Tag: label writer

Product Review–Brother PT-E550WVP handheld label writer

I am reviewing the Brother PT-E550WVP TZe-compliant handheld label writer which is pitched at electricians, AV and IT technicians and similar folk who work with different equipment.  This ranges from those who work out of the back of their trucks or vans to the maintenance and IT departments of different workplaces.

One feature that it has beyond the typical label writer is that it can work with other computer equipment via an existing Wi-Fi network segment or its own Wi-FI network. This allows for you to order labels on your smartphone or tablet and have it turn them out.

Brother PT-E550WVP handheld label writer

Price: AUD$329 Recommended Retail Price

The unit itself

Brother PT-E550WVP label writer with back removed

Where to install the battery and the label tape

The Brother PT-E550WVP label writer is a large handheld device which has a heavy-duty build and an orange-and-grey housing. It is equipped with a large dot-matrix backlit LCD display that lights up when you are actually using the device, along with a rubberised keyboard.

To load the batteries or label tapes in to this label writer, you have to remove the back cover from this unit by pressing a latch on the top edge. Here. you have clearly-identified compartments at each end of the device for the batteries of the tape.

It has what some people may describe as a “three-way” power supply arrangement where you can run it on mains power courtesy of a supplied AC adaptor/charger, a supplied rechargeable lithium-ion battery or 6 AA alkaline batteries of the Duracell kind. This means that even if you run out of power from the rechargeable battery while on the road, you can go to the convenience store and buy some batteries to complete that labelling project. Here, charging the unit’s lithium-ion battery pack is simple as plugging the unit in to mains power using the supplied AC adaptor.


Brother PT-E550WVP label writer keyboard

Rubberised keyboard with accent selector

The Brother PT-E550WVP label writer is based on Brother’s TZe label-cassette platform which means that it can work with all of Brother’s TZe label products which suit different purposes. This includes their HSe series of heat-shrink label tubes that you use to attach to cables.

This label writer has quick access to label templates that are optimised for labelling cables, patch-bays, outlets and the like which can make it an electrician’s or maintenance engineer’s best friend.

As for on-device data entry, the large display makes it easy to see what you are typing in on the unit’s QWERTY-layout rubber-membrane keyboard. The disadvantage with this keyboard is that all the keys are “bunched-up” together rather than spaced out like a calculator’s keyboard. This can be awkward for some users, but you can at least feel which keys are which because each key on the main keyboard has a hemispheric “pimple” shape.

The label writer doesn’t feel extra top-heavy while you are entering text and it still has that comfortable hand-held feel that is expected of this class of device.

You have a dedicated accent key which can come in handy for entering the accents common in most of the Latin languages. This may also appeal to those of you who are learning foreign languages and use labels attached to items as a tool to reinforce your vocabulary. Here, you press the letter you want accented then press the accent key repeatedly until the desired accent appears. In the case of the “ß” used in the traditional German orthography, you type the S letter then press the accent key until the “ß” letter shows up.

As for the output quality, the labels come out of this machine very crisp and clear as has been expected for Brother’s thermal labellers.

You use the Menu and arrow keys to select the advanced functions like the network connectivity, cutting behaviour amongst other things. This leads me to the network connectivity which is one of its key features.


The Brother PT-E550WVP label writer can work as a label printer with a regular computer or a mobile device and can connect to the latter via Wi-Fi. This can be handy if you are wanting to run a batch of labels from your smartphone or tablet such as whenever you are out of the right label tape or you have left the label writer behind. Similarly, you can use this link to transfer databases or label templates created using the P-Touch software.

Brother PT-E550WVP label writer network operation menu screenshot

The user can select between direct Wi-Fi or a Wi-Fi network

This model has answered a problem that was exhibited by Brother’s PT-P750W Wi-Fi label printer where it would attempt to connect to the last Wi-Fi wireless network it used before working as a standalone Wi-Fi wireless device. Here, the user has to select whether to run the label writer as its own Wi-Fi network or have it join an existing Wi-Fi network by using the WLAN menu option on PT-E550WVP’s menu and selecting “Direct” for working as its own network and “Infrastructure” for working with an existing Wi-Fi network.

As for connecting via an existing Wi-Fi wireless network, you can connect this unit to Wi-Fi network segments that use WPS or classic WEP or WPA-Personal password setup methods. This typifies most Wi-Fi home or small-business networks but would preclude business networks that implement user-specific or device-specific authentication along with public hotspots that implement Web-based authentication.

