Like the Editors’ Choice Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo, the Dymo LabelWriter 450 Duo combines two printers in one case. Unlike the 450 Twin Turbo, however, the 450 Duo offers two different kinds of printers, rather than two of the same. So where the 450 Twin Turbo lets you keep, say, two different sizes of labels loaded at once, to switch between them easily, the 450 Duo lets you print on both paper labels and plastic labels, effectively giving you two entirely different types of printers in one.
To be clear, what I’m referring to collectively as plastic labels actually includes plastic, nylon, polyester, vinyl, and heat shrink tube (which prints flat but curls into a tube for labeling wires). The labels come in various combinations of colors for both the background and printing color and in widths up to 1.0 inches. Paper labels (a category that actually includes a few plastic labels too, notably clear address labels) are the kind of labels you would use on envelopes, file folders, and the like.
If you need both kinds of labels, the advantages of having the two printers in one case include a lower cost compared with buying two separate printers and the convenience of having only one USB cable and power cord to deal with. In addition, the 450 Duo takes up less desktop space, because its two printer engines are stacked vertically, with the paper label mechanism on top, for an overall size of 7.3 by 5.5 by 7.5 inches (HWD).
Setting Up and Swapping Out Label Rolls
Setting up the 450 Duo is mostly standard fare for a USB-connected label printer, except that you have to load two different types of labels. For the paper labels, you open the top cover, mount the labels on a spool, drop them into the printer, and then thread the roll through a slot in the front of the printer. For the plastic labels, you press a button on the front of the printer, wait for the mechanism to slide out of the case much like a DVD tray, snap in the tape cartridge, and then press the button again to slide the tray in.
Very much on the plus side is that Dymo offers a wide selection of labels in different sizes for the 450 Duo, with 60 choices for the paper labels with variations in size, color, and rolls per box, and 107 choices for plastic labels with variations in color, material, and widths (0.25, 0.375, 0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 inches). Street prices range from $8.49 to $54.99 for the paper labels, and from $14.49 to $45.99 for the plastic labels).
Changing from one type of label to another is easy for plastic labels, since you only have to switch cartridges. Changing paper label rolls is a little harder, particularly when you compare it to changing rolls in some other printers, including the Editors’ Choice Brother QL-700 for example.
With the Brother printer, you can simply lift one roll out of the printer, drop another roll in, and then thread the first label into the printer. With the 450 Duo, you also have to remove the current roll from the spool and mount the replacement roll on the spool. This can get annoying if you change between different types of labels very often. However, Dymo will happily sell you additional spools ($10.50 direct each). Mount each roll on a separate spool, and switching between rolls will be a lot easier.
Note too that one of the paper label rolls is for printing stamps. To actually print them, you need to download the Dymo Stamps program, and you also need to create an account on the Endicia Web site if you don’t have one already. The process involves clicking on the Dymo Stamps option in the label printing program, which should take you to the appropriate page on Endicia’s Web site to walk you through the steps.
As it turns out, depending on your Web browser, you may see the wrong page, which I found out because I was using Chrome, and then confirmed with Dymo tech support. With Chrome, I wound up with a page that insisted I needed to pay $49.95 to upgrade the printer for printing postage. That happens to be true for the Dymo LabelWriter 450 ($99.99 list, 3.5 stars), but not for the 450 Duo. If you’re using Internet Explorer as your default browser, you shouldn’t have this problem, but if you wind up at the wrong page, you’ll need to change your default browser or call Dymo tech support for help.
Software and Performance
As I’ve pointed out in other Dymo label printer reviews, Dymo’s label printing program, now in version 8, is one of the most capable labeling programs available and one of the easiest to use. Among other features, it will let you insert an automatic date and time stamp in a label and any of about 20 bar codes, including Postnet on mailing labels.
In addition to the label printing program, the setup program installs a driver, which lets you print a label directly from any program you like. It also installs label printing add-ins for Word and Excel, which, according to Dymo, work with Word and Excel versions from Office XP, 2003, 2007 and 2010. The add-ins make it easy to create and print labels from an address or other text in a letter, for example, or from data in a spreadsheet.
Unfortunately, the Word add-in appears to modify Word’s Normal.dot template every time Word loads, so every time you close Word, you have to deal with the warning that Normal.dot had changed. As I’ve pointed out in other Dymo printer reviews, however, it’s hard to count this too much against the printer. The add-in is an extra that you can easily do without, and uninstalling it removes the problem. At this writing, Dymo says it has not been able to replicate this issue, and is still looking into it.
The good news is that in most ways, the 450 Duo worked as promised in my tests. I timed individual mailing labels at between 2.5 and 3 seconds each, and a 50-label print job at 46.5 seconds, or 64.5 labels per minute (lpm). That’s a bit slower than the claimed 71 lpm and also slower than the Brother QL-700, at 83.3 lpm, but it’s faster than the LabelWriter 450, at 49.2 lpm. Time for plastic labels varies with the length of the label. I timed a three-inch label with the text PCMag Printer Test at 5.5 seconds, and a six-inch label at 9.0 seconds.
If you don’t need to print both paper and plastic labels, there’s little reason to get this printer. If you need to print both, however, it offers a lot to like. It will save you both money and desk space over buying two separate printers with the same capabilities, and without skimping on features for either kind of labels. If you need to print both kinds, that’s easily enough to make the Dymo LabelWriter 450 Duo an appealing choice.
|Color or Monochrome||Monochrome|
|Direct Printing from Cameras||No|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc