The Epson LabelWorks LW-PX900 is the company’s largest label printer—and arguably as large as a handheld printer can get. It’s a step up from the Epson LabelWorks LW-PX700, which won our Editors’ Choice award for moderate to heavy-duty industrial labeling. The capacity to handle wider tape, up to 36mm, is the primary difference between them, and the reason you might want to bump up your budget to $299 for the LW-PX900 alone or $379 for the LW-PX900PCD Deluxe Kit described here (1.42 inches). The LW-PX900 is also somewhat faster, has higher resolution, and supports die-cut tapes, making it a more capable labeler than the LW-PX700 and pushing it beyond the Brady BMP41 as our Editors’ Choice winner for an industrial label printer.
Epson LabelWorks LW-PX900PCD Deluxe Kit
- Comes with a keypad and memory for standalone printing, as well as a label program for Windows PCs
- Many label types and materials are supported, with widths up to 1.42 inches wide
- Labels can be cut without the backing, leaving a continuous strip
- Lifetime warranty and 4-foot drop testing
- It’s too heavy to type with your thumbs comfortably
- There is no print program or driver for Mac OS X
EPSON LABELWORKS LW-PX900PCD DELUXE KIT SPECS
|Color or Monochrome||Monochrome|
|Maximum Standard Paper Size||36mm (1.42 inches) width|
|Number of Ink Colors||1|
|Number of Ink Cartridges/Tanks||0|
|Direct Printing From Media Cards||No|
|Direct Printing From USB Thumb Drives||No|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color)||NA|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)||35mm / 1.38 inches per second|
|Monthly Duty Cycle (Recommended)||Not rated|
|Monthly Duty Cycle (Maximum)||Not rated|
|LCD Preview Screen||Yes|
|Printer Input Capacity||1 cartridge roll; sizes up to 30 feet|
|Cost Per Page (Monochrome)||varies with tape type, width, and label length|
|Cost Per Page (Color)||NA|
|Automatic Document Feeder||No|
|Maximum Scan Area||N/A|
|Scanner Optical Resolution||N/A|
|Standalone Copier and Fax||N/A|
The Concept: You’ll Require a Handle
The LabelWorks LW-PX900, like its smaller sibling, has a handle on one end to make carrying the 2.78-pound printer simpler. It has a similar general design to the LW-PX700 and is similar in size to the Brady BMP41 and BMP21-Plus, which means its size fluctuates depending on where you measure it.
At its longest, the Epson’s depth (or length) was around 11.6 inches. The handle is roughly 5.4 inches wide at its widest point, towards the top across the 3.2-inch LCD screen, and 3.75 inches width at its narrowest point. When seated on a flat surface, the top panel slopes down to make the screen easier to read and the QWERTY keyboard simpler to type on. Its height or thickness is around 3.5 inches near the screen and an inch less at the handle end. Although the printer can be held in both hands for thumb typing, I found it to be too hefty to handle comfortably for lengthy periods of time.
The printer is primarily black with red accents, with white for a few function keys and lime green for the Print key and the label slot. Change settings, define labels for patch panels and flag labels (with a small flag sticking out from the cable), and save and load up to 100 label definitions to and from onboard memory are among the special functions.
The following is a typical physical setup: Simply insert a tape cartridge and either six AA batteries or the rechargeable lithium-ion battery (available separately for $79 or as part of the Deluxe Kit) into the machine. The Kit version, which we tried, also comes with an AC adaptor for charging the lithium-ion battery, which Epson claims would last for about four 30-foot cartridges worth of labels between charges. You can carry a spare battery or AA batteries as a backup or use AC power. The cord on the power adapter is just over 12 feet long.
The printer comes with an AC adaptor and one tape cartridge when purchased separately. A hard-shell carrying case ($59.99 separately) and a set of two industrial magnets ($21) that screw into the printer’s bottom so it can attach to any handy ferromagnetic surface are included in the whole package for the price of the optional battery plus a dollar.