Comments from other people

Brother PT-E550WVP label writerI showed the Brother PT-E550WVP label writer to a friend of mine who works as a maintenance electrician and let him have a play around with this device. He was impressed with this unit’s rugged design and ease of use. This was so much that he would suggest to his workplace to consider buying these labellers for the team he works with.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

A feature that may be considered nice to have for the PT-E550WP would be to allow the label writer’s keyboard to serve as an external keyboard for a tablet or smartphone. Similarly, this labeller could benefit from an optional car adaptor so it can be charged up from the vehicle’s cigar-lighter socket when you are driving between jobs or want to conserve battery power when you work out of the back of your van.

Similarly, Brother can improve on the display’s contrast to augment its useability. Here, they could implement display technologies like EL-backlit LCD displays or monochrome OLED displays which have a similar contrast to the vacuum-fluorescent displays but don’t consume as much power as those displays.

A function that could come in handy for people who use this label writer as part of IT support would be to print out the SSID and, perhaps, the password of the current network. This may be useful for preparing a network-configuration card to give to the network’s owner or attach the SSID to the router or access point they have configured.

Conclusion – Is it a tool or a toy?

The Brother PT-E550WVP handheld label writer earns its keep for tradesmen and maintenance departments who value a highly-durable label writer and want to have the ability to link it with their portable computing equipment whether now or in the future. Personally, I would consider this label writer to be a viable tool for these kind of users rather than a toy.

Product Review–Brother P-Touch PT-D200 Label Writer


I am reviewing the Brother P-Touch PT-D200 Label Writer which is the newer “little brother” to the PT-2730 label writer that I previously reviewed. This one doesn’t have the computer connectivity that the PT-2730 has but can run on 3 AAA Duracell batteries. There is the opportunity to purchase an optional AC adaptor so you can run this unit off the mains although it didn’t come with one out of the box.

Brother P-Touch PT-D200 label writer

Price: AUD$89.00

The unit itself

Brother P-Touch PT-D200 label writer cartridge bay

Cartridge bay with TZe labelling tape

The Brother PT-D200 uses the new TZe labelling tapes which can also be used on the PT-2730 label writer. This can be handy if you want to maintain different label writers with different functionality levels but buy the same consumables.

It has a large LCD display and a rubber-feel QWERTY keyboard for text entry. You even have the ACCENT key so you can create those “aide-memoire” labels that you attach to items for people learning a foreign language.

But the display could be improved upon in contrast; as well as a WYSIWYG type of user interface for creating the labels. As far as the label-making procedure is concerned, it is the same, where you enter the text, then press “Print” to make the labels.

The label cartridges are loaded underneath the machine and use the simple snap-in installation. At least it isn’t a fiddly process to install the cartridges in to the machine

Being a cheaper model, the Brother PT-D200 doesn’t connect to host computers like the PT-2730 does. This may not work well if you want to do anything beyond basic labelling.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Brother P-Touch PT-D200 label writerAs I have said before, I would improve the Brother PT-D200 display and the display on other Brother P-Touch label writers by implementing a high-contrast appearance and display font. In some ways, this could also be achieved through the use of the monochrome OEL display which has the same contrast level as the fluorescent display commonly used with consumer-electronics equipment.

Another point of improvement is that Brother could provide for in-situ charging of batteries when connected to the optional AC adaptor. It is infact a practice that manufacturers like Canon and Sharp had done with some of their calculators which were capable of being powered from an external AC adaptor. This avoids the need to always remove the rechargeable batteries every time you need to charge them.


I would recommend the Brother P-Touch PT-D200 label writer as a desktop-style entry-level labeller for those of us wanting to dabble with electronic label generation at home or in our small business.

It would come in handy for people in charge of businesses or organisations who are using the Brother PT-2730 as the main label writer but want to have something that works as a battery-powered portable secondary unit.

Product Review–Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer


I am reviewing the Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer which can turn out printed labels for attaching to various items. Unlike most labellers, it is one of those units that can be connected with a computer so you can create customised designs or have your office software prepare labels for printing out.

Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer


Recommended Retail Price: $129

The unit itself


The Brother P-Touch can be operated on AC current using a supplied transformer or can be used on the road once four AA batteries are installed in it. Personally, I would like it to support the use of rechargeable batteries with in-situ charging and / or receive its power while tethered to a host computer via its USB port.

Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer tape compartment

Tape compartment where the label tape goes

The PT-2730 uses Brother’s “TZ” label tape cartridges which are dropped in to the unit in a similar manner to how you would put a tape cassette in to a small cassette recorder. The only main point of confusion is that there is a white lever which can confuse new users when they load the cartridge in the machine.


Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer TZ label cartridge

TZ label cartridges as used by this labeller

The Brother P-Touch label writer uses a thermal-transfer method for writing on the labels. With some cartridges, it may involve the use of two tapes in a similar manner to the typical low-end plain-paper fax machine and in others, it would mark like the typical receipt printer.

When the unit turns out the labels, it automatically cuts labels to the correct size.

As well, there is a large choice of Brother “TZ series” label tapes available for the user to buy, with laminated tape in different colours or clear tape. There is even the ability to buy fluorescent tape, tamper-evident security tape or iron-on fabric tape for needs that call for these materials.

Standalone operation

A person can use the Brother P-Touch labeller to turn out a label without any special training, just by powering on the unit, typing up the characters on the keyboard and pressing PRINT.

If you need to enter accents that are required for foreign languages, you have to enter the letler that needs the digraph, press the ACCENT key repeatedly until desired character appears, then press OK. Some characters peculiar to certain languages like German or the Nordic countries may require you to enter a “close letter” then press ACCENT until you find the character. An example of this is using S for ß or A for æ.  This may make it easier to create vocabulary labels that you attach to objects in order to help with learning foreign languages.

If you needed to enter currency symbols like the euro (€) or pound (£) symbol, you would have to use the SYMBOLS option and “pick and choose” the symbols to use them.

There is the ability to determine the text typeface, appearance and size using the TEXT button. As well, you can determine the label layout using the “LABEL” button. The Barcodes option supports the creation of most of the single-dimensional barcodes that are in common use nowadays. You can also print the current time and date to a label once the internal clock is set, which can be of use in date-stamping perishable foods that you have added to your fridge.


Once the Brother PT-2730 is connected to your computer, it works with Brother software that is supplied on a CD that comes with the unit. This allows you to upload label designs or can work as a printer for the host computer. This kind of arrangement is very similar to what is needed for the computer-aided-craft-design software that Brother embroidery sewing machines come with.

Brother P-Touch PT2730 Side View with AC socket and USB port

Side view with AC socket and USB port

I was expecting to use some inept software for the machine but Brother had offered more, such as an easy-to-use program. You have access to the full TrueType font library on your computer but this is only for creating the designs that you will upload to your labeller.

What I would like to see is for Brother to license the device for TrueType and other standard font families so that you can upload a TrueType typeface to the unit for creating labels on that typeface without the need to use the computer.

The Brother P-Touch software can support “merged labelling” with data that is brought in from resources held on your computer system. At the moment, it handles data held in Word, Excel or Outlook as well as the usual comma-separated / tab-separated text file suspects. It can connect to Microsoft SQL Server database resources but I would like to se it work with ODBC database resources which encompass MySQL and desktop databases like MS Access. There is also add-in programs that run with MS Word, Excel and Outlook for making labels from these programs.

Limitations and Points of improvement

Power Supply

I would like to see some improvements regarding the P-Touch PT-2730’s power supply. One would be that the labeller can work with rechargeable batteries and charge those batteries in the unit while connected to the AC supply. This will allow for intense labelling projects where you might think you will “blow through” many packs of Duracells to complete the projects.

As well, it could be feasible for the unit to be powered through the USB port while it is tethered to a computer. This may then obviate the need for carrying the AC adaptor when you use the Brother labeller with a laptop. This ability would be more important for those homes and workplaces that have moved to the laptop-based New Computing Environment.

Usability and Software Design

An improvement that I would like to see for Brother P-Touch label writers is a WYSIWYG view during label creation. Here, the unit provides a coarse multi-line view of the label when you write in the text but it could work better.

The software could be improved with direct import of data from ODBC-compliant databases; and / or integration with the desktop databases like MS Access or FileMaker Pro. As well, there could be an “in-unit” or software-based option to create calibrated “measurement tapes” using the labeller. This may please user groups like photography, police / security and health-related disciplines who want to make up a measurement chart like a height chart.

The USB interface could be exploited further with clock synchronisation to the host computer. This could also include support for “UTC+timezone-offset” timekeeping and improved handling of daylight-saving time.

There could also be a further option where the keyboard could become a USB Human-Interface-Device keyboard. Here, the QWERTY keyboard could be set to work as a standard USB keyboard for text entry on other devices like LED signs, or network AV equipment like the Sony BDP-S380 or Sony PlayStation 3. The function could then be enabled as a menu option in the Setup menu.


The Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer would be considered a highly-capable labeller that can be used in a standalone fashion or alongside a computer and I would recommend it for most organisations.