The Brady TLS2200 was discontinued a while ago, but it has finally been replaced. Now for even better news: you can use almost all of your old labels with the new printer. Take a look at the new printers side-by-side.
|Size||108 x 102 x 292mm||107 x 106 x 328mm|
|Screen||2-line black/white||Multi-line full colour backlit touchscreen|
|Keyboard||ABC with function keys||QWERTY with function keys|
|Print resolution||203 DPI||300 DPI|
|Print speed||12mm per second||33mm per second|
|Material loading||Standard fiddly loading||Wide loading bay and dedicated ribbon cartridge|
|Max print length||1370mm||1016mm|
|Connectivity||Serial (USB with adaptor)||USB, USB Host, Wi-Fi (on selected models)|
|Barcodes||Yes||CODE 39 & 128|
|Symbols||44 on keypad||Over 450 industry + downloadable|
Loading the printer
In-depth tourThe colour screen gives you a full example of the label you're about to print. We call this a WYSIWYG ("wizz-e-wig") design, which is an abbreviation for what you see is what you get. This reduces wastage of labels by making it easy to get the design correct first time instead of the trial and error routine you can run into with other cheaper printers. The touchscreen display is possibly a bit of a gimmick in my opinion. As much as all of the menus are displayed on-screen, I found it just as easy to navigate around them with the arrow keys, using the enter button for select, and backspace to go back. You also can't use the touchscreen to move objects, nor can you use it to select text, but there's more on selecting text in the Quirks section below. My unit came with the QWERTY keyboard layout with the numbers on two rows at the top. All the keys have additional characters that can be accessed using the FN (function) key. These additional characters are ones that Brady think are a must-have for the electrical and data industry, but I can think of a couple better symbols to have quick access to instead of the 3 different phone symbols. You can also insert 2 macros for the current time and date, so you will always get the time and/or date when the label was printed. The keyboard is tough, rubber, and has a nice clicky feel so you know you've pressed it enough. The keys are tall and narrow, but this doesn't mean it's difficult to type on. The legends on them are clear and easy to read. When you remove the ribbon, you can clearly see that the printer has a solid all-metal skeleton which most likely plays an important part to the drop-proof characteristics Brady are implementing into more and more of their mobile printers. The black rubber-coated yellow plastic shell is solid but forgiving. Holding it isn't a task, but I have noticed that the top half doesn't line up correctly with the bottom half. The battery door is easy to remove and easy to put back. The label door can also be removed, replaced and is apparently a spare part. On the top side of the back and at the very bottom is a loop to attach the adjustable hand strap. At the top of the back there are 4 small female screw threads which are for attaching the optional magnet mount. Below that in the very middle is a larger thread which looked familiar. I removed the shoe from the camera in my studio with it's included thumbscrew, and managed to quickly and securely attach the printer to a tripod, which was both weird and useful. I'm going to find out the exact purpose of this, but I can see people possibly using a cheap camera tripod with this printer where it might be used and shared in an area where there's no tables to keep it on between uses.
Using the printerUsing the printer is quick and easy. Everything is where you'd expect it to be. It starts up in less than 4 seconds (beat that, Dymo). Designing your label is a piece of cake with instant access to serialisation, only 2 button presses to insert a barcode, and over 400 symbols in 21 labeled categories. The printer has a memory which is not only to save templates to, but also a history of printed items; so be careful what you print because it looks like you can't clear it (possible data protection or security issue there). Transferring data onto the printer using a USB memory stick was easy. Probably easier than doing it through a USB cable (which I didn't try) as you probably need to install software and drivers. Transferring a graphic onto the printer was rather painful as the image need to be smaller than 2 inches square (192px x 192px) and it also needs to be only black and white. If it's so much as 1 pixel too large, it won't transfer. I did let our sales staff loose with it for a short while, and it appears that this printer isn't all that obvious as say a Brother P-Touch E550W. I guess they're more used to desktop and the more simpler cartridge-style handhelds printers. I personally don't think it's too complex, but everything's easy once you know how.
There are a few odd things with this printer which I found that I thought are worth mentioning. Removing an unfinished roll of labels: it knows when the lid is open, you then press feed once to back-feed, unlock the ribbon, and pull the labels out the rest of the way by hand. If you press feed again, it'll feed the labels forward, and then you can't get them out without cutting the labels. If you'd prefer to save some of the labels you can keep the lid open, lock the ribbon, [step 1] turn the printer off and on again, [step 2] press feed, and repeat step 1 and 2 until the labels are at a point where they can be freed by unlocking the ribbon, and finally pulled the rest of the way out by hand. The reason you can't just pull the labels out by hand without back-feeding it first is because they go at quite a sharp angle inside the printer which could cause a jam if forced through. Selecting text: you can't select text using the touchscreen. You can select text by hold shift and using the arrow keys. When selecting text, it sometimes fails at selecting the first character. Selecting text is useless and more of a token gesture, as once it's selected, you can't do anything with it; you can't copy, delete, overwrite, change its properties, or anything.
There's a button on the second from bottom row which has a symbol that is usually used for information (a lowercase i in a circle), which I thought would only show information about the materials loaded in the printer. What it actually does is show a list of international letters in both upper and lowercase, in alphabetical order, which you can scroll through and insert into your label design. I thought this was rather quirky as it's pretty much a mislabelled button. If you type some text, either a word of sentence, then navigate the cursor somewhere within the text string (either using the arrow keys or tapping on the screen), then press the enter button to put the trailing data on a new line, you can't use backspace to put it back onto the previous line. You need to delete the entire lower line of text. You can't even get round this by deleting some of the lower text. I feel this one is actually a fault in the system that Brady will hopefully fix in a firmware update.