Brother – P-touch QL-550 review

dedicated label and sign printer
Photo of Brother – P-touch QL-550
£149 + VAT

If you need to print address labels, or any other kind of label for that matter, the usual method is to run an A4-size sheet of blank labels through a printer. This is fine if you need to print off lots of labels in one go, but if you only need to print one or two at a time it’s a cumbersome and wasteful way of going about it. The P-touch QL-550 from Brother is designed to solve precisely that problem.

This small, stylishly designed printer is about the same size as two desktop telephones stacked on top of each other and shouldn’t be hard to find room for on even the most cluttered desks. It prints onto continuous rolls of sticky-backed paper up to 62mm wide and features a built-in auto-cutter. This means you can print labels of any size you like and the machine will automatically slice off nice smooth edges (the cheaper QL-500 has a manual cutter instead). The printer can even be used to print simple ad-hoc signs.

Using a thermal printing engine which eliminates the need for toner, ribbons or other consumables apart from the paper, the P-touch QL-550 prints at 300dpi, a resolution more than high enough for the kind of jobs this machine is likely to be used for. It’s no slouch either, rattling off up to 50 standard address labels per minute. Probably not quite as fast as a high-end laser printing on label sheets, but certainly good enough for most moderate sized jobs.

Installation is a simple enough process; the device uses a USB connection and comes supplied with drivers and support software on a CD. This includes a piece of editing software which allows you to create custom label layouts along with barcodes and any other graphical devices you might want to use.

We managed to install the device and print off some test labels within 15 minutes, including a short coffee break. The driver integrates tightly with most MS Office applications, so printing from a database or spreadsheet shouldn’t present users with any headaches. Operating the machine is simple as it features just three buttons: power, sheet feed and a manual cut button.

Company: Brother

Contact: 0161 931 2384


Verdict
There's not really much to fault the P-touch QL-550 on. It does a simple job well and comes at a price that puts it easily within the grasp of even the smallest business. If we had to find a fault, it would be that the design is such that labels are spewed out of the front and dropped onto your desk, and some sort of catch tray would be a nice addition. This, however, is really nit-picking and there is practically no reason we can imagine to advise against buying this machine. If your budget is tight, consider the QL-500.