TSC is very well known for having a million and one different models of printers and Zebra wasn’t far off their tail before they did a cleanup of current models. Zebra have always been a reliable brand with prices you wouldn’t turn your nose up at. The game is getting intense though as prices are falling and new models are trying to fill a niche that is now a tiny slither, not to mention other brands wanting their share of the same already over-populated market.
Zebra has always had the attention of warehouses and courier systems as the printers are fast, affordable and get the job done right. So what does TSC have on Zebra? Let’s sum up this TSC DA200 really quickly before I get slightly more in depth. Get a Zebra GK420d, now remove the unpopular parallel port and take £60 off the price.
I’ll get my one complaint out the way first. It goes down to 1.5 IPS and thus suffers from a slightly stuttered print. It’s almost like the print head is out of calibration or not getting to it’s desired temperature properly. That being said, it’s a 200 DPI printer and it’s target audience is address and courier labeling. You might as well crank it up to full speed to get your labels printed and parcels out the door as quickly as possible. The quality doesn’t suffer to the point of being unreadable at high speed, or at least it didn’t when I tried. There’s no point running it slower than 2 IPS.
What do I mean by this? I’ll compare two Zebra printers in the same range as this: the Zebra GC420d and GK420d. Both of these are popular warehouse label printers and are direct thermal only. They both have gap sensors and black mark sensors but the GK is faster and is more expensive than the GC model, albeit by only £5. The TSC DA200 has the same spec as the GK420d but is smaller and 1/3 cheaper. What’s not to love?
Labels and receipt paper
Zebra consumables come in fantastic bulk boxes at discount prices like no other, but here’s a little secret, you can use them in the TSC DA200. Plus there’s a huge selection of label sizes to choose from. You’ll be saving some money after saving some money.
The Down Side
Support. Zebra offer a UK based technical support call centre. TSC have a form you can fill out. TSC will more than likely help you no matter where the labels are from, but you’ll have to be patient with the emails. Zebra will help you but if you’ve gone down the road of not using their labels, they’ll refuse to help you get going. I can see their reasoning behind that; if you buy their consumables the money goes into paying for support, they’ll want to get you going so you can buy more of their labels. It’s only fair.
For an extra £70 you can go from the TSC DA200 to the DA300. I personally think that 300 DPI on direct thermal is a little useless as the DT paper gives slightly fuzzy edges. If you wanted 300DPI from a Zebra machine you’d be looking at nearly £200 extra to upgrade from the GK420d to the GX430t which is the cheapest 300DPI printer they offer.
My honest advice would be if you know what you’re doing and want to save money, go for the TSC DA200. If you think you’re going to need some guidance, maybe it’s better to spend the extra on the Zebra GK420d so you can get the quicker technical support that’s open 5 days a week and only a phone call away. With either printer though I would recommend going for the Zebra labels as their bulk boxes are possibly the best prices going and we have many of the most common size ready for next day delivery.
Prices are correct at the time of writing this blog post. No zebras were harmed in the making of the above photos.