Product Reviews

Product Reviews

In Brief

Easy to install and use, the Brother QL-500 PC Label Printer makes quick work of that most mundane of tasks, printing labels. It’s not a "can’t do without," but it sure ranks high on our "really, really useful" scale.



Brother International
Bridgewater, N.J.


The other competitors in this market are Avery, Dymo and Seiko Instruments.

Key Specs

4Weight: 2.4 lbs.

4Size: 5.7" w x 7.7" d x 6" h

4USB 1.1 connectivity

4Styles: Normal, Bold, Italic, Underline, Special (Shadow Light, Shadow, Horizontal, Outline, Surround, Frame Out, Invert)

4300 dpi direct thermal printing

4300 dpi direct thermal printing

4Warranty: One year


   Tech News From
   The New York Times

Office Tools

Brother QL-500 PC Label Printer


By Kate Newton

April 26, 2005

Labels are wonderful. I'll stick them on just about anything that isn't moving. File folders. Light switches. Even boxes of labels. The big problem with them for me is that they are usually unreadable, thanks to my ferociously bad handwriting. And, after all, what good is a label you can't read?

That's not a problem anymore, thanks to the QL-500 label printer from Brother. It connects to a USB port on your PC and will cheerfully spit out all kinds of sizes and colors of labels, printed in crisp black type. You can even print photos on your labels, perfect for making ID tags. And if you're into keeping track of inventory, the QL-500 can print bar codes. Believe it or not, I know people who still keep a typewriter stashed in a closet just for typing addresses on envelopes. Well, with the QL-500, the old Royal, Remington, or Smith Corona can at last be given a proper retirement.


The QL-500 Quick prints address and shipping labels, up to 2.4" wide, on easy-to-peel die-cut paper and continuous length film labels. It also prints file folder, CD/DVD and visitor badge labels.

I like the idea of a label printer because there are no wasted sheets to worry about. You know what a hassle it is to print one or two labels with a sheet-fed inkjet or laser printer. And then what do you with the partial sheet that's left over? More often than not, it gets jammed when you try to use the remaining labels.

One of the cool things about the QL-500 is its ability to print on rolls of continuous film, up to 3 feet long. That makes it an easy way to create for custom signage or banners, although the text prints only in black.

No ink needed. Other than the labels themselves, the QL-500 needs no supplies, a refreshing change from the outrage of paying $35 for a typical inkjet cartridge. The printer uses direct thermal printing technology, which, as its name suggests, “prints” by applying heat—not pigment—to the label. It’s similar to an inkjet printer, but instead of applying a pattern of ink dots, the QL-500 lays down an array of what we'll call “heat dots.” As an element on the print head is powered up, a thermal reaction causes the corresponding point on the label to turn black. You can prove this to yourself with a simple experiment: Heat up a label in your toaster oven and it will turn completely black.

Highlight your text, click and print directly from Microsoft Word, Excel, or Outlook applications. Or, you can use the included Brother label creation software to customize your labels to include logos and graphics. You can also use the software to generate labels from lists and databases.

Wide label selection. Brother hasn't scrimped when it comes to choosing the right labels for the QL-500. Standard address labels, large shipping labels (also good as ID tags), file folder labels, and others are available. In addition to white, some labels are available in yellow. You can even get a continuous 50-foot roll of clear label stock. But get ready to pay. These labels are expensive: A roll of 400 standard-size address labels will set you back $13.99. That's about three and-a-half cents per label. For comparison, a box containing 1,400 labels measuring 1-1/3" x 4" (100 sheets with 14 labels per sheet) from Staples sells for $19.99. That’s 1.425 cents per label, less than half the cost. But you can’t knock the great convenience that the QL-500 provides. So, much of what you save by not buying ink you give right back when you stock up on labels.

If label width is important to you, the QL-500 prints the widest label (2.4") you can get without moving up to an industrial printer. The competing Dymo LabelWriter 300 Turbo (read the Reference Guide review) prints to 2.3" and the Seiko Smart Label Printer 240, prints a maximum label width of 2".

The QL-500 comes with Brother’s P-touch Editor label design software. With it, you can print from just about any application through standard Windows printer drivers. Systems integrators have another tool at their disposal: Brother's bPAC software development kit can be used to enhance custom-developed applications and print data directly to pre-defined Brother label templates.

Gotta have it. The Brother QL-500 is one of those indispensable tools that help keep my office and my life organized.<

Yeas & Nays


4Easy installation

4Integrated software add-ins for Word, Excel, Outlook mean no retyping to generate labels

4Connectivity with
.xls, .csv, .txt and .mdb file types


4Labels are expensive

4No Macintosh support

4Black only, no color

Bar Codes!

The QL-500 prints several bar codes: Code39, Code 128, Codabar, UPC A/E, EAN 8/13/128, Interleaved 2 of 5, Postnet, Laser Bar Code, ISBN2, ISBN5, PDF 417 QR Code, Data Matrix.


In The Box

USB cable
Power adapter, cord
Quick Start Guide
Software/Driver CD
Roll of die-cut     address Labels


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