Everything should be labeled: There are 150 tapes to choose from.
Epson currently supplies 150 tape cartridges for the LW-PX900, bringing the total number of varieties and widths available for the LW-PX700 to roughly 30. Approximately half of them are 30-foot standard plastic (polyester) tapes in various print and background color combinations with widths ranging from 4mm to 36mm (0.16 inch to 1.42 inches). Prices for 12mm and smaller width cartridges are $20.85, $24.85 for 18mm and 24mm (0.71 and 0.94 inch) widths, and $34.50 for 36mm widths. Because they’re all continuous rolls, your pricing per label will vary depending on the label size.
Silver matte; tapes with strong adhesive; magnetic tapes; vinyl, fluorescent, and reflective tapes; heat-shrink tube tapes for cables; self-laminating overwrap tapes for cables with a clear, unprintable area to overlap the printed text; and rolls with circular, oval, and rectangular die-cut labels make up the other half of your label options. The length, price, and number of options for each type of specialized tape differ.
Printing from a Windows PC or on the fly
The LabelWorks LW-PX900, like the LW-PX700, allows Windows laptop and desktop users to download and print using Epson’s Label Editor software (version 2.04), which also includes a driver that allows you to print from other Windows apps. Label Editor, as I’ve noted in previous Epson label printer reviews, is both capable and simple to use. MacOS, on the other hand, does not support printing.
Except for the possibility to utilize bigger cassettes and tapes with die-cut labels, printing without an attached PC is basically identical to printing from the LW-PX700. Up to 100 label definitions can be saved and retrieved, as well as the ability to print bar codes and QR codes, print in vertical or horizontal orientation, print labels in mirror image, and use any of 859 industrial and professional symbols. The Drop Stop option is a particularly lovely touch: When you turn it on and print many labels with a single command, the printer will wait for you to remove each label from the output slot before printing the next one.
The device’s print speed on AC power is 35mm or 1.38 inches per second, according to Epson (ips). That’s more than three times quicker than the Brady BMP21-Plus’s 0.4ips rating, and just slightly faster than the LW-PX700 (1.18ips) and Brady BMP41 (1.3ips).
When printing four copies of a 4.6-inch label with the wording “PCMag Label Printer Test” with automatic cutting switched off, the LW-PX900 managed 1.2ips in my tests. The speed reduced to 0.89ips when I configured it for half cuts between labels, which allows you to pull individual labels off a continuous strip of backing material after printing (including the final cut at the end). When testing on battery or AC power, my times were same.
Note that the unit’s 360dpi resolution is double that of most printers in this class and somewhat higher than the BMP41’s 300dpi. The increased resolution won’t make a difference on most labels, but it did deliver clean, readable 5-point writing when I printed five lines of text on a tape that was just less than half an inch wide.
Make a note of it on your to-do list.
Each of the label printers listed here provides a lot of options for the money, both in terms of content (from bar codes to symbols) and label kinds. The Brady BMP21-Plus is the cheapest of the bunch, and it comes with an ABCD keyboard layout for those who prefer it to QWERTY. The BMP41 is more directly competitive with the LW-PX900, and it’s also available in specialized configurations that focus on specific applications (like the Voice and Data Communications Starter Kit we examined), so you might be able to find one that’s right for you.
The LabelWorks LW-PX700 and LW-PX900 have the benefit of a lifetime warranty, which includes accidental breakage. The MIL-STD-810 four-foot drop test was also passed by the LW-PX900. Although both Epsons have nearly identical Windows printing programs and built-in features, the LW-PX900 is the only printer in this group that can print to tape wider than 1 inch. The LW-PX700 is less expensive and remains our Editors’ Choice option for all but the heaviest workload if you’re sure you’ll never require labels up to 1.42 inches wide. However, if you know or suspect you’ll require broader labels, the LW-PX900 is the printer for you, and it earns our Editors’ Choice award.