With its MobileLabeler ($129.99), Dymo intends to combine the portability of a personal label printer with the convenience of printing from a mobile device. Unfortunately, this amalgamation, which eschews a physical keypad, falls a bit short in both areas. The MobileLabeler does make it possible to print labels from just about anywhere, but Dymo’s app doesn’t provide a streamlined or easy way to do so. While the MobileLabeler is functional—and does a better job when printing from a computer over a USB cable—there are less expensive, more reliable alternatives, such as the Dymo LabelManager 280.
At about 5 inches square by 2 inches thick and a little more than a pound, the MobileLabeler has a small and attractive form factor. It’s pleasant to look at, with a minimalist matte white design and sleek silver trim. The power button on top is flush with the chassis, and is accompanied by a battery readout and a Bluetooth status indicator. On the back panel are buttons to pair and reset the Bluetooth connection, as well as a micro USB Type-B port and an AC adapter jack.
Up to two users can connect simultaneously via Bluetooth using the free Dymo Connect app, which is available for iOS and Android. Alternatively, the printer can also be connected to Mac or PC over the included USB cable and print using Dymo Label software, a free download on Dymo’s website. The USB connectivity provides a solid fail-safe if you find yourself struggling to maintain a Bluetooth connection.
The printer is powered solely by an internal battery, which must be charged using the included AC adapter. Fully charging the battery from empty requires about 2.5 hours, and though you can print while you’re charging, at least 25 percent of the battery must be charged for the device to work at all. Because the MobileLabeler enters standby mode when you’re not actively using it, you shouldn’t have trouble keeping a charge as long as you need one.
An automatic cutter, which detaches your labels once they’ve been produced, is a nice feature that eliminates the need for tearing off individual labels and expedites bulk printing.
Printing and Labels
What sets the MobileLabeler apart from most of its peers is its app connectivity. This removes the need for a conventional keyboard, and in a perfect world, would make printing personalized labels far simpler.
The app’s interface, however, is a complicated affair of menus that makes it difficult to complete even simple tasks, such as formatting text on the label. And though you can print pictures from your phone onto labels, the print resolution is too low for this to be useful. The app’s one standout feature is its ability to access Google or Apple font libraries. If you are particularly tied to the idea of using an app to print labels, the Epson LabelWorks LW-600P offers similar functionality (and issues), but at a reduced cost.
Composing labels on a computer with the Dymo Label software is the preferable way to print with the MobileLabeler. The interface is intuitive and clean, and offers a variety of features not found in the app, including the abilities to maintain an address database, add an auto-updating time and date stamp, and format bar-code labels. For this reason, I tended to leave the MobileLabeler at my desk and tethered to my computer, so I could easily use it with Dymo Label. This negates much of the intended functionality of a wireless label printer, especially when Dymo’s own LabelManager Wireless PnP largely fills this role (albeit without an app), and does so for less.
The MobileLabeler took 6.5 seconds to print a quarter-inch label 3.3 inches in length with the text “PC Labs Test,” and 61.9 seconds to print 10 such labels in succession (cutting after each), resulting in a speed of 0.53 inch per second (ips). Although speed for a label printer is usually a minor consideration, the MobileLabeler’s was comparable to what we saw with both the LabelManager PnP and the Brother P-touch PT-P750W. The LabelManager’s time was similar when using both the iOS and Android apps on several devices, as well as from a computer with the Dymo Label software.
Dymo offers 41 cartridges in widths ranging from 0.25 inch to 1 inch for the MobileLabeler. (A 1-inch black-on-white cartridge is included.) They are plastic, thermal-print labels with adhesive backing. They come in a variety of backgrounds (including clear, neon green, and magenta) and font colors, although not all are available for every label. The Dymo D1 cartridge is compatible with all Dymo LabelManager models, as well. The cartridges average about $15 for 23 feet of label length.
Dymo’s attempt to minimize the form factor of a portable label printer by removing a tactile keyboard is sensible, but the result is far from perfect, due mainly to the app that limits its functionality. To be fair, other manufacturers have tried to do this and also stumbled; we encountered similar problems when printing to the Epson LW-600P from mobile devices. The MobileLabeler does have some solid appeal because of its ultramodern design, but it’s best for use at home or perhaps in a small business, where you can keep it connect to a computer via a USB cable, or at least close by. If you don’t mind its physical keyboard, the Dymo LabelManager 280 offers similar functionality and greater reliability at a much lower price.