First things first. It's not full colour, so please don't get too excited. However, it still is a fairly exciting thing because this a 2 colour printer that doesn't require any ink, toner or ribbon. This is the first twin colour direct thermal printer from Brother in the QL range, and the first in the market it's aimed at. As I'm reviewing 2 very similar printers at the same time, I'll review mostly the QL-800 and then mention any differences with the QL-810W.
- 300 x 600 dpi print resolution
- 93 labels per minute (110 labels per minute on the QL-810W)
- Automatic Cutter
- 62mm wide print
- Prints black & red with DK-22251
- USB connection (and Wi-Fi on the QL-810W)
- Windows and Mac software included (downloadable Android & iOS app for the QL-810W)
The QL-810W is the faster printer, and is a little more convenient with the Wi-Fi option and ability to print from a smartphone or tablet computer. Normally these minor differences come with a major price increase, but as I'm typing this it's only a £20 difference, which isn't bad. The ability to print black and red sounds useful, but the choice of only 1 size of roll makes it a little limiting. As I type this the black and red on white is £1.71 per meter while the black on white is £0.42 per meter. That's more than 4 times the price! They've been sneaky with their pricing though by making the roll half the length so it only appears to be double the price. Not sure it's worth it in my opinion.
Using the printer
Loading the rolls of labels in the printer is just as easy as any other Brother QL printer. You lift the lid, drop the roll in (the correct way around of course), feed it through the front slot and close the lid. The software is the same P-Touch Editor that you'd use with any Brother label printer connected to a computer, whether you're using a Windows or Mac. It automatically detects the label roll size you've put in which means you can spend less time faffing around setting up your label size and more time actually making your label. On the subject of faffing around: when using the black and red on white
roll, it's not very intuitive on how to actually choose the colour red. To counteract this, you can set single characters and words in a textbox to be red instead of black in much the same sense of setting single characters and words bold or italic. Below is a scanned copy of a label printed with the QL-800.
When printing on normal labels, it's fast and clear. When printing with the black and red on white
roll it slows down quite a bit, but that's probably down to the direct thermal technology used in those rolls needing a slower speed. Black is nice and clear, but red prints at a slightly faded and patchy quality.
Features score a 9/10 because it's one of the best Brother QL printers in the range and probably the best for its price among competitors. I only shaved 1 point off of 10 because I still see a market in big companies for wired network devices over wireless. Usability would have been a 10 but standard Brother quirks with the software shaved a point off. An extra point comes off because the black and red on white tape is a little too expensive (not usability, I know) and wasn't very obvious on how to set the red colour in the software, unless you really know what you're looking for. Build quality is great, but some heavy handedness could damage the lid, which is normal with this kind of printer. Loading the labels is not as fiddly as other brands, but could still be improved for those with chunkier hands. Final score of 9/10 because you get a lot of printer for your money. As I type this the QL-700 (next model down) is only £5 cheaper! You may not need black and red on white very often, but I think spending the extra £5 is worth it just for the sample tape that's included.