In 2004 when my mother first started shopping with Lakeland stores, we were recommended to try Lakeland because they had a few gadgets for being able to print food labels, since we had just purchased a food vacuum sealer. We'd had the pens, the fancy tags that you tie on and so forth, but I took a sidestep when I found an electronic labeller machine on sale in their catalogue. We never thought about a machine but just an alternative to weak, sticky labels that failed to stick to the vacuum bags or pens that often dried out, despite claiming to be "freezer bag friendly." We even tried alternative measures such as harking back to my mum's outdated "Letraset" mechanical ribbon printer, because it was difficult to source the old plastic adhesive ribbons in several different colours and the plastic never really stuck to the bags, either! The Brother PT1250 Personal Labeller machine wasn't cheap and initially cost £99-95 from Lakeland. 2012 prices on EBay for this machine range from £50 to £75, but check that they come with a mains power adaptor at least as some sellers are notorious for losing it and you can't just use any adaptor you have lying around.
An electronic labeller device from most well known brands like Brother, Casio and Dymo tend to all use thermal printing which in turn feeds letters and numbers onto adhesive printable film by means of heat transference bonding. Sounds like something from Star Trek, doesn't it? Fear not, this isn't the kind of printer you'll ever zap your hands on, but it is a novel, more advanced approach to the old "stamp-a-staple-like-letter-per-second" with the Letraset model! Here you simply type in whatever name or numbers you want to print out and hit the "print" button before a tiny whirr of the Brother's motor can be heard and at the top of the machine, a little wisp of the adhesive print strip slowly emerges out the top, ready to be cut via the built in push down guillotine button and you have your tag!
Firstly though, the Brother P-Touch/PT-1250 was available on the market until 2005 whereupon it was replaced by a myriad of different models, a contrasting silver and blue model 1250"S" compared to the bright yellow duo dark blue PT1250. Another model that is similar but allows battery power as well as mains power is the PT1280 before Brother ascended into far more compact hand held models with PC/MAC installation and far more versatile features. Our Brother can fit into the palm of a hand but it is quite large for its age, measuring 15cm by 13m and a height of 6.5cm - it almost apes my square sandwich box in terms of its actual size but it is also made of thick PVC plastic and able to withstand knocks. It also comes with a very handy storage carry case as standard and contained within the sturdy box, the user manual, a plastic-stylo threader, space for 3 cassette ribbons, the machine itself and the mains cord power adaptor can all be stored together.
So the model here is outdated in terms of not having further PC/Mac compatibility - but, despite this model no longer available to buy on the high street, the Brother P-Touch PT1250 labeller is one of those machines that rarely crops up on EBay because of its stalwart reliability and many owners wishing to hold onto their original machine. I loved the idea of the Brother PT-1250 so much, it took me a while to track down several models available to me online until I decided on getting my very own - and it doesn't matter much to me that I can't use my computers to advance features - the beauty of having this portable product alone is that you can make up a label whenever you want and wherever you want, provided you have a mains power source.
The Brother P-Touch/PT-1250 has a little more involvement than just basic printing of labels. It has the facility of printing up to 180 dpi by 180 dpi, which makes for great clarity of the letters and they do turn out professional. When we went about labelling box files in our study, visiting friends thought we had bought the labels professionally! There are many options to consider in terms of the actual printing adhesive label types, a fact that we didn't know about until two years passed by with the Brother when we had run out of the original 3 tapes of white print label roll that originally came with the P-Touch 1250, and gave black lettering/numbering on the labels. The cassette ribbons mirror very much the style of "daisy wheel" print guns that you would find with old Smith Corona electric typewriters (mine is still in the garage!) and when lifting up the hatch on the rear base plate of the PT-1250 means all you do is line up the cartridge with the guide lines, and similar to an audio cassette (anyone remember them?), simply slot in the tape over the roller heads and then close up the door. The whole internal assembly is very well made and it isn't hard to fathom how to change print tapes over, let alone look at the user manual.
There are more than 7 types of print film available from white printing on black labels to colour options like blue, red, green, yellow, clear tape and even a stripey tape if the feeling takes you - but despite the colours available, the tape at the end of the day is of the laminating consistency, so they are very thin tapes rounding up to 1.2mm thickness, giving off an ultra thin "sticker" at the end of the Brother's performance. Individually the tapes cost between £12-99 and £14-99 although I've been lucky enough to source a seller on EBay who sells the tapes between the prices of £6-99 to £9-99 dependent on the colours, desired. The best seller online who isn't part of auction sites is that of www.staples.co.uk who charge £14-97 on average but their service is excellent and they have always delivered the products quickly.
