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The Dymo LabelWriter 450 Turbo is a very attractive little printer and is supplied with equally attractive labelling software in the form of DYMO Label V8 on CD. It is powered exclusively by a mains power adaptor and ships with a USB cable, quick start guide, roll of 35 x 90mm address labels and a head cleaning card. There is no stand-alone option. This printer must be used in conjunction with a PC.
To begin with the software, when you launch Label V8 you find yourself looking at a pleasing layout, the design window being on the right with the usual formatting icons along the top, plus a three-tab selection area on the left. The first of these tabs offers a range of ready-made labels, primarily address and shipping labels, each of which includes a subset of smart layouts featuring symbols and instant place-holders for text, plus your logo if you have one. Under the heading ‘Speciality/Retail’ there is just one forlorn item, which is a CD label that would cover about one-third of a CD. Here again there is a subset of instant layouts allowing curved text in various arrangements. Three file folder labels and one badge label are also to be found, along with a miscellany of multi-purpose labels including one for a VHS/spine!
The second tab is called ‘Designer’ and this makes available all the objects required to design a label from scratch. An object may be dragged to the label or inserted by double-clicking it, its properties being altered by double-clicking the resulting field. These objects are:
- An intelligent text box for importing addresses from your email address book. The fields thus created are populated automatically when you change to the third tab, called ‘Address Book’, wherein checkboxes may be ticked to indicate which addresses you wish to print.
- A static text box for typing fixed text.
- An automatic counter for serial numbering. You can choose any start number you like, and any increment, using the ‘Width’ setting to control the number of leading zeros. Text cannot be included incrementally but fixed ‘before’ and ‘after’ text can be included in any Windows font. There is also a ‘vertical text’ option of the kind which rotates the text line but not its characters.
- A date and time stamp in any format you like, 12 or 24 hour clock, with optional ‘before’ and ‘after’ text in any Windows font. Now, don’t get excited when you see controls for ‘Font Colour’ and ‘Background Colour’ as these are just shades of grey, of course, the 450 Turbo not being a colour printer. Naturally, the date and time stamp is updated by the Windows clock each time your label is printed.
- A barcode stamp with18 barcode formats to choose from. Source data can be fixed (typed directly) or linked to another label object. You can print the barcode with the ‘human readable’ equivalent above or below the code in any Windows font. The barcode may be rotated in 90 degree steps. The formats available are: Code 39 (in its various guises), Interleaved 2 of 5, UPC, EAN, Codabar and Code 39 Library in their various guises, UCC EAN 128, and ITF-14.
- A shape object which can insert a square or an oblong, a circle or an oval, a horizontal or vertical line, and do each in a range of line thicknesses and greyscale interior fills. It has to be said that the Turbo 450 produces greyscale tones extremely well.
- An image object which allows the insertion of a picture file or even the contents of the Windows clipboard, or alternatively the default image of a telephone. Care has to be taken when loading anything from the clipboard as Dymo Label 8 struggles for memory when a large amount has been placed there. Your image may be inserted with or without a border, rotated in 90 degree steps, and be protected from horizontal or vertical distortion by locking the aspect ratio.
- Circular text, which allows text to follow a top arc, bottom arc, or full circle. A side arc is achieved by rotating the top arc through 90 degrees.
- A gallery of 94 symbols arranged for quick access. It should be noted that these symbols are not of great industrial or commercial use, being mainly of a decorative bias.
Altogether, then, the software is very intuitive and truly graphical in nature, but there are some endearing quirks. For example, a conventional zoom control for enlarging the label itself is partnered with a zoom slider for magnifying the whole window. This slider is strangely satisfying to operate but of little use unless you have poor eyesight or an outsized monitor.
Another oddity, in my view, is ‘Mirror Image’ which frequently appears as a text option but doesn’t actually produce back-to-front text, as one might expect, instead producing upside-down text facing the original text. This would be fun if the end product looked like a reflection in a puddle but it doesn’t. In fact, if you type a word and select mirror image, then rotate the resulting ensemble through 180 degrees, you finish up with the same thing! But there does remain the amusing option of stretching the box horizontally until the words separate.
Moving to the printer itself, such a creditable job does it do that there is very little to say about it. The minimum font size is a tiny 4pt, which is faint but still readable, and the maximum font size is anything that fits the label. As for speed, in a quick test the printer took twelve seconds to produce ten typical address labels. Knocking off the two seconds download time, you are left with about one label per second. Pretty cool.
There is no electric cutter but a serrated blade provides good, clean tear-off.
In addition to the usual form-feed button there is a back-feed button to make easy work of disengaging the label prior to removing the roll from the printer.
Don’t look for an on/off switch, there isn’t one. One can only guess at the reasoning for this. Perhaps switching off the mains adaptor is considered greener and safer. Which, of course, is true. In any case, a ‘low power’ mode kicks in after a period of dormancy.
I found no user manual in the box, only a quick start guide, but the printer is just too simple to necessitate one and the software provides extensive help files.
In conclusion, the strength of this printer and its software lies in its user-friendliness. If you are intimidated by computers then the LabelWriter 450 Turbo, with its Dymo Label software Version 8, might just be the antidote you need.
What’s In The Box
- Adaptor and mains lead
- USB cable
- Quick-start guide
- Roll of 35 x 90mm address labels
- Label design software CD
- Head cleaning card
Dimensions and Supported Operating Systems
- Dimensions: 125 x 180 x 135mm
- Print Type: Direct thermal
- Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP, Vista, 7 and Mac OSx