I am reviewing the Brother QL-570 thermal label printer which works with a host computer as a simple label-printing system but can suit other tape-printing application.
This label printer is also available as part of a visitor-management package which costs AUD$499 that has the software, a brace of thermal-paper rolls for the printer as well as 12 plastic badges and accompanying clips.The software, which I will be reviewing next, is also available as an add-on package for AUD$399.
The unit itself
The Brother QL-570 is a very compact label that is as wide as the typical receipt printer or two desktop sticky-tape dispensers. So it wouldn’t take up much room on one’s desk and could even perch on the top ledge of a reception desk without getting in the way of the view of the receptionist.
The label printer connects directly to the host computer using a standard USB cable. It doesn’t support any RS232C connectivity which would hamper its useability as a receipt printer for most POS systems and hotspot-management systems that use this connection. Brother offers a network-connectable variant of this unit as the QL-580N which connects to an existing Ethernet network segment.
There is one thing that I am pleased about this unit in the way it is powered. It is a self-powered device rather than being powered from the host computer’s USB cable. But the way it is connected to AC power is refreshingly different for this class of device. Here, the power supply is built in to the unit and it is connected to the power outlet using a standard AC cord of the kind you use to connect a boom-box to the mains. Here, you benefit from an easily-replaceable power cord and you don’t have to worry about losing powerboard space to awkwardly-sized “wall-wart” power supplies.
The Brother QL-570 prints on to the labels or tape using direct-thermal printing, like the typical receipt printer or the older fax machine. Here, these units used a special thermal paper that has its top surface burnt off whenever the paper needs to be marked and this printing technique is known for printouts that fade over time.
This is although Brother uses a special layer to protect the labels from fading. As well, this unit uses a built-in guillotine to cut the paper labels or tape. It can work with Brother-supplied adhesive or non-adhesive label-tape reels that are up to 90mm wide.
You install a tape reel by dropping it in to the tape well, making sure that a square black clip is outside the tape rest on the right. Then you have to thread the tape through a slot so it comes out the label printer’s front. You have to make sure the cover is closed before you use the printer. This includes using the form-feed or paper-cut buttons to feed the tape through properly.
Brother furnishes the same P-Touch Editor label-creation software as they have provided for their PT-2730 label writer to create custom labels. This also supports the creation of merged labels and work with supplied plug-in modules for Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. There is also a P-Touch address book to “get you going” with printed labels for your envelopes.
Programmers and software developers have access to a software-development kit available for download from Brother’s Website. This works tightly with Microsoft’s Visual Basic, Visual C and Access development environments.
Points of improvement
As far as connectivity goes, a label printer like the Brother QL-570 could be designed for USB bus-powered operation, thus avoiding the need for extra cables to run to the printer as well as working properly with laptop computers. On the other hand, this label printer could benefit from an integrated self-powered USB hub thus creating more USB ports to connect devices to the host computer.
I would also like to see this printer support any and all USB device classes that relate to label or receipt printing for point-of-sale or gaming applications. This could also allow the printer to work with devices like point-of-sale terminals, TV set-top boxes, gaming / amusement systems and the like as a label or receipt / voucher printer.
It could also be able to work with the typical thermal-paper rolls used for receipt printing, which would be commonly available around most businesses. This would benefit the QL-570 being used in visitor-management or similar applications where you use “one-shot” badges or tickets.
As I have said before, the Brother P-Touch label-creation software could benefit from a measuring-tape creation program so one can create measuring tapes.