Need Garden Plant Labels? – Brother GL-100

The Brother GL100 garden plant labels hand-held printer is designed primarily for horticulturists and gardeners but is also useful as a general purpose home and office labeller. The GL100 can print on three widths of label: 6mm, 9mm and 12mm from Brother’s TZ range of tape cartridges. These cartridges automatically identify themselves to the printer when inserted and produce labels that are resistant to sun and rain, and can withstand temperatures from -80°C to +150°C. Humidity, abrasion, oil and most chemicals are also withstood. Apart from the regular black print on white label the range includes options such as fluorescent and transparent finish (standard laminated range) and matt finish, extra strong adhesive, and flexi ID in the specialist non-laminated range. Standard tapes have a length of eight metres.

The only fonts available are Helsinki and Oklahoma, these coming in three basic sizes (height) with a further two settings which expand character width. Up to two lines of text may be printed, the font size obviously being reduced as necessary. The GL100 can also print vertically to give upright labels, although this consumes loads of label. To make your labels really interesting you can print them in various styles such as shadow, outline, italic, bold (and combinations thereof) plus mirror image (for transparent tape) with a choice of four decorative borders (called frames). The choice of effects comprises plain with rounded corners, curly ended banner, rough hewn wood, and vine, none of which can be used with vertical text. For some reason it is in this section that you find text Underline. A good range of accented characters is provided, including umlauts and ligatures etc.

The GL100 differs from the GL200 in the calling up of accented characters. In the GL100 the required character must be inserted entirely from the library rather than invoking the accent from the character itself, but shortcuts make this process very quick. Text can be aligned using Tabs extending to a maximum distance of 100mm, and for centralising text on the label there are three equalised margin settings available from a function called Tape Margin. The left-hand margin is marked with a colon to show where to cut your label and the right-hand margin locates correctly to be cut by the internal cutter (manual). Labels may be printed to predefined lengths irrespective of text content, plus there are six Auto-Format lengths for labelling such commonplace objects as file tabs, CD cases and video cases. All functions have shortcut keys, and up to nine copies of each label may be printed at a time. The keyboard layout is alphabetical as opposed to ‘qwerty’ and the LCD displays up to seven characters (plus cursor) of height 5mm across one line. These characters have a resolution which is unhelpful when selecting a symbol but the print quality vindicates this. These symbols are accessed by pressing the Symbols key which displays the character range divided into 9 groups. Repeatedly pressing this key increments through the groups, whilst the left/right arrow keys increment through the symbols themselves. Punctuation marks are not included on the keyboard (apart from period and comma) and must be accessed from the library. This is a small irritation.

The printer may be powered from a mains adaptor (Model AD24ES) or alternatively, to give it portability, six AAA cells. Neither of these are supplied. The case incorporates a through-hole to accommodate a loop (also not supplied) so that the printer can be attach to your belt for convenience. Two further optional accessories exist; a replacement blade for the integral manual cutter (TC-5) and a tape separator tool to expedite peeling off the backing paper. Print speed is about 10 mm/sec. and print quality is of a resolution which gives very slightly stepped edges to character with slopes, but the finish is still very acceptable. Unlike the GL200 there is no date or time stamp facility but there is the capacity to store up to nine commonly used text strings in memory. Alas barcodes cannot be printed, but very simple serial numbering is possible enabling an increment of one step per label. A useful feature of the display is Preview which scrolls through everything you have typed then displays the length of the resulting label. This shows only the text in one continuous line, with no styling, but is nevertheless very handy. Another useful feature is ‘chain’ printing, which is another name for printing more than one copy of a label with control over the margins between them. With a little patience it is possible to make a label with more than one font and style. This is done by not using the cutter and thereby, in effect, producing two labels end-to-end. When doing this, to avoid premature cut-off it is necessary to apply feed before cutting the final label, and herein lies a small niggle. There is no Feed button. To feed out blank label you must press the F key and scroll through the options, or press the F key with the appropriate shortcut key, followed by the Enter key. In the absence of a CD I think the instructions are a bit minimal, these being printed on a single sheet, yet although they seem a bit abstract at first sight they are just about adequate.

Certainly you can have a lot of fun with this printer, especially with its interesting combinations of character colour versus tape colour, borders, font styles and symbols, all of which allow artistic pot plant labelling, and labelling of seed trays, pesticide/fertiliser containers, storage racks and a host of other objects.