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We couldn't imagine a label printer easier to use than Epson's LW-300 Label Printer, a stand-alone labeller akin to the popular Brother P-Touch. A label maker should be on the must-have list for any small-business or department manager that wants to stay well organized. And Epson offers two: the $39 LW-300 model with one-line LCD reviewed here, and the $49 LW-400, which adds bar-code printing, a two-line backlit LCD and more options for label types and colors.
About the size of a thick paperback, the LW-300 with its curved edges and bottom finger hole (and window to the label cartridge) can be held securely with one or two hands, and was most comfortable to input with two thumbs. For testing, Epson sent the CRN Test Center the Iron-on Kit, which includes two reels of iron-on labels in two of its three available colors. To get started, just pop off the bottom cover, slap in six AAA batteries and a label cartridge, hit the power button and input text on its large qwerty keyboard. When finished, press the big green print button and the text comes crawling out of a slot near the front. A cutter button on the side chops it off and the label is ready for application.
Other dedicated keys further simplify selection of about a dozen fonts, their size and shape, height and width. Character spacing, too, is adjustable, and provides control of the overall length of a printed label. A preview key displays the exact length (in inches or centimeters) of the label that's about to print and then scrolls its text. There's also a key for selecting from the scores of built-in symbols arranged in categories for office, home, sports, food, activities, shipping, math, occasion, prohibition and others. Printed text also can be enclosed in any of nearly a hundred frames ranging from beer to baby and winter scenes to the tropics. The LCD includes a battery-life indicator and energy is preserved by a 5-minute auto shut-off.