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I can recall the old dymo my mum had - you know the ones where the black tape was clipped onto one side and fed through. Then turn the wheel to select the letter and press the clicker to emboss the tape then repeat with the next letter. Whilst there was nothing wrong with these the labels always looked a bit cheap and nasty as well as taking a long time. Well technology has moved on and now with this much neater labels can be produced quickly and easily.
This item cost me £29.99 from an online stationary company (name available on request), however, I have now seen it on sale for £17.53 directly from Dymo (typical isn't it)
What is in the pack?
The label maker is a reasonable size with a good sized screen (13 characters) but the lettered buttons are perhaps a little small. Whilst these buttons are fine for my dainty (for a man) fingers those with larger fingers or those with arthritis may find this a bit of a problem. There is also a single white paper label tape which is 4m in length so this is enough for many labels.
Clipped into the inside of the lid of the tape housing is a print head cleaner. This can be kept there for safe storage if, like me, you are always losing things like this.
The instruction manual provided is also nice and clear as is the warranty cards. If you register the item within 14 days of purchase you get a free 2 year warranty. I know this is pretty standard these days but if it is going to get a lot of use it is well worth it.
Whilst you can use a mains adapter to power this unit you have to buy this separately. Alternatively you can use 4xAA batteries (not supplied). The batteries are, at the moment, my favoured method of powering it. You can buy a mains adapter for £28.79 from the same company I bought the machine from but you can probably find one cheaper elsewhere.
If you are going to use this to make labels for files in an office and it gets daily use then an adapter may be a good investment. I do feel that for the occasional home use the battery method is the best as you can always take the batteries out when it is not in use and you don't have another adapter in the draw to get all tangled up with the others.
The unit is heavier than it initially looks but some of this will be the batteries and it is not like carrying a brick and it does fit well in your hand. Although it is just as easy to use for both left and right handed people up to pressing the 'print' button I think the right handed have a slight advantage after as the label does come out on the right hand side.
Setting it up is fairly easy and installing the tape is easily done and does not require any fiddly lifting of x, pushing of y etc. which many things appear to have these days. After that and inserting the batteries you can set the size of the letters (5 sizes to choose from) I tend to stick with the default size as it is just easier and whether you want upper or lower case. There are also a set of 'special' characters you can use such as mathematical symbols and the Greek alphabet. International characters such as accents can be used simply by holding down the letter key and holding it until it scrolls through to the one you want so adding the umlaut etc. is nice and easy.
I am used to a QWERTY keyboard, as most of us are, so I was a little put off with the alphabetical order keyboard but this is a very minor gripe.
One thing I like about this is that you can do a two row label so you can fit twice as much on the same length of the tape. The 'style' of lettering can be changed from normal to italic and also so you can have just an outline of the letters (useful for multi-coloured labels - print on white paper tape and colour in yourself as it will only print in black) and also to have the letters printed horizontally along the length of the tape rather than the standard vertical (useful for labelling blank dvd cases)
If there are any labels you will want to print again and again you can store up to 9 in the memory of the machine so you don't have to type them out each time.
You can also add boarders to the words for the label including a crocodile and train (well a sort of crocodile and train). Perhaps useful if labelling up things belonging to young children.
Other bits to buy:
There are many different types of tape you can buy and use in this machine these include the paper tapes and plastic ones. Whilst the paper one only comes in white the plastic ones come in a range of colours. Also available are iron on labels - ideal for labelling your son or daughters school sports kit and school uniform.
On dymo's own website the tapes are priced from £3.23 for the white paper one to £4.33 for the silver 'metallic' one. (Prices include VAT but not delivery). Although you only get 2m of tape for the iron on one the rest are all 4m. The tapes are available from a good number of high street stores and they are at times on offer.
The print quality is good considering the price of the machine and it is an improvement on the old manual dymos. The label backing is reasonably easy to remove as it is in two halves so lightly bending the label makes the backing come up along the divide to this aid removal.
If you do use the 'two line' setting on the label please note that the printed letters are half the size in order to fit both rows on the 12mm width of tape.
I have mainly used the labels I have made for things in my kitchen as I have that many storage jars for things like lentils, rice etc. not to mention the different types of sugar I use for different cakes so getting them all clearly labelled was important. When it comes to herbs and spices I tend to keep them in the jars I bought them in and then simply buy refills but if you have a special set of jars for them then this is ideal for labelling them clearly. Also I have replaced my old hand written labels for my files in my filing cabinet.
The plastic tape is wipe clean with a damp cloth but I doubt the adhesive will survive very long if the item e.g. storage jar is immersed in water for too long or too often.
