Epson's LabelWorks LW-PX350 is a highly affordable choice for small businesses and hobbyists who need light-duty label printing, with an emphasis on heat-shrink tube labels for cabling. US Street Price$129.00
- Inexpensive for an industrial-style labeler
- Easy standalone printing with QWERTY keypad
- Tape choices including plastic, vinyl, magnetic, and heat-shrink tube (for cables) up to 0.71 inch wide
- Lifetime warranty
- Standalone printing only; can't create or store labels on a PC or handheld
- Saves only four labels in memory for easy reprinting
- Batteries not included
- Slow print speed
At $129, the Epson LabelWorks LW-PX350 is one step up in the company’s label printer line from the $89 LW-PX300, our current Editors’ Choice award winner among light-duty industrial labelers. At first glance, the two models look significantly different, with different sizes and proportions and a carrying handle on the LW-PX350 that its sibling lacks. Under the shell, though, their capabilities are surprisingly similar. Each offers some features the other doesn’t (more on that in a minute), but the key difference is that the LW-PX350 can handle more sizes of heat-shrink tube labels, which gives it an edge for those who need to label cables in an IT environment, or complex home network or home theater installations.
Key Differences in a Closely Matched Pair
Another difference between the two printers is that Epson sells the LW-PX350 in only one version, which is comparable to the LW-PX300 Full Printer Kit with its bundled accessories. These include an AC adapter, a carrying case, and the same tape cartridge for black-on-white standard plastic labels.
The LabelWorks LW-PX300 kit adds a rubber cover for a little extra protection if you drop the printer; the LW-PX350 doesn’t have an equivalent, but it’s the only one that comes with a heat-shrink tube cartridge in the box. Bought separately, the second cartridge is $40.99. Remove it from the LW-PX350 package, subtract its additional cost, and the two printers would come out to essentially the same price.
The additional tape included with LW-PX350 subtly highlights a more important distinction between the two: Although both print on most types of tape up to 18mm (0.71 inch) wide, the LW-PX350 can accept slightly wider cartridges, which accommodate heat-shrink tape for somewhat wider cables. That makes it the obvious choice for applications that involve a lot of cable-labeling work.
Another notable difference is that only the LW-PX350 offers automatic cutting. For the light-duty workloads these printers are designed for, however, manual cutting will serve just as well. Meanwhile, the LW-PX300 offers advantages of its own, including being able to save up to 50 labels in memory for easy reprinting. The LW-PX350 can save only four.
Both printers share other key features: They both work as standalone printers only rather than connecting to a PC; they use most of the same tape cartridges; and both can run on six AA batteries that you’ll have to buy elsewhere. Both also sport lifetime warranties. Epson tells us the warranty covers accidental damage, but the printed warranty says otherwise, so the company could presumably change that policy at will.
Setup and Handling
The LabelWorks LW-PX350 has a similar physical design to Epson’s heavier-duty LW-PX750 ($299.99), but is smaller and lighter. With either printer on a flat surface with the keypad facing up, the cover for the tape cartridge compartment is at top left rear and the LCD is at right rear. The QWERTY layout and buttons span the width of the printer below them, while a carrying handle extends out past the keyboard.
Setup consists of inserting a tape cartridge and either adding batteries or plugging in the AC adapter. The printer turns off automatically after five minutes of idle time to prevent the batteries from running down.
I found the handle looks like a better idea than it is, at least if you have large hands—the space between the handle and the printer body was simply not big enough for my fingers to get a good grip, with any attempt to hold tight tending to jam my knuckles into hard plastic. I wound up ignoring the handle entirely.
I measured the printer’s footprint at 7.25 inches at its widest point and 8.3 inches from the back of the printer to the front edge of the handle. When sitting on a flat surface, its height ranges from about 1.5 inches up front to just under 2 inches at the back, providing a slight tilt to make the keypad easier to use and the 1.75-inch LCD easier to read. You can also hold the printer in two hands for thumb typing, but with the batteries loaded, most of its 1.75-pound weight is near the back, making it a little difficult to hold while typing.
Your Choice of Tapes
The LW-PX350 can use all the tape cartridges the LW-PX300 does, plus 11 more, for a total of 90-plus tapes. The additional cartridges include three standard industrial plastic (polyester) tapes that are narrower than the choices for the LW-PX300, and eight heat-shrink tube tapes that are wider. While the LW-PX300 can use heat-shrink tube tape for cable diameters ranging from 0.044 to 0.205 inch, the LW-PX350’s choices nearly double the upper end of the range, to diameters up to 0.409 inch.
The 48 standard plastic tapes come in 30-foot continuous rolls at widths of 4mm (0.16 inch), 6mm (0.24 inch), 9mm (0.35 inch), 12mm (0.47 inch), and 18mm (0.71 inch). Each width comes in clear and various color backgrounds. Prices are $20.85 per roll for all but the largest width, which is $24.85 per cartridge.
Other choices include silver matte and vinyl tapes; tapes with strong adhesive; magnetic tape; and fluorescent tape. The number of choices in each category varies, as do lengths and prices. Some offer the same 30-foot length and per-width pricing as standard tapes, while others are shorter and are priced differently.
Easy Label Creation
Creating labels with the LabelWorks LW-PX350 can be as easy as typing some text and hitting the Print button. You can read up to two lines of six characters at once, and also preview a scrolling version on the LCD of what the label will look like. The 180dpi print resolution matches the LW-PX300’s and delivers equally crisp, sharp edges and highly readable text. However, the LCD of the LW-PX300 is backlit and shows more characters at once.
Various buttons above and below the keyboard let you add accented characters, choose a font, adjust font style, add a frame, or enter one of eight bar codes or 859 symbols for industrial and professional use. Other options let you specify the label length and overall format, including horizontal and vertical printing and flag format (which lets you wrap the label around a cable and paste the ends together to leave a little flag sticking out). Unlike the LW-PX300, the LW-PX350 doesn’t let you print multiple copies of a label with one command.
Epson rates the LW-PX350’s print speed at 6mm per second with AC power. That’s 0.24 inch per second (ips), the same rating as the LW-PX300 and slow enough to feel sluggish when printing even a 1-inch label. More costly label printers for industrial use tend to be faster. Brady rates the $195 BMP21-Plus at 0.4ips, for example, while Epson rates the $195 LabelWorks LW-PX700, our recent Editors’ Choice winner for mid- to heavy-duty industrial labeling, at 1.18ips.
In my tests, the LW-PX350 essentially tied the LW-PX300 at 0.23ips (taking 23.2 seconds for a 5.25-inch standard plastic label), whether using AC power or batteries. This doesn’t include time for cutting the label, which added about 1.75 seconds and would apply to any label regardless of length. Most people will consider the speed adequate for printing a few labels at a time. For comparison, the Brady BMP21-Plus printed at about the same speed, while the LW-PX700 was nearly three times as fast, at 0.67ips.
Second Among Equals
If you need heavier-duty printing than the LW-PX350 offers, be sure to look at the Brady BMP-21 Plus and Epson LW-PX700 if you like ABCD or QWERTY keypads respectively. For those with modest label-printing needs, both Epsons are potentially good choices, but the LW-PX300 is likely to be the better pick for most people. Its backlit LCD, onboard storage of up to 100 label definitions for easy reprinting, and ability to print multiple copies of a label with a single command leave it as our Editors’ Choice winner in its category. But the LabelWorks LW-PX350’s ability to print heat-shrink tube labels at larger sizes is enough to make it the smart choice for datacomm and other cabling jobs.