Seiko Smart Label Printer 430

If you print a lot of labels for files or mailings, having a dedicated label printer can be a useful addition to your office. I like these types of printers because I don’t have to print a letter-size sheet full of labels when I only want one or two. While labelmaker manufacturer Dymo released Mac software for its LabelWriter 330 Turbo (   , March 2004 ) a while ago, Seiko recently released a Mac driver for its Smart Label Printer 410, 420, and 430 printers. So I took a look at the 430 model to see what it has to offer Mac users. But because of problems with print quality and the design of the hardware and software, I can’t recommend it.

Hardware design

The Smart Label Printer 430 looks modern, with a cylindrical label-spool area and a sleek, gently curved front panel. To load blank labels, you lift the cylindrical part of the printer, load labels onto a spool, and feed the end of the label roll through the back of the printer. You must remember to squeeze together the two plastic guides so your labels print with proper text alignment (I wasted many labels because I neglected this step!). Once loaded, the labels come through the front of the printer automatically. With narrower, file folder labels, I had to let a couple of labels come through the front of the printer before they would come through straight and print with proper alignment.

Software needs work

The Seiko software looks easy to use, and in general, it is. (I looked at version 1.1 for this review.) But I still had problems. When I tried to import a tab-delimited Excel file containing addresses, some of my labels printed with information missing. A 20-minute call to tech support (12 minutes of which were spent on hold) didn’t help. Only a conversation with one of the software’s developers—not a typical users’ experience—illuminated the problem. Apparently, I had changed the field information to match my Excel document’s row headers while importing the data, as prompted, not after the data were already imported.

My other major complaint: The software doesn’t support Internet postage. The Dymo Label Writer does, with the help of Internet postage software Endicia (previously SwordfishExpress:   , December 2004 ).

Print quality

The Smart Label Printer 430 is fast, but it’s also a little loud (although so is the Dymo Label Writer 330 Turbo). This is likely because of the thermal-printing technology both models use. But the Smart Label’s text looks jaggy and inconsistent (some letters are darker than others and diagonal lines look pixelated), even when I set the print quality to High. I wasn’t comfortable printing name tags for a professional get-together on this printer.

Macworld’s buying advice

If you’re looking for a dedicated label printer, the Seiko Smart Label Printer 430 isn’t the best choice. Its quality isn’t on par with what many Mac users expect, and it’s more expensive than the competition. I suggest that you take a look at Dymo’s solid line of offerings instead.

[ Jennifer Berger is Macworld ’s senior reviews editor. ]

Seiko Smart Label Printer 430

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