Brother Battle: New E550W vs Old 7600

As you can probably tell from the cheesy picture I put together, this is a showdown between the old Brother P-Touch 7600 and its replacement, the PT-E550W. Below is a table of all the important details to compare between the two models. Below the table is an explanation of the differences.

Features PT-7600 (Discontinued) PT-E550W (Current)
TZe Tape Sizes 6, 9, 12, 18 & 24mm 3.5, 6, 9, 12, 18 & 24mm
HSe Tubing Sizes None 5.8, 8.8, 11.7, 17.7 & 23.6mm
Print Resolution 180 DPI 180 DPI
Max. Print Height 18mm on 24mm tape 18mm on 24mm tape
Max. Print Lines 7 on 24mm tape 7 on 24mm tape
Print Speed 10mm per second Up to 30mm per second
Hot Keys 1 6
Screen (LCD) 2 line backlit single character 2 line backlit full dot matrix
Cutter Manual with pause Automatic full and part cut
Connectivity USB USB & WiFi
Memory 2,000 characters 18,000+ characters & 99 files
Software Mac & Windows Android, iOS, Mac & Windows
Fonts 1 14
Symbols 164 384
Barcodes 9 9
Labels Types Normal, Vertical, Rotate, Cable Wrap, Cable Flag, Port, Panel1, Panel2, Flag Normal, Vertical, Rotate, Cable Wrap, Cable Flag, Faceplate, Heat Shrink Tube, Patch Panel, Punch Down Block

What means what?

Firstly you'll notice the TZe tapes sizes are the same between them with the addition of 3.5mm to the new E550W. I have no explanation for why the 7600 couldn't do 3.5mm tapes. HSe Tubing: Heat shrink should be self explanatory; the 7600 doesn't do them because the HSe tapes were launched a few years after the printer. Only the E550W and the E300 will print onto the HSe tapes and the E550W will print on all sizes. The print resolution is the quality of the print. This means that for every inch of print there is 180 pixels along the line. 200 is about the standard on desktop printers, 300 is very good quality, and 600 is very rare but probably the best quality you'd get from a label printer. The print height fluctuates depending on the size of the tape used. On the largest tape the maximum print height is 18mm leaving 3mm of space before the edge of the label. A reasonable amount of space would be left for each size of tape you use. The print lines are the maximum number of lines of text you can print. 7 for 24mm, 5 for 18mm, 3 for 12mm and 9mm, 1 for 6mm and 3.5mm. To fit more lines of text, the font would have to go so small it would be unreadable, therefore it's capped. The print speed is how fast it's printed. The value changes on the E550W depending on whether it's plugged into the mains, printing on a label or printing on heat shrink tubing. The keyboard layout is a huge usability bonus. ABCD keyboard have been used in the past for the main reason of making one model for most of the world. QWERTY is easier to use as most people are used to using a computer, tablet or smartphone keyboard which has the same layout. This does make manufacturing different as they will now have to cater for different countries such as France who use the AZERTY layout. Hot keys are the buttons that allow you to quickly and easily switch label type (cable wrap, flag, etc.) without fumbling through menus. The screen is a big deal. The E550W has a slightly larger screen but it's also a full dot matrix which allows you to do things you can do on the 7600 such as preview font styles and preview the entire label design before printed. Both of these printers have cutters but they work in very different ways.

The 7600 is a big button you push on the side to cut the label. The E550W actually has two blades: one to cut, one to part cut. Part cut is also known as kiss cut. It cuts the label but not the backing paper making it easier and tidier to print a lot of labels in one go and peel them off the strip one at a time. The pause on the 7600 is where it waits for you to cut the label before printing the next one. The connectivity is how other devices connect to it. USB on the 7600 is only for transferring templates to it. The E550W has WiFi to print from a mobile device running Android or iOS such as a tablet or phone. The USB on the E550W is for printing directly as well as transferring templates and databases. Memory is the built-in memory for storing label templates. Brother said the 7600 has a memory of up to 2,000 characters but this doesn't include any images you might want to import.

The E550W is over 18,000 characters and up to 99 files in total such as images and databases. The P-Touch Editor software is available for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac computers on both printers. The E550W as has an Apple iOS and Google Android app for connecting wirelessly to the printer.

Fonts should be fairly self explanatory. The 7600 only has one font which is Helsinky. The E550W has 14 fonts including Brussels (a Times New Roman style) and Germany (a fancy calligraphy style). Symbols are all the little icons and pictures including brackets and mathematical symbols. For the full graphical list of all the symbols for these printers, please see their user manuals by clicking the following links: P-Touch 7600 - page 35 | PT-E550W - page 58. Both printers can produce 9 different types of barcodes. They'll do the common CODE39 and CODE128, retail EAN and UPC, plus a couple of the more rare barcodes such as CODABAR. For an example of all the label types, please see the little video below of the PT-E550W producing different labels for different applications.