Brady’s BMP 21-PLUS and Brother’s PT-E300 are very similar printers both targeted at the same users for the same environment. How do they compare with functionality, quality and the labels they produce? Below is a table of features to compare.
|Maximum continuous width||18mm||19mm|
|Minimum continuous width||3.5mm||6mm|
|Average tape length of all compatible media||4.4m||4.5m|
|Post print option||None / Cut||None / Cut & grab|
|Power source||Included Li-Ion rechargeable battery*, included mains adaptor* or 6x AA||Included Li-Ion rechargeable battery*, included mains adaptor* or 6x AA|
|Types of cable marking||Heat shrink, wire wraps, flags||Heat shrink, wire wraps, flags, self-laminating|
|Colour||Orange with black||High-vis yellow with black|
|Heavy duty||Looks and feels less heavy duty than it probably is||Rubber moulded bumpers and drop-tested|
|Hard carry case||Included*||Included*|
|Font size min/max||6/42pt||6/40pt|
|Barcodes||9 types including CODE39 & CODE128||2 types CODE39 & CODE128|
*Only available in the kit
The PT-E300 is easy to use, full of features and has a wide selection of tapes in a variety of different colours. The kit includes a hard carry case, 18mm black on yellow strong tape, rechargeable battery, mains power adaptor & user manual. The printer features a QWERTY keyboard so you’ll be used to it straight away if you’re familiar with your computers keyboard. It features a clear backlit display and a set of buttons to quickly change between label types. If your battery dies and you’re not near a power source to run off the mains adaptor, this printer will run off of 6 AA batteries so it’ll be handy to keep a back in the case so you’re not caught out on a job. The labels are printed quickly but at the beginning of each label there is a 20mm waste which is caused by the design of the TZe tapes so there is no way around this. This means if you were to print labels of 50mm in length you’ll only be using 5.7m of the whole 8m TZe cassette and you’ll be throwing away 2.3m.
Brady BMP 21-PLUS
The BMP 21-PLUS is just as easy to use if not more so than the Brother but has a few less features. The way you use all its features seem to make more sense and are easier to get your head around making it easy to use for the first time. The keyboard is in ABC (alphabetical) format so for the keep typist it might take a little getting used to.
“What if I’ve never used a label printer before?”
I put both these printers in the hands of someone who had never used a label printer before. I took the tapes out of them and asked him to print a label of just his name. He found the Brady one very easy to setup, type on and print but it wasn’t overly clear on how to cut the label. He found the Brother printer a little difficult to insert the tape but typing was easy and the large cut button was obvious. Either way, with anything that’s new to you it’s going to take a little getting used to but these are by far one of the easiest to use today.
For a comparison of the very basic features of these printers see the video below.
One is not necessarily better than the other but they both outweigh one another in terms of features, consumables and costs. The BMP 21-PLUS printer can range between £69 for just the printer and between £125 and £169 for one of the three kits. The PT-E300 kit is only £89.
Brady consumables range between £14 to £53 per cartridge but they do have a massive selection of materials and sizes for all types of use and environments.
Brother range from £7 to £26 for their tapes but the choice of materials is significantly less. However they do have a massive selection of colours. I would argue that in the environment these labels will be going into you would only really need two colours; black on yellow for warnings, black on white for everything else. But they do extra flexible, extra strong adhesive and heat shrink tubing which is pretty much the same select as the BMP 21-PLUS.
With costs and consumables in mind it looks like brother is the winner but if you’re prefer quality and waste reduction over cost then the BMP 21-PLUS is what you’d go for. Also the Brady printer is more heavy duty as I drop tested myself from a height of around 1.1m. Personally I’d go for the Brady as I don’t like wastage, I find it to be easier to use and more comfortable to hold. It’s grip cutter is more convenient along with the label grabber once cut. It feels like I could be a lot more productive as I can be slightly ambidextrous and keeping one hand free could go a long way.