Ever had to shuffle through many places to find that important document? Well there could be a simpler way to handle this situation.

The Brother PT-D600 Label printer is a AC and USB connectable battery powered Thermal Label printer. It handles all of their TZe Label Cassettes which are 24mm or smaller. And is advertised to handle Heat shrink printing as well, but they don't list any compatible tapes, I assume it's the HSe but I'm not going to buy a roll to test.

How does it work?

It's really simple. A short but really expensive way is:

  1. You select "Create Label"
  2. You insert the text
  3. You press print

Why is this expensive?

Well... It's due to the design of the tape cartridge.

Can't see it? Here is an edited image.

The red line is the Automatic Cutter, which is where the tape ends, the green line is the Print Head.

That blue line? It's 25mm of label, that is dumped, before every single label by default and at $59.95 MRP NZD per 24mm tape, that's $0.19 NZD wasted! You can minimise the label wastage but, you have to configure the label cut settings to "Chain" (In "Create Label": Press "Fn" then select "Cut Option" then scroll down to "Chain" and press "Ok") and manually cut at the end (Press "Shift" and the Magnifying glass then Select "Feed & Cut" and press "Ok"). But it's still $0.19 NZD per label run which is not cool or cheap.

And it makes no sense to design the tape into this shape. They could have moved the print head closer, almost onto the merge point of the tape's backing and laminate, and removed this issue. Without inducing any structural issues in the tape cassette.

So how is this better than a cheap label printer?

Firstly it's not a basic label printer by far, as you can guess by its massive screen, it has quite a few features. It has a vast array of predesigned static labels and label templates, which are designed for common items, like Interoffice mail, or Asset labels.

On top on that, it has USB support. And room on the device for 90 more custom designed labels or templates, so you can create your own labels on the PC software, and access it on the device on the go. Although the storage is volatile so if you lose power, the labels and all your settings are lost so I would recommend getting some [amazon=B00JHKSN5I]Eneloop batteries[/amazon] to make sure that this doesn't happen while the device is in storage.

And the USB support makes this device a killer, want to label 24 patch cables to make life easier? Simple load the [amazon=B00WX0H9QS]TZe-FX tape[/amazon] into the printer (Otherwise the label will just peel off), open up the PC app, load the wire wrap template and make the values auto-fill from a linked database. It would be nice if Brother allowed more flexibility both on the device and in the companion software to print labels from a defined pattern and range and count, so simple runs of labels that fill a pattern (Eg print 2 copies of a label following the pattern "FG-A1-???" and replace the question marks with a consecutive zero padded number from the range 48 to 72) to simplify a large amount of label uses, from labelling cables, labelling invoices and anything that has a base format to its construction.

The tapes...

Since Brother uses a standard tape cartridge shape for their modern P-Touch label printers, shared between the TZe and HSe tapes. This makes it more cheaper per square meter than the cheaper label makers. Plus it makes third party labels more prevalent, and even cheaper. The official [amazon=B004I2GG5Y]TZe-251[/amazon] 24mm x 8m for ~$20 NZD it's not all that expensive.

But while the standard TZe line does do most jobs very well, it's not perfect. Like all labels the more smooth the surface is, especially if it is rounded, the less likely it is to stick and will stick for a shorter time than tape that is designed for that environment. If you want to label a smooth round cylinder, get a laser engraver, because no label will adhere to it for very long.

If you want to put a label on a rounded surface, like wrapping a cable you have to use the TZe-FX line, the [amazon=B004ZMX7Y0]TZe-FX251[/amazon] is the best since the label is visible from a longer distance. If you need a label to stick outdoors or in harsh environments you need to use the TZe-S line, again the [amazon=B004I2JR2S]TZe-S251[/amazon] is the best since the label is visible from a longer distance.

The Quality

There isn't much to say about the print quality, it's miles better than a cheap label printer, but it's also behind label printers that cost into the thousands. It's slightly better than where I would expect it to be. There is no noticeable pixilation of the text until you hold the label about 10 cm away from your face, and look at the rounded edges of letters. And what pixillation you can see is minimal, it really only shows on small thin text. And mostly exists due to the limits of a thermal print head, and its need for large heater dot's to be able to heat up fast.

The labels themselves aren't any far behind, when you use them correctly work just as they are told to do, none of my labels have faded or degraded in anyway either in direct exposure to the sun for some time, no issues with heat or adhesive failing (Other than using the standard labels on cable wraps. Seriously use the [amazon=B004ZMX7Y0]flexable TZe-FX251[/amazon] for that. The standard or strong labels don't flex well!)

The printer itself feels solid. It doesn't creak or crack when you try to flex it. It has some real weight behind it, especially when you put the 6 AAs it can handle into it! But isn't all that heavy when you hold it for some time. It isn't balanced at all, which isn't all that much of an issue, given that you straight up can't use it when it's in your hands.

The Software

It's the end of the review, and I haven't mentioned the major part behind the major selling point. The PC software.

I primarily use a MacBook Air, with OS X. If your also like me... forget the OS X version of their PC software. It crashes almost 4 out of every 5 times, ON STARTUP. After that, pressing any button in the software will give you a 50:50 chance of it crashing. It is not unusual for me to take 20 to 30 tries to print a single label out.
Any anything else just crashes. Click "Check for updates." Insta crash.

If your like the majority of people (Also like me) who has a computer (Or server) that runs Windows... Your in luck! The software on Windows is flawless. It looks amazing, and is very usable. For the first time I have ever seen in a printer, there is no menus or tabs you need to dig down to change options, it literally is:

  1. Click Print
  2. Select any cutting options you want (Like chain)
  3. Select number of copies you want
  4. Click Print.
  5. Profit.

And on the Windows software there is the ability to create a list of labels in a spreadsheet. Which is nice, but the basic range feature I talked about earlier would still be quite nice.

Did I mention there is an Label Printing API? Because there is one, and it's free. So if you wanted to say pull data from one or more applications and then feed it into a label template. If you wanted to optimise the workflow for maximum profit you, build an app that collects all the data and then sends it to Brother's API that prints all the labels for the job at a click of a button.
If I had to give this an subjective score I would give it a 8 of 10.
It's a decent label printer. It has the right balance of fancy features and core usability. But for some reason it just leaves me wanting a little more. It just doesn't feel complete.

If you have access to a Windows PC, then you will have no issues with this printer. If you don't, don't bother getting this device.