A great small-batch label printer that , for a limited time, comes with free label stock.
The QL-570 is a small yet flexible label printer. Measuring 14 x 20 x 14cm, it takes up less desk space than a mouse pad, and its silver and grey finish is at home among much contemporary desktop equipment.
Setup and installation is typically straightforward, with a step-by-step guide in the form of a booklet. A single CD contains software and drivers for Windows 2000, XP and Vista, and Mac OS X 10.3.9 and later.
Like earlier devices of this kind that we’ve used, the QL-570 takes rolls of special labels. Each roll comes on a plastic carrier that snaps into place under the top cover, which - along with the self-aligning mechanism - makes it easy to change labels.
The number of labels per roll depends largely on their size. The printer comes with 100 29 x 90mm address labels and an 8m roll of 62mm wide continuous tape, both in white paper. While they would normally be purchased separately, Brother also provided 62 x 100mm white paper address labels (300 to a roll), white film 58mm diameter CD/DVD labels (100 to a roll), and a 62mm x 15.24m roll of continuous opaque yellow film (handy for safety warnings). Various other sizes are available, including 62mm continuous clear film, which we suspect would be very useful if kept on hand for labelling coloured envelopes or adding names to pre-printed badges and so on.
Until 31 July 2008, purchasers may receive a free four-roll starter pack by redemption, but for some reason those who buy from Dick Smith or Tandy are excluded.
The labels themselves are durable. The film is naturally more robust than paper, and seems even less vulnerable to marking when friction activates the thermal process.
There’s no impediment to using the right medium for the job, as the rolls can be swapped in and out with little or no wastage. That even applies to the continuous rolls, as the QL-570 has a built-in cutter that can be activated by the driver between each label or at the end of a batch, or by a button on the front panel.
The QL-570 can be used from applications like any other printer: select it from the available devices, pick the label size you’re using, then adjust the paper size, orientations and margins appropriately. But for many purposes, it’s simpler to use the bundled P-Touch Editor. Combined with the supplied add-ins for Word, Excel and Outlook, it removes a lot of the fiddling around. Snap mode can be particularly useful, as it lets you drag and drop information into a small floating window for transfer to a label, while Express and Professional modes provide increasing flexibility and control over the design.
While the P-Touch Editor starts up, it senses the label type loaded in the printer and presents the appropriate template, but it doesn’t seem to notice if you change the roll while using the software.
Nominal print speed is 68 labels per minute for four lines on 29 x 90mm address labels. We printed 10 such labels in 12 seconds, cutting only at the end of the job. That’s better than 50 labels per minute when you take out cutting time and quite frankly seems fast enough for the relatively small batches typically produced on such devices.
The default 300 x 300dpi setting is to our eyes adequate for most uses, especially address labels. Switching to 300 x 600dpi does improve text output slightly, though it is barely noticeable unless you look very closely. If graphical elements - especially photos - are included, the change of resolution makes a bigger difference.
When printing text, we did find that certain combinations of font and size resulted in particular characters taking on additional weight - that is, they appeared to be bold or semibold in comparison with the surroundng characters. You’d soon learn which, if any of your favoured fonts are affected, and at which sizes.
One possible issue is that regardless of how much continuous tape is left in the printer, the maximum length of a label is 1m. At the other extreme, the minimum length is 12.7mm.
Substantial address label runs are probably best done on a laser or inkjet printer, but if you often need to produce small numbers of labels - even one at a time - the QL-570 is a convenient and flexible way of doing the job.