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[Review] Epson LabelWorks Pro 100

For small businesses, printing stickers can be a very expensive affair. You really only had three options : to outsource to a professional printer to get the job done, buy and use sticker labels for your existing printer, or buy a small stationery label printing machine to use. Going to the professionals provides the best results but at a cost; using your existing printer to print them up requires pricey consumables, and small label machines are limited to printing, well, small-sized labels at extremely low resolutions. But what if you really wanted to print better quality labels with a machine of your own? To fill that gap, digital imaging and printing solutions company Epson believes it has a solution in the Epson LabelWorks Pro 100.

Dimensions

The beauty of the Epson LabelWorks Pro 100 lies in the ability to print 100mm wide sticker labels, which is far wider than most other sticker label machines in the market. But size does matter - wide format printing means bigger stickers, which also means that it's now opened up to more uses such as bigger signs that can now be seen from afar. Label rolls also come in 50mm. But accommodating the large 100m rolls means that the machine is correspondingly larger, and at a footprint of 219‎ x 262 x 137 mm it's about the size of a toaster and much larger than those small hand-held label printers.

Printing and Resolution

To print your labels, the 2012 International Forum Design Award (iF) winning label printer comes bundled with its own label editing software that also contains over 70 pre-installed templates as well as a plethora of images and icons to create labels. Unlike many small label printers for the LabelWorks Pro 100 you actually insert your own images from your computer (you can also import images directly from the web), which is a huge plus. You're also not limited to a small number of fonts, which gives you a lot of design flexibility. This printer allows barcode printing, which is a boon for many businesses especially for those that operate in the sales and retail environments. And at 300 dpi the LabelWorks Pro 100 does turn up surprisingly good quality prints. You can still see the dots on the edges of your images, but in most cases even logos - at least those with a clean design - turn up well. But the label editing software itself isn't easy to use. It's actually quite clunky and those who aren't familiar with image editors may struggle to use it effectively. Design professionals may opt to design their labels in Photoshop and then transfer over to the editing software for final printing. But while you can opt of borderless and edge-to-edge printing, there's almost always wastage of media. Depending on how you design and frame your label designs, the LabelWorks Pro 10 tends to cut a small sliver of media in between each label it prints. It's really quite small, but that adds up when you're printing large quantities. But note that the LabelWorks Pro 100 is a monochrome printer, so it doesn't print full color. Epson offers 7 colors for the label rolls - black, white, yellow, blue, green, red and clear - as well as 5 colors - black, white, red, blue and green - for its text ribbons, which technically gives you a decent number of color combinations. But some color combinations don't work well, such as white on yellow or yellow on white. The Olefin-based labels are highly durable, and is resistant to exposure or even moisture (it was near waterproof during our tests), which helps extend its use to outdoor environments. The machine has windows so you know which color labels and text ribbon you have in your machine at any point of time, so you don't have to crack it open each time in order to remember which ones you have inside.

Conclusion

The LabelWorks Pro 100 is a nifty device for those who love to organize things, but is now not limited to printing small stickers for labeling files. Aside from the expected use in an office environment, the home jam maker can now also use it to make labels for labeling her jars (with her own pretty if monochrome designs). And the quality of print is good enough even for use in a retail environment, so small shops can employ it to print up simple large labels and barcode stickers for point-of-sale use.

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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