Review: Epson LW-600P

(July 3rd, 2014)

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Epson

Price: $99

The Good

  • Fast printing
    - Easy setup
    - Lots of label choices
    - Portable

The Bad

  • Proprietary label cartridges
    - Can't print via Bluetooth from a computer

Label makers are traditionally simple machines that perform a single task which people feel they can either live with or without. In many ways the LW-600P fits perfectly into this niche, however, the integration of Bluetooth connectivity and a powerful label creating design app allows the printer to stand out from its competition. Customers are not limited to creating simple text labels, but through the app can integrate graphics, icons, barcodes, and QR codes easily into any label. Epson's range of label cartridges also mean that customers are not limited to creating simple black and white labels.

Hardware

Dubbed as a "portable label printer," Epson's LW-600P offers the freedom to pop in six AA batteries and leave the wall tether behind. The printer is roughly the size of a large paperback novel, and can easily fit into any desk environment, just don't expect to be carrying it around in your pocket or anything. In terms of controls the actual printer has only two buttons, power and pair, while all other functions are controlled via the iLabel app. This makes setup a breeze, as all you have to do is turn the printer on, pair to to the appropriate device, and begin printing.

I should note that while operating in battery mode the printer will only stay on for 20 minutes before automatically shutting off. This really isn't a big deal as 20 minutes should be more than enough time to print out any labels you might need at that time. In my month of usage I have yet to actually run through the first set of batteries. At the time of writing I have easily printed out 80-100 different labels, and have yet to see the low battery indicator light up.

Printer cartridges are slotted into the printer via a side panel, and since each cartridge is individually fed, can be removed and replaced at will. Since each cartridge is a self-contained unit supplies have to be purchased directly from Epson. Thankfully, this is a simple process, with a supply store built directly into the iLabel mobile app. Refills run from $17 all the way up to $41 depending on the type of label purchased, of which there are many to choose from. Options include colored tapes, cable wraps, and ribbons, each with varying ink colors and tape sizes.

Software

At the heart of Epson's LW-600P lies the iLabel mobile app, a component that helps differentiate the printer from competitors. Within the software users can create custom labels, as well as choose from a collection of ready-made labels for a variety of different needs. Traditional word labels can be created quickly by just entering any text, while more involved labels with graphics take only a few additional taps. A range of font styles are included for users to choose between from, as well as a gallery of simple icons to use. Images can also be imported from the camera roll, while QR codes and barcodes can also be created and added from directly within the app.

Using the app is fairly straightforward, however, a couple of options do feel a little hidden. It took me a little while before I realized one of the menu areas could be swiped to reveal more options. This included the option to import images from the camera roll, which I had come to assume was simply not possible. To be fair, there are three dots at the bottom of the page that are an iOS-standard for indicating there is more content, I just did not notice these for a while.

Creating custom labels is a simple process, as the app provides a range of layouts to select from. After selecting a layout you simply need to tap on any component, text, bar code, or image, to begin personalizing the label to your needs. A full preview of the label is provided across the top of the screen, while all other necessary editing options are found directly below the preview.

Beyond the iLabel app, Epson has also created an open-source development platform that allows third-party developers to create their own iOS and Android label-printing apps. As of writing this platform is still mostly underused, with only two other apps offering LabelWorks integration. These include ScanLife, an app for creating unique QR codes, and stkr.it, which enables users to link a photo, video, or audio clip from their movie device to a QR code.

Conclusion

The Epson LW-600P is a fast and reliable label printer. Throw in the added ability to create custom labels and wirelessly send them to the printer from any mobile device and you have the beginnings of a stand-out product. There are certainly some improvements that could be made on the software side of things, but this is more in the way of simplifying the already full-featured app. With time and more user feedback I have no fears that Epson will get this just right. In fact, since I have started using the app a number of updates have solved a number of the early issues I faced. Whether you are a die-hard labeler who craves to properly catalog every item you own, or an average joe looking to get a little more organized, the LW-600P is a great choice for any labelling needs.



by Bradley McBurney


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