Brother GL-200 Label Printer Review

The Brother GL-200 Garden Label Printer (now discontinued) is designed primarily for horticulturists and gardeners (although it can be used as a general purpose domestic labeller) so if your potting shed is a bit of a muddle, the contents of that rusty biscuit tin on the top shelf a mystery, your tools rack in disarray, and your greenhouse liable to sprout something unexpected, then you might perceive a need to apply some labels. If you do, this printer could be the one for you.

The GL200 can print on three widths of Printer Labels, these being: 6mm, 9mm and 12mm (from Brother’s TZ range of tape cartridges) and they are all resistant to fading in sun and rain, also to temperatures ranging from -80oC to +150ºC (which means they can be used in outer space), humidity, abrasion, oil and chemicals. Apart from the obvious options of black print on white label etc. the range includes such variations as fluorescent and transparent backing (standard laminated range) and matt finish, strong adhesive type, and flexi ID in the specialist non-laminated range.

These ranges allow interesting combinations of character colour versus tape colour to make for jazzy labelling of your plant pots, seed trays, pesticide/fertiliser containers, storage racks and whatever else.

To make your labels even more interesting you can print them in various styles such as shadow, outline, italic, bold (and combinations thereof) and even in a choice of five fancy borders. Ooh, what fancy borders, I hear you ask. Well, there’s a banner with curly ends, a sweet wrapper, a callout, a wooden plank and a rounded rectangle.

The standard tapes have a length of eight metres so they’ll print a good few labels before reaching the Autumn of their years. The printer may be powered from a mains adaptor (Model AD24) or alternatively, to give it portability, six AAA cells (neither of which supplied).

The case is designed to accommodate a belt loop, so if your pocket is too small for the printer you can dangle it at your hip while out and about. Very fashionable.

Two further optional accessories exist; a replacement cutter blade (TC-5) and a tape separator tool — which is very handy for real men, who have short fingernails.

The keyboard is alphabetical as opposed to the ‘qwerty’ layout of a computer so if you are a typist you’ll be rescuing the occasional misplaced finger. The display accommodates up to 12 characters, each 6mm high, in just one line. These characters are only 5 x 7 pixels which can be unhelpful when selecting some of the 83 special symbols available.

These symbols are accessed by pressing the Symbols key which displays the character range divided into 13 groups. Repeatedly pressing this key increments through the groups, while the left/right arrow keys increment through the symbols themselves.

Punctuation marks, not being included on the keyboard, are accessed using the same key, which means that the label in the photograph needed this process to produce the comma.

An accented character is obtained by typing the character itself then pressing the Accents key repeatedly until the required accent appears above it. The only font available is Helsinki, there being three basic sizes (each with three levels of character compression) printable in up to two lines of text, mirror image if required for transparent tape. The GL200 can also print vertically for upright labels.

Print speed is 10 mm/sec at a resolution of 180 dots per inch, which gives you about 64 dots across a 12mm tape, making the sloped edges of characters slightly stepped but not unsightly. A manual tape cutter is incorporated for detaching labels once printed, and this incorporates a sensor which reports an error should it not retract fully after a cut. After all, long service can cause any label cutter to become clogged with adhesive residue.

Date and time stamping is available from a single keystroke. Setting up the clock/calendar is achieved, along with most other features, by pressing the Function (F) key and scrolling through the options using left/right arrow keys.

All very easy and not too time consuming once you are familiar with the layout. Once set, the clock keeps time even with no batteries or adaptor. Equally indelible is the 300 character (9 label) memory.

There is no facility for printing barcodes but very simple serial numbering is possible, which allows a single digit to increment from 0-9. A useful feature, for when text on the label exceeds the capacity of the display, is a thing called Preview.

This scrolls through everything you have typed and then displays the length of the resulting label. Another useful feature is ‘chain’ printing, which is a fancy name for printing more than one copy of each label. Chain printing gives you control over the margins each side of the text and consequently the length of each label, a semicolon between each label indicating where to cut. A less useful feature is the absence of a Feed button.

To feed out blank label you must press the F key and scroll through the options. In the absence of a CD I think the instructions are a bit minimal, these being a flimsy leaflet, and the directions seem somewhat abstract at first sight, but everything you need to know is there somewhere. Frankly, if the GL200 doesn’t have you chuckling when you’re alone in your potting shed, nothing will.