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back to article Brother P-Touch 2100 label printer

While paper dominates most printing issues, there are those who need a different kind of beast to print on plastic to produce long-lasting identification and warning labels. The old embossed Dymo tape of yore, adorning dad’s tool drawers and just about every fuse box in the land, while still going today, has had to give way to …

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Bronze badge

"Common symbols like exclamation..."

Hmmm, looking at the picture, you might try SHIFT-1, just like on a PC keyboard, to get an exclamation mark (it looks like all the numbers can be shifted to get symbols).

Now, the missing brackets I'll give you - but they're likely to be used a lot less often on labels than with ordinary typing (or writing code).

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Label printers are great

I have a different (cheaper) model of Brother P-touch label printer; mine has the keyboard input but no USB socket for connection to a PC. I bougth mine for about 30 pounds when it was on sale in a shop a few years ago. There are many practical uses for the labels from such printers, especially if you use a narrower label tape (I think I normally use a 9mm tape). Here are my most common uses.

Print labels saying "TV", "radio", "lamp", "computer", "speakers", and so on, and stick these on all the plugs in your house. You will then never accidentally unplug the wrong piece of equipment.

If you frequently print and bind documents with a plastic-comb binding machine then print the name of the document on a label and stick this on the spine of the plastic comb. It makes it much easier to find a specific document on a shelf-full of bound documents.

Print your email address and mobile phone number on a few labels; some label printers can print two lines of (small) text on label tape, so such labels can be quite compact. Stick these labels on pieces of luggage that have a hard-case, on your laptop computer, on gadgets and so on. If any of these items get lost then the finder will have your contact details to report it.

Print in large letters on a (wide tape) label a message like "No free newspapers, leaflets or catalogues" and stick that on your letterbox. It will eliminate a lot of the junk that you would otherwise receive.

I agree with the manufacturer's claim that the labels are very durable. The label attached to my letterbox has been there for several years without peeling off or showing signs of weather damage. Likewise, the contact-details labels on my luggage are still intact (unlike the countless luggage tags that I had used previously).

Here are some other tips. If you buy a machine without a power adapter then don't bother buying a power adapter separately. Just run it off batteries. The first set of batteries in my machine lasted for several years of occasional use. The machine turns off automatically after being idle for several minutes, which helps prolong the batter life. The recommended retail price of the label tape is a bit expensive; typically about 10 pounds or more for one tape. Whenever I am running low on labels, I hunt for bargins on eBay.

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Based on your review, I thought higher then 70%

Based on the rather glowing description in your review, I thought it would get higher then 70%. The only negatives were that it wastes tape (by design I believe all brands of this type of label printer waste quite a bit of tape at the end of a label.) It doesn't have a full keyboard (pretty minor) and the computer software which many people will never use is Windows only (maybe a more major gripe, but also not unexpected as Linux and Mac OS X always take a back seat.)

So with all that, I figured you'd give it a 90% or so. Very odd.

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Linux

OSS Drivers

While very limited, there are some open source (foomatic) drivers and filters available for the Brother pTouch line from the OpenPrinting folks. While I've had little luck getting anything other than garbled dots and dashes out of my PT2610, a little bit of work on the code should get useful results for the more diligent among us.

http://www.openprinting.org/show_driver.cgi?driver=ptouch

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@Ciaran McHale

I agree with you, Ciaran. I have a cheapie Dymo LabelPoint 100 that takes 6mm and 9mm tapes, and run it off batteries. The original set of batteries lasted about 4-5 years, and were replaced for the first time recently. It's great to be able to label network cables, external HD enclosures, plugs, and all sorts of stuff with long-lasting, yet neat, labels.

The "wastage" is unfortunate, but difficult to avoid, since the labels have to be fed out of the machines in order for us to take them, and there needs to be room for the cutter too. That would need to be much closer to the tape spool in order to eliminate the "white space", and the spools would likely be much harder to fit in that scenario.

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@Steve Foster

Agreed - I have a Dymo LabelPoint 150 for Network, system and labelling the tea and coffee jugs - and it does what it says on the tin - prints labels from the nice and small to the stupidly large to indicate a switch is dead and don't use it.

It's defiantly a tool an engineer should have if they're trying to document things and work out where they should go.

My soultion to the wastage (apart from printing smaller labels) is to use a pair of scissors to do trimming with - part of the issue is the amount of feed is required.

But unless you're printing every 5 minutes, tapes last for a fair old time in my experience

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Very Useful tool...

I've used various iterations of the P-Touch and M-touch label machines for a number of years. They are ideal for just about any task that requires a label- I used mine primarily for labeling network and telcomm connections, printers, and servers. While the PC interface is a handy feature to have, it's only really useful for batch operations and a bit of mucking about with their software.

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Boffin

Tape wastage

The reason I made the wastage comment is that the Dymo LabelWriter Duo, for example, doesn't waste tape in the same way. OK, it's a label printer, rather than a standalone label-maker, but it uses very similar technology. All it really needs to avoid the wastage is some way to wind the tape back, so the print head lines up with start of each label -- not too hard to achieve, I wouldn't have thought. I reckon 12% wastage on an average length of label is quite high.

Steve, I'll give you exclamation mark, but it still can't do (, ), ", _, +, = or @ from the keyboard, only by selection from a menu. Some symbols are more essential than others for labels, or course.

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Reducing wastage of label tape

If you know that you need to print several labels then the you can reduce the amount of tape wastage by printing one (long) label that contains all the text you want, separated by a few space characters, and then use a scissors to cut out the individual labels. For example, when labelling plugs, print one label that says "TV radio kettle toaster hi-fi DVD".

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Hasn't ANYONE read their manual, or just tried fiddling with the settings ?

The Brother label printers I've used have a setting to control the tape usage. If printing several labels, just turn down the tape setting and it shoves out less blank tape - you then need to cut the labels apart with scissors. The default setting adds blank tape to shift the printed label clear of the cutter PLUS sufficient extra blank tape to make the resulting labels symmetrical.

I've used different versions of these printers for years - wouldn't be without them.

PS - the labels are actually laminated - there is nothing high tech about this. Pull an old cartridge apart and you'll find that it contains three rolls of material. First there is the base - the background colour with adhesive and peel off backing paper. Then there is a roll of ordinary thermal transfer 'ink' in whatever colour the text is printed. Lastly there is a clear layer (with it's own adhesive back) which is laminated onto the front of the background after printing. The result is (as others have said) a very durable label.

Now if only they did Mac software for these.

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