Product Review (July 2007)
Brother - P-Touch PT-9500PC Industrial Label Maker

Brother is well known for their P-Touch labelers with a variety of models available for hobbyists as well as professionals. The new PT-9500PC is a versatile industrial label maker designed to produce fully custom labels from a PC or Mac through a USB connection. The easy-swap tape cassettes allow users to print laminated labels with standard or “industrial strength” adhesive (twice the standard adhesive strength) in a variety of fonts and styles. Bar codes, various text designs and even pictures are now possible with the PT-9500PC. Many of the standard labels fail to stay attached to rough or non-flat surfaces over time. Installers can now depend on labels that stick without falling off these difficult surfaces. The PT-9500PC also includes an auto tape cutter with a “crack and peel” function, making it easy to separate the backing from the label. You will spend considerably less time trying to remove the backing with this feature, especially when printing many labels. The P-Touch Editor software enables users to create and store their custom designs for future use. The unit includes one 1-1/2" black on white TZ (26.2m) tape, serial and USB interface cables, CD-ROM with label design software, label templates and drivers, AC power cord, separator stick and catch tray.

While the PT-9500PC facilitates powerful printing abilities, the P-Touch Editing software is what makes it so easy. Simply select the tape height and create the label you need for your application. Users can also select the type of media they are targeting such as floppy discs, VHS or MiniDV tapes, or any of the common flash media products (CompactFlash, SmartMedia, SD Memory or Memory Sticks). Standard fonts and drawing tools (boxes, circles, lines and freehand) allow the user to create a whole array of custom labels. You can even pre-design your labels with your company logo or other graphics, import your database, and print it all using the software. Support for Microsoft Access and Excel as well as CSV file formats can be used with the database feature. We were able to create labels as long as 39.37-inches. The History tab keeps track of all of your creations making it quick to go back and use previously created lables. Frequently used label designs can be saved and recalled with ease. The latest version of the editor (4.2.210) released on 05/31/2007 is available on the Brother's website.

The PT-9500PC occupies little space with a modest 4-1/2" by 7-1/2" footprint. If you plan to use different types of tapes in the unit, it would be wise to place it where easy access to the top is available. If only one type of tape is used, it can be placed on a shelf that is as little as 5-1/2" in height. The front of the unit has buttons for power and the cutter. The power light will flash when data is being transferred to the unit from the PC. If an error occurs with the unit during printing, the red error indicator illuminates. The front part of the panel is designed to flip down and support the collection tray. This is designed to catch the lables as they exit the unit. The PT-9500PC operates quietly and only the feeding mechanism and cutter can be heard when printing. The top button opens the cover to expose the replaceable tape cartridge.

Tape Access
Changing the TZ or AV (Avery) tapes is quick and easy thanks to the flip up cover. Simply press the release button and the tape can be popped out and replaced in seconds. It is important to keep the lid closed to prevent dust from accumulating onto the printer head. A cotton swab can be used to clean both the printer head as well as the cutter when needed. The P-Touch Editing software will automatically set the tape width to the available size when launched. This is a nice feature that I just happened to notice when changing tapes. Brother has a wide variety of lables ranging from 1/4" to 1-1/2" widths with different foreground and background colors (including transparent). One of the coolest features of the PT-9500PC is the auto cutter with the “crack and peel” function. Each time a label is printed, a slit is made on the surface that allows the printed label to be easily pulled away from the backing.

Rear Panel
The back of the unit has connections for both USB and serial interfaces with all cables included for maximum flexibility. Only USB 1.1 is supported with this unit since high data bandwidth is not required. A USB ID switch is provided and allows for flexible printer configuration when multiple PT-9500PCs are being used on a single machine. According to the manual, this setting will affect how the computer recognizes multiple PT-9500PC printers. The external power adapter plugs into the back and is designed to accept a wide input voltage range (100-240VAC) for compatibility with most countries. The adapter output voltage is rated at 24VDC/2.5 amps.

Performance
Our unit came with a few Industrial Series TZ tapes for the review. The 3/4" Flexible ID Tape (TZFX241) is designed for non-flat surfaces such as cables and wires and has strong adhesive to prevent it from losing grip. This tape also works well when flagging wires. The 1" Extra Strength Adhesive Tape (TZ-S251) works well in harsh environments where textured and painted surfaces needs labeling. Brother offers a wide range of tapes with different sizes and colors for a variey of applications. The printer uses standard TZ label catridges used on many existing models, so availablity is not an issue.

