Brother P-touch PT-P700 review

The Brother P-touch PT-P700 can print plastic labels on tapes up to 24 mm (not quite 1 inch) wide.
Photo of Brother P-touch PT-P700

Printers like the Brother P-touch PT-P700, which print on plastic labels, come in several mix and match design choices. They can be handhelds like the Dymo LabelManager 420P or desktop units like the Editors’ Choice Brother P-touch PT-D200. They can have their own keyboards, as with the Dymo 420P and Brother PT-D200, to work as standalone labelers or print from a PC (or do both). And, finally, they can be portable or not. The PT-700 is a desktop unit without a keyboard, but designed for easy portability from desk to desk within an office. It’s also one of the best examples of that particular design mix.

Like the Dymo LabelManager PnP that it replaces as Editors’ Choice, the PT-P700 gets its portability from a combination of small size, the ability to run on battery power, and the option to define and print labels using built-in labeling software that runs from the printer’s memory. The built-in software is much less capable than the full version you can install from disc, but it lets you connect to a computer by USB cable and print without having to install anything.

The Basics
At 5.6 by 3.1 by 6.0 inches (HWD), the PT-P700 won’t take up much space on your desk. Even better, the small size, along with the 1.6-pound weight, make it easy to pick up and move from desk to desk as needed. One trick it misses that the PnP offers is that it doesn’t use rechargeable batteries. With the PnP you can recharge the batteries over the USB connection, so you never need a power outlet and never have to change batteries. The PT-P700 gives you the choice of connecting its AC power cord or installing six AA batteries.

Initial setup consists of snapping in the tape cartridge the printer comes with, connecting the power cord or installing batteries, and then plugging in the supplied USB cable. As is standard for hardware that stores its own application program in memory, the printer looks like a USB drive to your computer, which lets you run the label printing utility from the printer’s memory. According to Brother, the software will work with Windows Vista and above as well as with Mac OS X 10.6.8 through 10.8.x. For my tests, I used a system running Windows Vista.

Software Choices
The built-in program offers all the editing and formatting features that many people will ever need, including the ability to change font and font size, specify the length of the label, add frames, and even capture an image from your screen to insert into the label. It also takes advantage of the printer’s automatic cutter to cut individual labels from the roll. If you like however, you can turn the feature off and cut the labels manually later.

If you want more capability, you can install the full version of P-touch Editor 5.1, which Brother provides on disc. The full version offers lots of additional features, including more frames to choose from, the ability to print bar codes, and a start up screen with 31 options—including a Cable Labeling Wizard and various categories of predefined labels, like Calendar (with labels for days of the week)—to help make creating labels a little faster. Both programs are easy to get started with.

Printing
As with most label printers and label printing utilities, printing is simple. Create the label in the program, give the print command, and then wait for the printer to finish printing the label and cutting it off the roll.

Print time depends largely on the length of the label. Using the built-in version of the print utility, and including the time for cutting the label off the roll, a 6-inch label with the text PCMag: Printer Speed Test took 9.3 seconds. A 4-inch version with the same text, using a smaller font, took 6.9 seconds.

The full program takes a little longer to print than the light version, largely because the full version feeds a small length of tape and cuts it off before printing the actual label. I timed it at 10.9 seconds with a 6-inch label.

Also demanding mention are the choices in tapes for the PT-P700. I counted 65 cartridges on the Brother website, in five widths (ranging from 0.13 to 0.94 inches) and an assortment of color combinations, including black on white, red, green, blue, yellow, fluorescent orange, matte silver, and clear; white on black, blue, satin gold, satin silver, lime green, berry pink, and clear; red on white; gold on black; and blue on white.

Most tapes are for standard laminated labels. Other types include flexible ID, extra-strength adhesive, non-laminated iron on fabric, and acid free tapes. There’s also a tamper-evident tape that leaves behind a checkerboard pattern if someone tries to remove it.

If you need a self-contained labeling system with its own keyboard, this is obviously the wrong printer to get. But if what you need is a desktop label printer for printing from a PC, and particularly if you want one that you can move from desk to desk in the office as needed, or even take between locations, it offers an appealing balance of portability and capability, particularly for the price. If you need to print rugged labels at sizes up to nearly one-inch wide, in short, the Brother P-touch PT-P700 will be hard to beat. That makes it an easy pick for Editors’ Choice.

Specifications
Color or Monochrome Monochrome
Type Printer Only
Printer Category Thermal Transfer
Direct Printing from Cameras No
Connection Type USB

Verdict
The Brother P-touch PT-P700 prints (mostly) laminated plastic labels using a variety of tape colors and types, at widths ranging from 3.5 to 24 mm (roughly 0.13 to 1 inch).
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc