Product Reviews

Product Reviews

In Brief

Easy to install and use, the Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo 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 useful" scale.


Price

$219.99 list,
$199.99 street

Dymo Corp.
Stamford, Conn.


Competition

Seiko Instruments USA competes with Dymo. Its Smart Label Printer 240 printer offers only 203 dpi resolution, requires 3 seconds to print a label, and cannot handles labels wider than 2" The SLP 240 is priced at $249.99.


Key Specs

4300 dpi resolution

4Thermal print technology

4Labels to 2.3" (56mm) wide

45.25" H x 5" W x 7.25" D

4One-year limited warranty

small Office tools

Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo

Rating:

By Joel Shore

September 7, 2002

Are you hiding a secret too horrible to mention? You know which one I mean—that typewriter you have stashed away just for addressing envelopes and packages.

Well 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, “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 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 up 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).

Hands-on testing. 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 design labels.

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 video camcorders.

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, Endicia Internet Postage and 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.<

 
Yeas & Nays

Yea:

4Prints up to 2.3" wide

4Easy to network

4Prints postage

4Uses no ink or toner

4Reads your existing address lists

4Perfect for “visitor” labels with a photo

Nay:

4Labels are expensive

4Black only, no color


Bar Codes

The 330 Turbo prints UPCA, UPCE, EAN8, EAN13, Codabar, Code 39, Code 128, and Interleaved 2 of 5 bar codes.
 

Labels Galore

More than 40 label types are available, ranging from standard address, file folder, shipping and disk labels, to special stock for specific uses, such as pricing jewelry. Many are available in a variety of colors
 

In the Box

Package contents: Printer, power adapter, USB cable, serial cable, one roll of 100 shipping labels (2-516" x 4"), Windows/Mac software, CD-based user guide, printed Quick Start Guide.

   

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