Labelling from Brother 

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As an inveterate labeller, I am always on the look-out for the means to improve on the basic pen and paper method. Could Brother help?
Brother PT-18R Labelling Machine

Brother, that's the printer company rather than a relative, covers a wide gamut of devices dealing with different aspects of printing.  Laser printers, inject printers, all-in-one devices and label printers are all featured in the Brother portfolio of available products.  Within the latter category, the various label printers tend to form the P-touch series of electronic devices.  One such model is the P-touch PT-18R which offers portability as part of its feature set.

The PT-18R is rather too large to be described as pocket size (149 x 49 x 121mm and weighing approximately 500g) but it can easily be held in one hand while the other could be entering data using the QWERTY style keyboard that decorates the front of the unit.  Dotted around the main keyboard layout are specific keys for carrying out operations such as turning the unit on/off; print; preview; formatting; and using the numerous build-in symbols.  A 56 x 21mm Dot Matrix LCD, capable of displaying two lines of 15 character text, completes the front of this matt silver unit with blue piping.

The PT-18R is powered by a rechargeable battery pack.  A docking station, which doubles as a battery charger unit, comes as standard with the package. An initial charge of the NI-MH battery takes around 12 hours so that the device can be operated in a variety of locations without the need of connecting to an appropriate power source although you do have this option if circumstances allow.

When creating labels the PT-18R uses TZ laminated tape and can accept 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 3/4" sizes.  By default a 1/2" black on white TZ starter tape is included in the box.  This tape needs to be inserted, along with the rechargeable battery, into the innards of the PT-18R.  This is a relatively easy operation once you have mastered the trick of releasing the catch that holds the back of the unit in place.

As mentioned earlier, you can type in data direct from the keyboard.  Options are available to use the supplied four fonts with eight styles that include most of the standard offerings such as bold, italic, outline and normal.  Accented characters are available along with symbols which have been categorised as punctuation, mathematics, brackets, arrows, units of measurement, International, number, pictograph, electrical and other.  You can also create and use barcodes as part of a label.

Often used labels can be saved as files in the unit's memory, up to a maximum of 10 files, and recalled when required.  You can also transfer label data from your computer using the supplied software.  With this latter option you will need to be running Windows 98 or later.  Printing is reasonable quick at around 10mm per second while the tape can be attached to various surfaces once the cover is removed from the adhesive on the back of the tape.

The review unit I had been using came from America (many thanks but the product is available in this country from various sources.  Hopefully the UK supplied units will have a power lead with a three-pin plus rather than the two-pin plug in the review unit.  Prices for the actual label printer tend to vary from £74 up to £129.  Depending upon the width of the tape, prices for additional tapes cost from £9 up to £18 for eight metres.

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