However, the best part of the Brother P-Touch 1250 is just the simplicity of the controls. You get a full rubberised set of QWERTY keys displayed on its easy to see keyboard and the letters in bright yellow with blue surrounds and white makes it easy to type what you want printed and comes up on the LCD screen to confirm this. Other function keys are similarly well colour coded and there's a handy yellow dimpled grab section to the left of the machine that allows you to hold onto the Brother if you are using it on your lap to steady your fingers since it is very lightweight at just under 400 grams!
An additional set of decals on the main fascia then allow you to further change the size of the font to three different sizes such as small, medium and large and there are three other additional font sizes that make the letters very narrow, thick or thin. This is then confirmed on the LCD screen with permanent dashes to indicate what you have chosen on the fascia plastic and a symbol comes on the LED display to confirm what you have chosen. Within that though, you then have options to have normal printing, Italic or Bold, or a combination of the two. Vertical printing is available, Italic outline, Italic shadow, Mirror, Underline and Frame are further features to jazz up your wording/numbers too!
A rotary dial gives you instant access to all these font changes by allowing it to click through the options that flash up on the large LCD screen and allowing the Brother to save the last setting - making the use next time ultra speedy if you want the same style again. However different than the Brother is in terms of delivering different fonts, the basic default font is that of "Helsinki," and to the best part of clarity, the printing quality is excellent and is totally blot free due to the heat transference process, meaning you can grab the just printed strip the moment it is set to emerge.
Simply pressing a button to change the QWERTY keyboard into a numerical number pad can also do Numbers from 0 to 9 including common, generic symbols such as question marks, exclamation marks, commas, stars and the American number sign to endless options of multiples. The only downside to this is that the numbers have been multi-functioned on the top line of letters, so if you want to press "1" you'd have to press letter "A" and so forth. It can get confusing if you want to print of a series of numbers and find yourself tapping letters in the LCD screen instantly - but then forgetting to actually function the "number only" mode!
In use then, the Brother PT1250 shows very few weaknesses. It can be slow if you are in a hurry to print out labels, only managing 1cm of laminating strips per second but I do love the fact that the continuous strip can be continued, if say you're not happy with the default cutting slices of each strip that has been printed out. You can extend the Brother to keep printing as much of the adhesive ribbon as you want, and you can cut the strip at any time thanks to its built in slicer. So it's good that there is no restriction in place here, if say, you want to create a name tag, but stretch out your name to make the label look a bit more professional or unique.
In 2008 Brother changed the format of their TZ adhesive printer ribbons. Before the change, the plastic "stylo" threader you get with this machine is a very simple plastic tool that looks like a large plastic sewing machine needle (without points) that you insert the print ribbon into, which releases the backing tape off once the printable section you've programmed, emerges. This then gives you the opportunity to stick the printed label onto anything you desire, even though the labels are suitable for paper, card, plastics and harder materials, they won't stick to clothing, so buying this with the idea of clothing labels isn't a particularly good decision as the adhesive simply isn't flexible enough to sit on clothing fibres that move underneath. The good news is that the Brother labels are just fantastic for food bags, vacuum food bags and any kind of plastic bag you throw the labels at! Once they stick, they stick down forever, and they are relatively easy to peel off, leaving no sticky residue thereafter.
Now, the current Brother TZ ribbons have two strips of backing on them, which you bend the plastic into two and one strip comes off bit by bit. It's a bit like double sided sellotape once you get used to the concept, and I find it a lot faster than having to fish out the stylo-threader implement! The only downside is that the moment the backing tape comes off, the strips are liable to curl around because they've lost their strength. This is one reason alone to why my mother prefers using the stylo-threader, because the design of it avoids the tape from getting curled up in the first place!
Earlier this year though, our Brother suddenly stopped working, having chewed through so many tapes, my mother gave up on the idea of getting the machine repaired and for the 6 years of reliable, sterling service, we knew we had to get another Brother PT1250 again and set about looking for a replacement. Yet, whilst the tapes are expensive, they can last up to 6 months to a year depending on the amount of printing you give the Brother. Easy to use, easy to program, the Brother PT-1250 is worthy of considering if you are looking for an electronic laminating labeller machine and it is worthy of seeking out, if it does appear online. It's certainly a lot more efficient and quicker than our outdated mechanical Letraset printer! Another exclusive review for Dooyoo! Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2012