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Best Handheld Label Maker

There are hundreds of different uses for a label maker, and the great news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get one. Whether you want to print out professional looking labels for your filing cabinet or print out barcodes to use in your store, there’s a handheld label printer for you somewhere.

To help save you time, we’ve sorted through dozens of printers and selected the three which are the best of the best. We know you’re probably busy, so hopefully, this will allow you to quickly find one that you like and get back to your more important tasks.

Best Handheld Label Maker – Handpicked

Below, you’ll find a table with the name of each product we’ll be reviewing today, as well as a couple of important specifications. This isn’t a comprehensive guide to which is best, however – it’s just to give you a feel for each printer, so please don’t go making a decision just yet.

lLabel markerNumber of fontsMemory
DYMO LabelManager 1608Last label printed
Brother P-Touch PT-D2101430 labels
Epson LabelWorks LW-4001450 labels

Now that you’ve had a quick look at our top recommendations, let’s take a closer look at each of them. We’ll be discussing what’s good about the product, what could use a little work, and finally, who the label maker would be best suited to. Let’s begin with the DYMO LabelManager 160.

1

DYMO LabelManager 160 – Best Budget Label Maker

The least expensive handheld label printer on this list, the DYNO LabelManager 160 costs less than $10 and will suit the needs of a wide range of people thanks to its high level of versatility.

This model has a small black and silver plastic frame which measures at 2.3×4.5×8” and weighs just one pound, meaning it’s ultra-portable and can travel with you from place to place.

It uses a standard QWERTY keyboard for text entry and as a result offers single key access to the punctuation keys, rather than the multiple press option (like an old cell phone would have) chosen by some other labellers.  There are six font sizes to choose from, eight different fonts, 228 symbols and even clip art, which is unusual to see in such a low-cost model. It also offers you the ability to save the last label you printed in case you’d like to print it again.

This unit relies on six AAA batteries or an AC adaptor (not included, sadly) for power. If you plan to use this label printer frequently, we’d suggest buying the adaptor since it’ll save you money in the long run, whereas for casual users, batteries will probably be fine. There is an automatic shut-off to stop the batteries from draining too, which is great.

The labels that this product use are DYMO’s D1 labels. These come in 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2″ sizes, and in several different colours, so there’s bound to be one that suits your needs. A small roll of white 1/2” labels are included with the printer itself, but these will run out quickly, and so we’d recommend spending some money on additional labels up front. DYMO provide a free one year’s limited warranty too, so don’t worry – just because a product has a low cost doesn’t always mean it’s disposable.

Labels print out pretty quickly and have very little wasted space on either side, although there is a small amount left blank to increase legibility. Additional labels cost around $6 for a strip of just under two feet (although some colours and sizes may cost more), so running costs are reasonably low, which can only be a good thing.

 Overall, we think that this handheld label printer would be best suited for people who don’t require labels all the time – although it is capable of heavy-duty printing, it lacks the customisation options that more expensive models provide. For semi-frequent or casual use, though, you really can’t go wrong with the LabelManager 160.

PROS
  • Very inexpensive
  • Single key access to punctuation
  • Low running costs
CONS
  • Only offers a handful of font options
2

Brother P-Touch PT-D210 – Best Mid-Budget Label Maker

The Brother P-Touch PT-D210 label maker is a compact, feature heavy little printer that offers plenty of bang for your buck. It provides access to a host of useful features that less expensive products just can’t offer, such as the screen which allows you preview your label before it’s even printed.

Other benefits of this printer include an expanded range of fonts and symbols (14 and 600, respectively), as well as 95 frames which help to add a degree of personality to an otherwise standard label. The replacement labels come in a variety of colour and sizes, the largest of which being 1/2” tall.

You also have access to 27 templates which allow simple, pain-free printing of anything from file labels to gift tags, as well as patterned decorative labels. Come Christmas time, this will let you customise the label on every present to fit the person it’s intended for, rather than using standard holiday-themed store bought labels.

This printer uses Brother’s TZe tape labels which are made with laminated tape. This offers a degree of freedom that other printers can’t match, especially if you want to label kitchen products since the labels can withstand the low temperatures of a freezer as well as being microwave and dishwasher safe. You can fit up to two lines of text per label too, which allows you to add a subcategory if you wanted to, and as an added bonus, you can store up to 30 frequently used labels for easy access at a later time.

Like the DYMO LabelManager 160, this unit has the option of battery power (6x AAA) or through an AC adaptor, and once again, this isn’t included. Whilst we could overlook this for a model that cost less than $10, its absence is more noticeable with this printer since, for this price, we’d really have liked to see it included. It weighs a touch more, at 1.1 pounds, and is a little larger too, but not prohibitively so at 6.2×2.7×5.9”. The almost square shape of this design actually makes it easier to use both thumbs to type too, since the buttons aren’t so squashed together.

This label printer would be a good fit for someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. The water and temperature resistant labels make them perfect for labelling Tupperware or food bags and the two line printing functionality allows you to add not only the food that you’re storing but the date it was made too.