Well the body of the unit just wipe over with a slightly damp cloth. You are advised to clean the cutting blade every time you replace the tape (so after every 4m of tape used). However, if you use a number of different colours or types of tape this is more difficult to do. I would say clean it once every two months if it is used fairly often. Doing this is a bit fiddly the first time but easier after that all it takes is a cotton wool bud dampened with a little alcohol (no vodka DOESN'T count). I tend to use the alcohol that comes with those cd cleaning kits. Also when the print quality looks a bit off the print head can be cleaned using the head cleaner provided. Just make sure the cloth like side is lightly held against the print head, so facing away from the keyboard.
Screen size: 2.5" (6.5 cm) diagonal
Unit size (lxwxh) : 9"x3.5"x2.5" (23cm x 9cm x 6.5cm approx.)
Unit weight (including tape and batteries): 390g
Although not exactly a must have item it has made my kitchen cupboards easier to organise and I no longer have to have my illegible handwriting on the tabs of my files in the filing cabinet.
I would give this 4.5 stars if half stars were allowed but this is mainly just because it isn't a QWERTY keyboard so it is closer to 5 than 4
I don't suppose there are many who have not heard someone mutter those immortal words, "Age does not come on its own, you know." Just as they experience their first arthritic twinge, discover the need for spectacles or can't quite remember where they last put the shopping list they have just remembered they'd written.
Well - so far I have not felt any arthritic twinges or mislaid any shopping lists. Ok - so I do need glasses, but that's not age related - is it?
However, I was beginning to noticed that it was taking me much longer to find things these days and was forever saying to myself , or the dogs, "Now where in the blazes did I put that...?" or words to that effect, as if they could magically point me in the right direction.
In my younger days, I didn't have a lot to store; all that I had could be neatly filed away in a set of four drawers and a couple of cupboards, there was no space to hoard, so it was never difficult to find any item I wanted; but now, a few decades on I have at least twenty seven drawers and six cupboards where I keep cameras, paper, letters, photographs, inks, a plethora of office equipment, manuals, chargers, batteries, USB leads and so on and so forth; so was it any wonder? I ask, that I verged on the brink of quoting that well worn , yet meaningful phrase beginning "Age does not..."
My Eureka moment came one day when, after searching through eleven of the twelve drawers, I found what I was searching for in the twelfth; feeling a tad irritated that I didn't think to look there first.
Ping! The speech bubble above my head would have read - "Labels, that's what I need - labels on each drawer," and so the idea was born. If I was to speed up the process of finding an item , thereby avoiding the necessity of asking my dogs, the only way was to label each drawer with the contents therein. My Old Dymo printing machine, which embossed lettering on thick strips of red plastic, was ideal for use in the tool shed, but not a neat solution for furniture.
So off I went to WH Smiths, where I knew they sold labelling machines, and purchased the Dymo LetraTag LT-100H thermal label maker.
The first thing that struck me about the machine was its smooth, ergonomic design, with the underside curving gently downwards into a shape which, with perfect balance, fits snugly into the hand.
Made of strong plastic, with batteries and label cassette in situ, its working weight is 375g, just slightly heavier than the hand set of a modern cordless phone
The overall length is 21cm and width, 8cm. The LCD screen, sloping away at a slight angle, measures 5.5cm x 2.5cm, behind which is the hinged casing for the cassette. Four AA batteries are housed in an enclosed recess on the underside. The unit can also be powered using a 9 Volt, 1.5 Amp power adaptor which, when in use will disconnect the batteries as a power source.
Jutting out from the right hand side is a large lever which when depressed, cuts the printed label free from the tape.
Below the screen is what I shall refer to as the 'Control centre;' five round keys, the functions of which I shall describe in more detail later, are used to select and set the desired format and print size of the label, they are positioned in an arc round a large, circular navigation disc.
The small red button on the top left, is the on/off switch; the large lozenge shaped one on the top right, is the print key.
Below the control centre is a set of three white, rectangular keys, one of which is used for storing up to nine label texts in the memory for future use and the second, for recalling the stored info to print.
The third white key is to select either capital or lower case lettering. Next to this is a turquoise key to select numbers.
Under these keys are the letters of the alphabet, printed in black on air-force blue rectangular keys, starting at A, ending in Z (not in the familiar Qwerty style) Also printed, very faintly in white, on the first ten alphabet keys, are the numbers 1 to 9, plus a 0. To print numbers, the turquoise keys is depressed once, and depressed a second time to return to the lettering mode.
At the bottom of the unit, are three more keys, a white one labelled CLEAR, used to remove any text and previous formatting inreadiness for new input; a white arrowed key, to back space and delete the previous letter(s); and a long blue space key.
In the control centre, the name and function of the five keys, arranged in an arc round the navigation disc, are as follows - from left to right.
1. CANCEL, which when pressed, will exit you from the menu and cancel any selection made.
2. INSERT, this key gives entry to a selection of sub menus, and by using this key in conjunction with the navigation disc and the OK key, it is possible to print a date and/or one of 195 symbols, or insert a second line.
3. SETTINGS, this key opens a set of 4 options to choose from; again using the navigation disc to select and OK key to set the selection. The first of the options is to set the contrast on the LCD screen to suit personal taste. The second choice is to set the date, the third is to set the language and the fourth, when selected will show a preview of the label before it is printed.
