Brother TD-4100N review

The Brother TD-4100N connects to a network so anyone in your office can print labels.

The Brother TD-4100N label printer is almost identical to the Brother TD-4000 that I recently reviewed, except that it adds an Ethernet connector. As we’ve seen with other label printers, that makes a big difference in speed, with the TD-4100N coming in significantly slower than the TD-4000 on some of our tests. More important, however, is that it turns the TD-4100N into a shared printer. That, in turn, makes its heavy-duty capability more appropriate for more offices, since everyone on your network can use it.

Like the Brother TD-4000, the TD-4100N is a distant cousin to the Editors’ Choice Brother QL-700 and it’s network-ready variation, the Brother QL-720NW. However, it doesn’t offer the same variety of label types or the same ability to print stamps as the QL models. Instead, it concentrates on speed and also adds the ability to print labels as large as four-inches wide. That translates to less versatility than the QL models but heavier duty capability.


Because it can handle rolls as large as four-inches wide, the TD-4100N is necessarily wider than printers like the Brother QL-700 or QL-720NW that are limited to smaller sizes. However it’s not much bigger otherwise, coming in at the same 6.2 by 6.8 by 9.0 inches (HWD) as the TD-4000. As with its near twin, that makes it small enough to fit on a desk easily and gives it a smaller footprint than the Editors’ Choice Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo.

Key features for the TD-4100N include an automatic cutter and the ability to switch label rolls easily. That’s important, because swapping out rolls with most label printers is just hard enough to discourage switching labels very often. With the TD-4100N it took me only about 30 seconds to switch rolls without rushing, and it was easy enough that you’re unlikely to consider it an issue unless you have to switch rolls repeatedly every day.

Unfortunately, as with the TD-4000, there aren’t all that many types of rolls to switch to with the TD-4100N. Brother says that it will work with thermal paper rolls from other manufacturers, but Brother’s own paper labels for the printer come in only one color—white—and 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.

Brother’s label rolls range from $144 to $225 (street) for boxes of 12 rolls, with 3,372 to 18,528 labels per box, depending on the label size. That works out to about 1 cent per label each 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 price is 12.9 cents per foot.

Setup and Software
Setup is mostly standard for a label printer, except that you have the choice of connecting by USB, RS-232, or Ethernet. For my tests, I used the Ethernet connector.

The automated setup routine installs Brother’s P-touch Editor version 5 label printing software plus a standard printer driver. The software also lets you add shortcuts to the Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook toolbars or Ribbons (depending on the Microsoft Office version). Each shortcut lets you send text directly to P-touch Editor, with the text automatically inserted into a label format and ready to print. That makes it easy to turn a single address in a Word document into an envelope label or instantly turn any or all of your Outlook contact entries into a ready-to-print mailing list.

One minor issue the TD-4100N shares with the TD-4000 is that although the printer can recover from errors gracefully, the manual doesn’t explain the process well. All you need to do, however, is tap on the power button without holding it for long enough to turn the printer off, then choose the Trashcan button from the popup that shows on your computer screen to delete the print job from the queue.

Another minor issue that that the TD-4100N shares with the TD-4000 is that if you use the cloud-based options for Fed Ex or UPS, there’s no easy way to print labels for either. According to Brother, however, UPS’s downloadable UPS WorldShip, which runs in Windows, will let you print UPS labels without problems.

The TD-4100N was significantly slower than the Brother TD-4000 on some of our tests. Brother rates it at the same 4.3 inches per second (ips), but using a network connection slows it down for continuous print jobs, like printing 100 labels. I timed both printers at roughly 3 seconds for printing a single label with a three-line address plus a Postnet code. But where the TD-4000 managed to print 50 labels in 18.5 seconds and 100 labels in 34 seconds, the TD-4100N took 1 minute 22 seconds for 50 labels, and 2:42 for 100 labels.

Interestingly, when I set both printers to automatically cut the roll after each label instead of cutting just once at the end, they came out to essentially the same speed for 50 labels, at 1:44 for the TD-4100N and 1:41 for the Brother TD-4000.

As may be obvious, if you print just a few labels a day and don’t need a 4-inch-wide label, a less expensive choice, like the QL-720NW, should be all you need. Beyond that, given the Brother TD-4100N’s higher price compared with the TD-4000, and its slower speed for some tasks when using a network connection, there’s no reason to choose it over the TD-4000 if you can make do with a USB connection. If you need a label printer you can share on a network, however, and also need the heavy-duty print capability, the ability to print four-inch-wide labels, or both, the Brother TD-4100N may well be the printer you want.

Color or Monochrome Monochrome
Maximum Standard Paper Size 4" x 6"
Printer Category Thermal Dye
Direct Printing from Cameras No
Connection Type USB, Ethernet, RS-232 Serial

The Brother TD-4100N offers an Ethernet port, an automatic cutter, and a choice of label sizes ranging from 2 by 1 inches to a continuous 4-inch wide roll.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc