small Office tools
Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo
By Joel Shore
you hiding a secret too horrible to mention? You know which one
typewriter you have stashed away just for addressing envelopes and
fear not, your small office can finally address envelopes, verify
addresses, and even print postage, all at the same time. At last, you can turn
that old typewriter into something really useful, like a boat anchor. Dymo—the
company that gave us those handheld
guns for making embossed plastic labels decades ago—is now shipping
its newest marvel, the LabelWriter 330 Turbo.
Measuring about 7 inches deep and 5 inches high, the LabelWriter 330 Turbo is
blazingly fast: it prints most labels in just 2
seconds at a resolution of 300 dots per inch. It can handle more than 40 standard label sizes up to 2.3"
(56 mm) wide, including address, Internet postage, shipping, file
folder, diskette, VHS video casette, name badge, audio cassette, Zip disk, and more.
No ink needed. Other than the labels themselves, the
LabelWriter 330 Turbo 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,
applying heat—not pigment—to the label. It’s similar to an inkjet printer, but
instead of applying a pattern of ink dots, the Dymo lays down an array
of “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
a label in your toaster oven and it will turn completely black.
Connection is a breeze. The LabelWriter 330 Turbo (and its somewhat slower
non-turbo sibling) contain a USB and a serial port, so you can choose
which method suits your PC or Macintosh installation best. I set up my printer using
the USB port. Windows XP immediately recognized the presence of a new
device, identified it, and then installed the appropriate driver. It
took less than a minute. And since it’s really just another printer,
anybody on my wireless Windows network can print to it, as long as my PC is running.
The unit is compatible with Windows 98, 2000, XP, Me and Mac OS 8.6, 9
and 10 (in classic mode).
To put the LabelWriter though its paces, I installed the Dymo Label
Software and then proceeded to print a variety of labels, choosing
from a boatload layout templates. I labeled some file folders,
categorized my son’s VHS videotapes tapes from his college basketball
career, and made some labels that I’ll use in my basement workshop.
Just for the fun of it, I printed some address labels containing a
serial number that automatically incremented with each label. It was
all pretty easy and a whole lot more fun than stuffing label sheets
into my inkjet printer. Dymo even offers heavyweight business-card
stock, great for printing doctor’s office appointment reminder cards.
Use the software. The software that comes with the LabelWriter isn’t
necessary to make the printer work, but you’ll want to install it
anyway. Dymo’s aptly named Label Software program allows you to design
labels, add auto-incrementing serial numbers, create an enormous
variety of bar codes including PostNet, verify addresses and add ZIP+4
codes, and more. What’s more, the software works with Microsoft Word
and Outlook, ACT!, GoldMine, Corex CardScan, and your Palm Pilot database, allowing
you to use your pre-existing address lists.
One thing I really like is how easy it is to print just one label.
That’s nearly impossible to do with laser or inkjet sheet-fed labels. And
with those full sheets, pulling off one or two labels and then refeeding the sheet can cause
ugly, sticky jams. Never mind trying to figure out
how to print one label halfway down the page.
If you intend to share the LabelWriter with others on your network,
they too will need to install the Label Software program in order to
Labels for nearly any occasion. Dymo has a dizzying array of
label types available. VHS cassette front and spine, audio cassette,
diskettes, Zip discs, shipping labels, “visitor” labels, price tags,
appointment reminders, and security tags are among the long list. One
type not available yet: Mini DV for the new generation of digital
Given the times in which we now live, businesses are more
security-conscious than ever. Here’s a great idea: Connect the
LabelWriter and a digital camera to the receptionist's computer. When
visitors arrive, you snap their picture and print a “Visitor” label
with their photo.
Alas, there is one downside: If you thought those boxes of sheet-fed
labels for your laser or inkjet printer were expensive, be prepared to
cough up a little more dough. For example, a box containing 700 white
1-1/8" x 3-1/2" Dymo labels will set you back $19.95, or 2.85 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, about half the cost. But you
can’t knock the great convenience that Dymo offers.
Forget the Post Office. If you’re going to be tracking
inventory, the LabelWriter can spit out an amazing variety of bar
codes. But for most small office scenarios, the LabelWriter’s most
alluring feature is its ability to print “Internet postage,” specially
encoded labels you slap on your envelopes. Two companies with which Dymo maintains partnership agreements,
Stamps.com, both sell Internet postage products and services that
are fully integrated with Dymo’s entire LabelWriter product line. You
pay service fees above the cost of the postage, but for companies that
don’t have a postage meter, the convenience may be worth the cost. For
example, Endicia’s annual plan has a service fee of $99.95, regardless
of how much postage you purchase.
So do you really need a
Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo? In a word, no. But this handy little
gadget can make life a whole lot easier, especially for any small
business. I can certainly live without a
Dymo LabelWriter, but I don’t want to.<