4. FORMAT, this is the key to 3 sub menus, the first being the size of print, showing a choice of five sizes, from extra small to extra large. The second allows a choice between eleven border designs, and the third gives a choice between six font styles. i.e Normal, italic, shadow, outline, bold or vertical.
5. OK, this key is depressed each time a selection is made - for example:
If I want to choose to print a label where the letters are arranged vertically (assume I have already selected the size of print) I would press FORMAT, then using the navigation disc, select STYLE, then press OK, which will then give me a choice of styles, then once again use the navigation disc to find the vertical style and press OK, if I wanted to print the lettering in bold, I would use the same STYLE key again, select Bold and then OK. The machine will then be set up to print the label in bold lettering, vertically onto the tape.
It is worth mentioning here that although a label can be printed with two lines of text, this can only be achieved when the lettering sizes selected are from large to extra small.
~~~~The Dymo label maker cassettes~~~
The cassettes hold 4m of 1.2cm width tape. There are a variety of tapes available, made of either, paper, thin plastic or iron-on tape for clothing. The paper tapes can have a metallic background finish in green or white, or can be plain non-metallic finish. The plastic tapes come in a choice of colours, white, transparent, yellow or red.
WH Smith seems only to stock the white plastic tape, but others can be bought on line at www.dymo.com.
Our small WH.Smiths has since stopped stocking these, so I am pleased that I can order them on line.
The machine came in one of those irritatingly difficult to open, cellophane skin-wrapped packages on card. Include in the package was a small, comprehensive User guide, in three languages. Batteries and AC power cable were not included.
The cost to me was £25.98 at WH Smiths, last year, but it will be worth shopping around for a better price, if not in a hurry, for Smiths are notoriously expensive.
Since purchasing this machine, I have found many situation where labels conveniently save precious time, and moments of exasperation.
I have labelled drawers, and cupboards, it looks neat and almost decorative. The labels are easily removed when an item is relocated, thrown out or replaced. No sticky residue is left. I am pleased to say that it is very economical on batteries. Even though I use rechargeable batteries. I have only needed to recharge them once in six months.
I have also labelled electrical plugs, remotes, chargers and USBs, indicating which piece of equipment each belongs. I have also labelled the spines of my CD/DVD jewel cases so that I can see at a glance what is in the case without having to remove it from the rack first, and finally, my ring files and box files. I have since started labelling boxes stored in my new shed. Now my sister wants one of these.
I must have saved myself hours of frustrating search-time in the past year or so, even a burglar, should he dare try to get past my dogs unnoticed, would thank me for making life easier for him.
2013:Unfortunately Smiths no longer stock the label cassettes for these, but they can be purchased on line.
Once you have a label maker, it's amazing how many things you can find to label! From the plugs in the rats nest of wires behind the computer so that you know which is which, to tent poles so you can match them up correctly. The Dymo LetraTAG will label pretty much anything.
This is a hand-held machine (just a bit too big to be comfortable in one hand), it doesn't need a computer to make it work so you can use it anywhere. It takes a variety of colours and textures of tape - white paper, coloured plastic etc. all of which are sticky on the back. The tape comes in easy-to-load cassettes, they just clip in and you can change over part way through a cassette with no problem. It is battery powered - I've had mine a year and not yet needed to change the batteries.
The tapes are all the same width, so if you want a tiny label you can use the smaller font sizes but have to trim the tape, but that's about the only problem I've had with it. And if there were a variety of tape widths you'd never have the one you need anyway!
This machine is the natural and much more flexible successor to the old manual dymo tape machines where the letters were raised. There are various font sizes and decorative borders/edges including a steam train, hearts, flowers or a crocodile if you're labelling for kids. It also includes a reasonable set of symbols, rather like wingdings - things like smiley faces, a skull and crossbones and various arrows.
I can't really find any faults with this machine, if you want to label stuff or just play about it's great.
I bought my Dymo LetraTag about a year ago and it works like a dream. I originally bought it because I do a lot of baking and like to label items when I bake for friends. The Dymo is a hand-held device that allows you to create your own neat, self-adhesive labels. You have a choice of white or clear labels (the refill tape can be interchanged at will). It also allows you to format the size of the letters and style of the writing (6 settings for each), and also allows you to choose borders for your labels (8 different settings as well as simple underlining). The best feature is that it has a 9 label memory for those labels which you might need to use often.
The design of the Dymo is stylish and user-friendly. It has a lovely blue surface with silver along the sides. The buttons are clear and easy to use. The screen is not high-tech, but is clear and does what it is meant to do. The batteries also last reasonably long (I use 4 rechargeable AA batteries). The Dymo is quite expensive at about £30.
An excellent choice for those who want to label school stationary for their children.
Large 13-character display with print preview for editing label before printing.