, and more. It prints 71 labels per minute, which is far faster than any of the options above, making them great for high-volume environments. If you’ve been printing address labels and postage on a traditional printer, save yourself from money and switch to one of these.

Uses DYMO LM label refills.

Price: $55.88

Buy the DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo Thermal Label Printer here.



Pros:

  • Prints 71 labels per minute
  • Uses the same thermal printing technology as normal label makers
  • Use the included labels to print USPS-approved stamps
  • Four line printing

Cons:

  • Only holds one size of label at a time — for two simultaneously, consider the LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo
  • Must be plugged into a computer
  • May not work with third-party labels
  • Label rolls occasionally feed incorrectly

Find more DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo Thermal Label Printer information and reviews here.



7. Brother QL-800 High-Speed Professional Label Printer

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(Brother)

Where DYMO goes, so goes Brother. Brother ups the ante (along with the price) a bit by increasing the printing speed by 22 labels per minute for a total of 93. When you use the DK-2251 label tape, you can print in both black and red for high contrast applications. Additionally, the label tape is continuous so you can print label up to three feet long. While there’s no wireless technology built-in (read on for those), you can use a USB-on-the-go cable to connect it to an Android device for mobile printing applications. Though you don’t need to use Brother’s software, it appears to make the initial connection easier.

Uses Brother DK label refills.

Price: $99.99

Buy the Brother QL-800 High-Speed Professional Label Printer here.


Pros:

  • Prints 93 labels per minute — 22 more than the DYMO above
  • With DK-2251 tape, you can print in black and red
  • Labels up to three feet long
  • Using an Android device and a USB-on-the-go cable, you can utilize the iPrint&Label app for mobile printing

Cons:

  • Pricey compared to DYMO
  • May not work with third-party labels
  • Possibly difficult to set up the first time
  • Without proper setup, may show an error about incompatible labels

Find more Brother QL-800 High-Speed Professional Label Printer information and reviews here.



8. DYMO MobileLabeler Label Maker with Bluetooth

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(DYMO)

As I alluded to above, there are now completely wireless options for computer-based label makers. Indeed, with this option, the computer is optional, too, as you can download the DYMO Connect app on both iOS and Android devices and utilize a Bluetooth connection to print. The app also offers a few other nice items like spell check and voice-to-text. Unlike the one above, this includes a built-in lithium-ion battery so you can take it with you once charged. Indicator lights on the top of the unit signal battery life and Bluetooth status. If you prefer the Brother version, you’re looking for the P-touch CUBE, which is quite a bit cheaper.

Uses DYMO D1 label refills.

Price: $80.25 (38 percent off MSRP)

Buy the DYMO MobileLabeler Label Maker with Bluetooth here.



Pros:

  • Bluetooth connection for convenient printing anywhere
  • Rechargeable — no batteries required
  • Print labels from 1/4 to one inch
  • Free DYMO Connect companion app

Cons:

  • Software could use some work
  • Some users complain of connection issues
  • Case opening may pop open on some units
  • Some tapes appear to get stuck from time to time

Find more DYMO MobileLabeler Label Maker with Bluetooth information and reviews here.



9. Brother P-touch PTP750W Wireless Label Maker

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(Brother)

While the P-touch CUBE is the more direct competitor to the MobileLabeler, this upgraded Brother unit foregoes the Bluetooth in favor of other wireless options. The first is the still-emergent NFC option, which is useful with mobile devices. Otherwise, it’s wifi connected, which means that it can be shared with multiple users. If neither of those work, a USB cable is included for direct, wired connection. Unlike the DYMO, there’s no built-in rechargeable capacity, as it uses standard AA batteries or the included AC adapter. Underneath all of that is a standard label maker capable of print widths up to one inch.

Uses Brother TZe refills.

Price: $103.12

Buy the Brother P-touch PTP750W Wireless Label Maker here.



Pros:

  • USB, wifi, and NFC connection capabilities
  • 30 mm printing per second
  • Battery or AC power (adapter included)
  • Automatic tape cutter with “half cutting” capability, which means you can print multiple labels on the same attached backing

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Included tape is only a sample length
  • Software could use some work
  • Falls asleep quickly (to save battery life), which disconnects it from wifi

Find more Brother P-touch PTP750W Wireless Label Maker information and reviews here.



10. Brady BMP21-PLUS Handheld Label Printer

best label maker, mobile label printer, computer label printer

(Brady)

As I mentioned in the intro, most label making needs are in the commercial and industrial settings. To that end, if you happen to find yourself needing labels at home and on the worksite, you might want to opt for something a little more substantial that won’t be easily damaged. This Brady unit features rubber bumpers and tough coatings and is both shock and vibration resistant. While none of the above label makers are exactly difficult to refill, this one is the easiest on the whole list with Brady’s drop-in cartridges, which accept tapes up to 3/4 of an inch. Font size is selectable between six and 40 point. This uses a classic battery or adapter scenario, though neither is included. The adapter can be found here, while Brady also produces an optional long life lithium-ion battery, as well, though the price is on the steep side. They also make a magnetic holster, which will attach to any metallic surface and keep your label maker safe while not in use. Alternatively, you can buy the Brady BMP21-PLUS-KIT1 Printer Kit, which includes the adapter, battery, and a case.

Uses Brady M21 label refills.

Price: $83.25 (16 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Brady BMP21-PLUS Handheld Label Printer here.



Pros:

  • Ruggedized exterior resists shock and vibration
  • Simple drop-in label refills
  • Strong adhesive for rough surfaces
  • Battery or AC power (neither included)

Cons:

  • Only 104 symbols, mostly aimed at technical uses
  • Keyboard in A-Z layout, rather than familiar QWERTY
  • Screen isn’t WYSIWYG
  • No shift key for single capital letters

Find more Brady BMP21-PLUS Handheld Label Printer information and reviews here.


For more shopping ideas, visit our Back to School category with posts from our whole team.


Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

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