PROS
  • Highly resilient labels
  • Fewer accidental keypresses due to spaced out keyboard
  • Wide range of templates and text options
CONS
  • No AC adaptor included
3

Epson LabelWorks LW-400 – Best High-End Label Maker

Epson is a well-known brand the world over for their high-quality printers, so it comes as no surprise that they’ve earned a spot on this list. The LabelWorks LW-400 is a compact handheld label printer with a black plastic casing and backlit screen which allows you to print no matter how dull your room is.

This model measures at 6.7” tall, 4.3” wide and 2.2” thick, and weighs just 0.88 pounds. These dimensions mean that it sits comfortably in your hands and thanks to the well-spaced keys on the QWERTY keyboard, text entry is quick and easy.

As the price rises, so too does the number of included features – the LW-400 includes 14 different fonts, 10 text styles as well as over 300 symbols, 75 different frames and even the ability to print barcodes. Whilst the majority of people won’t use most of these added extras, it’s always good to have the option and for what it’s worth, some of the frames are very professional looking.

Epson claims that this label printer wastes up to 62% less space than models offered by other brands. This is a bold statement to make, but the labels produced by this product do have noticeably smaller margins on the left and right sides – about 0.5” as opposed to the 2” used by similar models.

The labels that this model uses are made by Epson and although they are slightly more expensive than the ones on offer by DYMO or Brother, they come in larger sizes, with an 8-meter roll costing under $20. If you consider just how long it’s going to take to print out 8 meters of labels, we’re sure you’ll agree that $20 is a pretty reasonable running cost.

 This printer allows for a maximum of four lines of text per label and is very quiet whilst printing, so you don’t have to worry about disturbing the people around you whilst you work. The onboard memory can store up to 50 labels, which gives you the option to save the ones you use most frequently for an even lower printing time.

We believe that the LabelWorks LW-400 would be best suited for professional use. It offers a level of customisation that is more than the average user will need and as replacement labels come in such large quantities, we find it unlikely that a casual user will be able to justify either the slightly higher running costs associated with this model. If you frequently find yourself printing labels during the course of your work, though, this really is all you could ask for and more.

PROS
  • Huge range of customisation options
  • Up to four lines of text per label
  • Less wasted space than similar models
CONS
  • Replacement labels come in high quantities

Best Handheld Label Maker - Buyer's Guide

Handheld label makers are pretty simple machines. When you get down to it, they all work in a similar way: text goes in, the label comes out. That said, there are a few different things you should consider before buying to make you get the best label printer for your specific needs, and we’ll cover these below.

Purpose

Ask yourself how you plan to use the label maker – are you just using it to print nametags or the occasional label for around the house? If so, a simple, inexpensive model might be all you need, whereas if you plan to use it frequently, you’ll want a product that can print quickly and cope with the high levels of work you plan to use it for.

In a similar vein, it’s important to check how the printer is powered. Most will allow you to use batteries, but these can be pretty expensive nowadays, and if you don’t own a set that are rechargeable, the costs are going to build up pretty quickly. Some models will support an AC adaptor, but they rarely come with the product itself, so you’ll have to buy it separately. Consider if you’ll be printing enough to justify the cost of the charger, otherwise, maybe batteries would be best.

What kind of conditions are your labels going to be used in? If they’re going on files which are tucked away in a cabinet, you don’t need anything fancy, just a standard adhesive label will do. However, if you want to use them in a kitchen then you’ll need a printer which can support laminated labels. These are generally waterproof, temperature proof labels capable of withstanding the rigours of being washed and dried.

Customisation

What level of customisation does the printer provide? Even basic label makers will offer you a few fonts to choose from and more expensive models only increase the amount of choice you have. Can it print across multiple lines or are you limited to just one line of text? Sometimes you might want a subheading and nobody really wants to print two labels to achieve this. Is it possible to change the size or style of text on one line from the text on another? Asking these questions now can prevent you from buying a model that might not be right for you.

Often, label makers will include template options which allow for easy creation of certain types of label (for example, these might include gift tags, name tags or food labels). Sometimes various label frames are offered too, and with the right one, your labels can gain a more professional appearance. It’s important to ask yourself whether you’re really going to use all these features, though – even though it’s cute, a law firm is unlikely to use a label with a polka dot border, after all.

Conclusion


This list has been short and sweet, but that doesn’t mean it was easy to choose a winner. Each label maker we’ve reviewed has its own strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately, we’ve decided that the Brother P-Touch PT-D210 deserves our top spot this time. It offers a pretty large amount of customisation and has labels which are resistant to anything you can throw at them, whilst not being prohibitively expensive for a casual user.

We hope that you’ve found this article helpful, and if so, we hope that you’ll remember us the next time you need product advice. As ever, our research has been thorough and in-depth, so you can rest assured that these label makers really are the best on the market. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and we hope to see you again soon.