Product Review (February 2005)
DYMO - RhinoPRO 3000 Printer

DYMO is a name that many of us remember from the good old days of mechanical label makers. Interestingly enough, they still make them. Most of us who need to make labels have moved into the future using the modern thermal-based printers. DYMO has introduced the RhinoPRO series that includes three models (1000, 3000 and 5000), each priced incrementally higher starting from $50 and ending at $150. We reviewed the RhinoPRO 3000 priced at $100, which is designed for the professional residential installer. The 3000 comes in a bright orange housing, making it easy to locate in the vast clutter of tools and installation products. The removable impact-resistant rubber housing helps protect it from potential falls. The unit is powered by six "AA" batteries (not included), yet can also be used with the optional 9VDC/1.3A AC adapter (available for $24.99, SKU #15519) if preferred. Based on the input power requirements of the 3000, we decided to use a set of rechargeable NiMH batteries to see how long they last. The front panel of the 3000 has buttons logically placed with each number and letter positioned sequentially in order (not QWERTY). The blue buttons are used for label design and hot keys. The gray buttons are used for printing, navigation and numeric entry. The LCD display is easy to read and even comes with a backlight for using the unit in poorly lit areas. The upper right corner has a manual lever for cutting the label once it is printed.

Features
The RhinoPRO 3000 supports four font sizes (Small, Medium, Large and Extra-Large) and three different font styles (Normal, Italic and Outline). The text can be surrounded by a box or be underlined. The backlit LCD display holds up to thirteen characters, but the users can enter up to 99 character and/or spaces and scroll across the string of data. A predefined set of symbols is also included and may come in handy. Labels can be printed either horizontally or vertically and are easily accessed using the Hot Keys labeled NORMAL, FLAG, WRAP, HWRAP, VERT and DPANEL. Vertical wrap labels are printed in a fixed length of 1.5" and may contain up to five letters or numbers across, but no symbols. Horizontal printing does not have these limitations.

The text Hot Keys provide instant access to common names and are categorized by Location, Audio/Video, Voice/Data, Sec and Panel. Under each group of names a scroll bar to the right of the display shows your location in the long list. A total of 50 Location names, 46 Audio/Video names, 16 Voice/Data names, and 40 Sec (secondary) names are provided in the database.

Replacement Cartridges
One of the concerns people have with this type of product is the cost of the replacement cartridges. It's not uncommon for products such as low-end inkjet printers to cost barely more than the replacement ink. Luckily, these cartridges are not too costly and are priced between $16 and $18 depending on the type and size. Both 3/8" and 1/2" sizes are supported with this model. The unit comes with a 1/2" (12mm) M1300 Flexible Nylon Tape (18758) cartridge. We wanted to try out some of the available cartridges, but didn't have any on hand, so our review consisted of only the cartage included with the label maker.

Performance
The unit is reasonably sized and not too heavy. The non-slip rubber grip housing helps prevent the unit from slipping out of your hands. The buttons are large enough not to cause problems (at least for me) and the layout is logical and easy to follow. Some keys have secondary functions which are achieved by holding down the Function button. The hot-keys came in handy once you understand how to use them and will save you time in creating labels for specific applications (flagging, I/O panels, wire wraps, etc.). Having these was a good idea based on my experience with other label makers, where the user has to set up the label manually each and every time. We also liked the ability to save frequently used names whether they were already in the category list or completely unique to the user.

The LCD backlight is a nice feature, but since the buttons do not have any backlight capability, users will have trouble seeing what they are doing in the dark. However, since the LCD is difficult to see without good lighting conditions such as outdoors, users will benefit from it regardless. I found that in many cases indoor lighting was not good enough to see the LCD display clearly and the backlight certainly improved the display.

Battery life appears to be quite good from what we can tell. The unit has a hefty input power specification (9V/1.3A) printed on the power jack, but our measurements were considerable lower than this when we measured the battery current. The unit appeared to only require about 13mA while powered on and 26mA with the backlight illuminated. The power requirement jumped to around 100mA while printing. It is possible that the current requirement can be significantly higher at times, but based on the time our six rechargeable NiMH batteries (rated at 1800mAH) lasted, we thought rechargeables might be a good choice.

Conclusion
DYMO's RhinoPRO 3000 is a great printer product for installers and is reasonably priced considering the timesaving features built into the unit. The design offers a variety of printing options as well as the ability to save up to 25 custom label names in memory. The predefined label names grouped in different categories saves time. Audio and Home Theater users will love this unit, especially with the large number of cables most systems have to deal with. The ability to print both horizontally and vertically is a must with today's installations, which typically includes both A/V and network products. Customers are sure to appreciate the professional look of the labels. Best of all, the DYMO labels stay on the cables and don't fall off. Some of the other labels we have used in the past from other manufacturers produced nice looking labels, but they soon fall off the cables making them useless. This often occurred with flag-based labels. We were glad to see these labels do not suffer from this problem. In fact, according to the manufacturer, RhinoPRO tapes are specifically designed to attach to (and latch on to) curved, textured, and highly textured surfaces. We think the RhinoPRO 3000 is a great value and offers exceptional features for installers and home theater owners.

While the RhinoPRO 3000 has most of the features installers will need for their everyday labeling, the more expensive RhinoPRO 5000 has some significant improvements that may benefit some users. We didn't have one on hand for this review, but it appears to offer some significant capabilities. Namely, the unit supports five text sizes, tape sizes up to 3/4" and prints up to 12 characters for vertical wraps. In addition, the unit has an advanced wire gauge function that automatically sets up the label precisely based on the gauge or type of wire defined by the user. The RhinoPRO 5000 can also print Code 39 and Code 128 bar codes and meets ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A labeling standards. So depending on your labeling requirements in the field, DYMO should have you covered with either the 3000 or 5000. If both of these units are out of your price range, customers have the option of choosing the very affordable RhinoPRO 1000 for $50.

- Kevin Nakano


Review at a glance


DYMO - RhinoPRO 3000 Printer

Features

  • Hot keys make it simple to format labels.
  • Supports wire/cable wraps (vertical and horizontal).
  • Supports flagging, fixed length, vertical labels and distribution panels.
  • Text Hot Keys help label frequently-used locations and equipment.
  • 25 memory locations for storing labels.
  • Prints five font sizes, horizontally and vertically.
  • 13 character display.
  • Serialization of text and numerical information.
  • Backlit display for working in dimly lit environments.
  • Battery requirements: 6 AA batteries (not included).
  • Weighs less than one pound.
  • Package Contents

  • Includes RhinoPRO 3000 unit.
  • Impact-resistant rubber bumper.
  • One 1/2" (12 mm) wide flexible nylon tape.
  • User Manual

  • Company Information
    DYMO Corporation
    44 Commerce Road
    Stamford, CT 06902-4561
    Presales: 800-426-7827, ext. 2

    SKU: 15605
    Source: Manufacture Supplied
    MSRP: $99.99

    AC Power Adapter
    SKU: 15519

    URL: www.dymo.com/industrial

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