We printed a variety of labels for our home theater wiring, many of which had custom images placed on them for easy recognition and identification. In poor lighting and difficult to reach areas, this can make a difference. Many of the less expensive portable labeling units on the market do not offer labels with strong adhesives and many of them come off the surface in short time.

Conclusion
The Brother PT-9500PC is a flexible and powerful printer for those looking to do more than just printing simple labels. Full graphic support and database integration give this machine the ability to produce professional lables for a wide variety of applications. The 360 dpi/384 dot print head offers excellent resolution with labels designed to last and stay attached to surfaces. Professional installers will really appreciate the flexility and ease of printing labels using their laptop or PC. This is by far the best labeler we have used and if your budget can accommodate it (~$250 street), you won't be dissapointed with the performance.

- Kevin Nakano






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Review at a glance


Brother - P-Touch Computer Label Printer

Features

  • Housing Dimensions: 4.6" x 5.9" x 7.5"
  • Housing Weight: 2.6 lbs
  • Housing Color: Silver/Blue
  • Cutter: Auto (full + crack and peel)
  • AC Adapter: Input: 100-240, 50/60 Hz, Output: 24VDC, 2.5 Amps
  • Tape Technology: Thermal Transfer
  • Tape Material: Laminated
  • Tape Family: TZ, AV
  • Tape Sizes: 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1 1/2"
  • Tape Length: 26.2'
  • Print Resolution: 360 dpi
  • Print Speed: 20 mm / sec
  • Interface: USB & Serial
  • Warranty: 1 year limited

Package Contents

  • Included Items: One 1-1/2" black on white TZ (26.2m) tape
  • Serial and USB interface cables
  • CD-ROM with label design software
  • Label templates and drivers
  • AC power adapter and cord
  • Separator stick and catch tray

Software

  • Number of Fonts: TrueType
  • Font Styles: All True Type installed on your computer
  • Number of Styles: 64
  • Types of Styles: Normal, Bold, Italic, Underline, Special (Shadow Light, Shadow, Horizontal, Outline, Surround, Frame Out Invert) Combinations of Bold, Italic, Underline plus special effects
  • Built-in Symbols: 1379 for Windows and 870 for Mac®
  • Max. Print Height: 27.1 mm
  • Point Sizes: Computer Dependant
  • Label Length Setting: Yes (.17" - 39.37")
  • Maximum Print Lines: 16
  • Multi - Block: N/A
  • Memory: Computer Dependant
  • Text Framing: Yes
  • Barcode: Yes
  • Bar-codes (Stand-alone mode): N/A
  • Bar-codes (connected to computer): Code 39, UPC-A, UPC-E, 1-2/5, EAN-8, EAN-13, EAN-128, Code 128, Codabar, ISBN-2, ISBN-5, Laser Bar-code, Postnet, QR Code, PDF417
  • Multi-copy Print: Up to 5,000 copies
  • Horizontal Alignment: L / C / R / J
  • Mirror Printing: Yes
  • Text Insert: Yes
  • Vertical Printing: Yes
  • Rotate Printing: Yes
  • Auto Incrementation: Alpha / numeric
  • Auto Templates: Yes
  • Download data to unit: No
  • Database Printing: Yes
  • Snapper function: Yes
  • Date/Time Stamp: Yes
  • Operating System: Win 95, NT 4.0, 98, 98SE, Me, 2000, XP
  • (PC) Minimum RAM memory: 64MB
  • (PC) Available hard disk space: 70MB
  • (PC) Connectivity: USB or serial
  • (Mac) Operating System: Mac OS 8.6 - 9.x, OS 10.2 - 10.2.6
  • (Mac) Minimum RAM memory: 24MB
  • (Mac) Available hard disk space: 100MB
  • (Mac) Connectivity: USB
  • Model Highlights: History Function

Company Information
Brother International
100 Somerset Corporate Blvd.
Bridgewater, NJ 08807-0911

Phone: 1-908-704-1700
Fax: 1-908-704-8235

Source: Manufacture Supplied
U
PC Code: 012502607267
MSRP: $299.99

URL: http://www.brother-usa.com/PTouch/

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