The Brother TD-4000 is a distant cousin to the Editors’ Choice Brother QL-700. Both are label printers, and both come with the same label-printing program. But where the QL-700 is strong on versatility, with a wide range of label types and even the ability to print stamps, the TD-4000′s strengths are its speed and its ability to print labels up to four inches wide. That makes it a heavier duty printer than most people need, but if you print a lot of labels, or print labels as large as 4 by 36 inches, it may be just right.
With its ability to handle four-inch-wide rolls, the TD-4000 is necessarily wider than typical office label printers like the QL-700, with its maximum 2.4-inch label width. However, it’s not much bigger otherwise, at 6.2 by 6.8 by 9.0 inches (HWD). In fact, it has a smaller footprint than the Editors’ Choice Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo, which is basically two printers in one case. It’s certainly small enough to fit on a desk without taking up a lot of space.
Limited Choice of Label Types, but Easy to Switch
Among the key features the TD-4000 shares with the QL-700 are an automatic cutter and the ability to switch label rolls easily. Most label printers offer a variety of label types and sizes, but swapping out the rolls is just hard enough to discourage switching labels very often.
The Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo offers one solution to that problem, at least for people who use only two label types. By combining two printers in one case, it lets you load two rolls of labels and switch between them as needed. Brother label printers, including the TD-4000, offer a second-best solution, by making it easy enough to switch rolls so it’s not much of an issue unless you need to switch several times a day. I timed the switch, without rushing, at about 30 seconds.
Unfortunately, there aren’t all that many types of rolls to switch to with the TD-4000. According to Brother, the printer can work with thermal paper rolls from other manufacturers, but Brother itself offers only one color—white—in a choice of five sizes, 2 by 1 inches, 3 by 1 inches, 4 by 1.97 inches, 4 by 6 inches, and a 4-inch-wide continuous format.
Street prices for the rolls range from $144 to $225 for boxes of 12 rolls, with 3,372 to 18,528 labels per box, depending on label size. That works out to about 1 cent per label for the 2 by 1 and 3 by 1 labels, 2.2 cents for the 4 by 1 labels, and 4.3 cents for the 4 by 6 labels. The continuous roll comes out to 12.9 cents per foot.
Setup and Software
Setting up the TD-4000 is standard for a label printer. For my tests, using a Windows Vista system, I connected by USB cable, although the printer also offers an RS-232 serial port for those who need one. The installation routine puts on your hard drive both Brother’s P-touch Editor version 5 label printing software and a printer driver that lets you print directly from standard application programs like Microsoft Word or Excel.
The software also offers some useful tricks, including the option to install P-touch shortcuts in the Word, Excel, and Outlook toolbars or Ribbons (depending on the Microsoft Office version). The shortcuts let you send text to P-touch Editor to print as labels, which is particularly useful for printing labels from a list, including, for example, turning some or all of your Outlook contacts into mailing-list labels.
One minor issue is that although the printer can recover from errors gracefully, the manual doesn’t explain how. The trick is to tap on the power button without holding it for long enough to turn the printer off, then choose the Trashcan button in the popup that shows on your computer screen to delete the print job from the print queue.
Also note, more as a disappointment than a problem, that if you use the cloud-based options for FedEx or UPS, there’s no easy way to print labels for either. However, Brother says that UPS’s downloadable program for Windows, UPS WorldShip, will let you print UPS labels on the printer without problems.
Largely making up for the minor issues I ran into is that the TD-4000 is impressively fast. Brother rates the printer at 4.3 inches per second (ips). The actual time will be a little slower, because of the time between giving a print command and the printer starting to print. However the more labels you print at a time, the closer the total time will be to the claimed speed.
I timed a single one-inch address label with three lines plus a Postnet bar code at 3.2 seconds, 50 labels at 18.5 seconds, and 100 labels at 34.0 seconds. After adding the extra eighth of an inch between labels, that works out to 3.04 ips for 50 labels and 3.3 ips for 100 labels. As a point of comparison, the QL-700, which is fast for its price class, managed 83.3 address labels per minute (lpm) on our tests. On the 100-label test, the TD-4000 was more than twice as fast, with the 100 labels in 34 seconds translating to a rate of 176.5 lpm.
Given its price and speed, the Brother TD-4000 would be overkill for most offices. If you just want a label printer on your desk for printing a few labels a day, a printer like the Brother QL-700 or Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo will be a far better fit. But if you need to print lots of labels at once on a regular basis for mailing lists or the like, need to print labels at up to four inches wide, or both, the Brother TD-4000 offers the kind of speed and capability that can handle the job. For that level of heavy-duty label printing, it may well be your first choice.
|Printer Category||Thermal Dye|
|Direct Printing from Cameras||No|
|Maximum Standard Paper Size||4" x 6"|
|Color or Monochrome||Monochrome|
|Connection Type||USB, RS-232 Serial|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc