LabelWriter II Plus (computer label printer) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Denny Atkin
If you're tired of feeding labels into your printer or (shudder) typewriter, you'll find relief in CoStar's LabelWriter II Plus.
This cute little label printer attaches to your system's serial port (leaving your parallel port free for your fullsize printer). It uses thermal printing technology to print labels up to 2.44 inches wide at 138 dpi. (CoStar's less-expensive LabelWriter II limits print width to 1.22 inches but is otherwise identical.)
The bundled DOS and Windows software makes the LabelWriter II Plus a pleasure to use. I did most of my design work with the Windows version, which includes an address book, a list book (a minidatabase for nonaddress-type label entries), and Designer, a miniature desktop publishing program just for labels. The address and list books can read and write dBASE- and CSV-format files, making it easy to bring in your current data. Designer lets you place text in any TrueType font, as well as black-and-white BMP, TIF, and PCX graphics, on your labels. Even at 138 dpi, the labels look very professional and jaggy-free. The LabelWriter II Plus will print U.S. Postal Service Postnet bar codes, as well as the standard Code 39, 1-2/5, EAN8, and EAN 13 bar codes which small-business owners might find useful. My favorite feature, though, is the incredibly useful AutoPrint, which will automatically print an address label when you print a letter from Word for Windows, Ami Pro, or WordPerfect for Windows. You can also print an address from the clipboard.
The DOS software has similar capabilities and can also automatically print addresses from your printer output. Although the program, which installs as a TSR, is quite powerful, you'll probably prefer the graphical version if you have Windows.
You'll find that standard address labels (in yellow or white, or clear), larger shipping labels, labels for 3-1/2-inch disks, and labels for the tops and spines of VHS videotapes are readily available at most office-supply or computer stores. The thermal labels are reasonably priced, ranging from just under two cents to about five cents apiece; this is much less expensive that most laser-printer labels. The LabelWriter II Plus pays for itself many times over in the convenience it provides.