The Dymo LabelManager 260P is lightweight, fits snugly in your hand at 120 x 173 x 62mm, and is inviting to use. If you are a ‘qwerty’ keyboard orientated user then the alphabetically laid out keys of printers like this can initially slow down your typing, but how little this matters when there is so much compensation in the printer’s overall ease of use. The 260P uses the D1 range of cassettes which comprises Standard, Flexible Nylon and Permanent Polyester material, and can print up to two lines of text on 9mm and 12mm labels (single line only on 6mm and 9mm labels) in fixed font steps of 8pt, 12pt, 18pt, 24pt, 28pt and 32pt. The printer auto-detects the insertion of a cassette even when it is switched off, and prompts you (when next switched on) to indicate which of the three label sizes (6, 9 & 12mm) has been inserted. Obviously the narrower the label then the smaller is the maximum font size you can use, such that 6mm label accommodates only 8pt font, and 9mm label accommodates 8pt, 12pt and 18pt. Nevertheless, Dymo LabelManager labels find use in a wealth of situations.
Three font types are available, these being: Basic, Serif, and Fun, a range which loosely equates to the Windows fonts: Arial, Times New Roman, and Comic Sans. With a couple of keystrokes, six font styles become available, these being: Normal, Bold, Italic, Outline, Shadow, and Vertical, the latter rotating the characters individually rather than whole words. Equally easy to select is the range of ready-made oblong borders which are best described as: straight lined, rounded-ends, jagged/torn-off ends, pointed-ends, curly edged parchment, curly-ended banner, floral ends, and call-out shape, plus, of course, simple underline. As ever, with label printers these days, you can also print mirror image. All text may be aligned left, right, or centre, with no need for inverse printing because if you want white text on a black background you simply choose D1 cassette 720610 white-on-black tape (or whatever colour combination suits).
The printer provides quick access to a good range of symbols including several currency symbols, international characters and diacriticals (accents) plus an extended Latin character set. The clip art range runs to approximately 100 handy images. I quite like the fact that the keypad is purely alphanumeric, by which I mean there is no Alt key for accessing punctuation marks and currency symbols etc., these being accessed quickly enough from a menu. This approach avoids overloaded key legends in which you have, for example, the letter ‘L’ flanked by a question mark and an ampersand and have to hold down a second key to select which you want. After all, in label making, how often do you need a question mark, asterisk or apostrophe? Should you wish to insert previously used text you can do this as long as the label on which it was used has been saved in memory. This feature resembles ‘AutoText’ in Microsoft Word except that you cannot copy parts of previous labels — it has to be the whole label and will include symbols et al. However, if a phrase or fragment of text is used frequently you could create and save a label to act as a container for it. Unfortunately you would not be able to make a large library of such texts because the memory is limited to nine labels. Nevertheless, it’s is a nice touch.
The Dymo 260P is supposed to make fixed length labels too, a feature by which it adjusts the font size automatically to fit a predetermined label length, but in this I found disappointment. Put simply, in the model I had for review the feature did not work. Enquiries revealed that Dymo developers have experienced a problem with early models and we can only hope that later batches ‘do what it says on the tin’. The printer has no USB interface so an online upgrade when the bug is fixed will not be possible for existing models but I doubt the absence of this feature will bother many users, especially as there is another feature called Print Preview which gives an instant display of label length.
The printer is powered by a lithium-ion battery of the kind used in mobile phones and laptop computers and is capable of printing up to two cassettes worth of labels between charges. It is supplied with a charger which, despite its appearance, is not an adaptor and cannot power the printer directly. In other words, you can use the printer while it is on charge but not from the charger alone. With no battery fitted it will do everything except print, and any attempt to print without a battery will produce the message: ‘Battery Failure’. Once again there is compensation. In cold weather, while the battery is charging, the keypad warms your fingers nicely! The printer shuts down automatically after 2 minutes of inactivity, which can seem a bit impatient if composing your label involves looking up information, but when this happens the label is saved and reappears the moment you switch back on. If you shut down manually, however, the displayed label is not saved automatically.
The LabelManager 260P has a large, 2-line LCD (60 x 30mm display) which provides an informative print preview facility. If the preview is too long for the screen then it automatically scrolls. You cannot control the scroll rate, or pause it, but the loop speed is sufficiently slow to scrutinise anything you might put on labelmanager labels. The handy little 260P printer has much in common with other portable labellers in that you can print up to nine copies of a label in one go at moderate speed and detach them using a manual cutter. However, one difference is found on the keyboard where most curiously shaped numeral keys give the printer an endearing visual quality but would frustrate someone with plump fingers.