It’s the little brother!
The XTL 300 is the XTL 500’s little brother. It does nearly all the same features but in a smaller package. It prints tape sizes up to 24mm wide in a variety of materials, has a colour screen, a clicky QWERTY keyboard and rechargeable battery.
- 2.75″ (57 x 42mm) colour screen
- QWERTY keyboard
- Long life 7.4V 1500mAh Li-Po battery
- Tapes from 6mm to 24mm
- Continuous vinyl, polyester, heat shrink, self-laminating, pre-cut sizes and coloured safety tapes available
- Manual cutter
- Automatic tape detection
- Very intuitive built-in software
- PC connectivity + import own logos
|Clicky QWERTY keyboard||Power-on speed|
|Colour screen||Button to open cassette door is too small and too stiff|
|Print quality and materials||Cutter is not replaceable|
If you’ve not read my review of the XTL 500 then you will be very aware of this printer. I will keep this review short and sweet so as not to repeat myself as the XTL 500 and 300 are very similar but the differences are certainly opposite ends of the scale.
First thing you notice is the size. Unlike the bigger XTL 500 this can easily be held in one hand. The 500 has been mistaken for a desktop printer due to its size. The 300 is also around 1000 grams lighter at only 1.1Kg (with battery, without tape).
The main differences on the 300 from the 500 include:
- A non-replaceable manual cutter
- Smaller non-touch colour screen
- Maximum tape width of 24mm
- Smaller capacity battery (almost a third of the capacity)
- Almost half the weight
- No carry handle but includes a wrist strap
- Available in a kit with a case or on its own
This is probably the smallest hand-held printer on the market that produces QR codes (correct me if I’m wrong). As much as the QR codes look small and less detailed than I would expect to be readable, the barcode scanner on my phone could scan them in less than a second.
It takes all the same consumables but only up to 24mm. Heat shrink tubing, cable wraps, vinyl; these will all work in this printer but it’s down to choosing the correct size. (Don’t forget our heatshrink tubing calculator!)
It’s almost the same as the 500. There’s no touchscreen so the GUI differs slightly with the placement of on-screen buttons. You have four buttons along the bottom of the screen which will match up with what you see on the screen. For example a dialog box will have “Close” at the bottom left and “OK” at the bottom right. This means the far left and far right buttons will perform that function. The two middle ones sometimes follow suit of nearest button but will do nothing unless labelled.
It’s still just as fast (or rather “as slow”) as the 500 at starting up but once it’s running then the speed is adequate. I may have failed to mention this on the previous review, but the delay between pressing print and it actually printing can leave you thinking for a moment if you pressed the button hard enough. A small amount of patience is required with using this printer.
With the boot speed being the slowest thing about this printer, you may wish to turn off the “auto off” feature. By default this is set to 10 minutes but you can change it to lower (10 minutes should have been the lowest in my opinion) or off. I guess from the battery saving aspect of it, it makes sense but I would find it annoying.
The overall size of the printer is close but no cigar in my opinion. Much like when the iPhone 6 was first launched, this looks too tall for its width. The cut button is too big and the push button to open the cassette compartment is too small and far too stiff. The QWERTY keyboard is great but for someone with larger fingers than mine, they may struggle. I’d be curious to see how long the blade in the cutter lasts as it’s replaceable in the 500 and not this. I’ve noticed the battery life goes down even when its switch off on both models, so it’s worth noting you may wish to keep it on charge all the time you’re not using it. The lack of touchscreen is no big deal as it functions perfectly well with the arrow buttons and the buttons around the screen. Print speed and responsiveness is fine with the exception of boot up time and the delay between pressing print and actually printing. My overall score should be considered as a high 7 but not quite an 8. I know all my reviews seem pretty harsh but I won’t sugar-coat something that isn’t worthy of its score. The battery life, size and some functionality is the score-killer; otherwise it’s great and I would actually recommend this printer and the bigger XTL 500 if your budget will stretch far enough.