Brother QL-1100 Label Printer for Ecommerce

by
June 21, 2019

First Impression

The Brother QL-1100 is a thermal label printer with a sleek black-and-white design. More than most printers, particularly Zebra or Rollo printers, you have everything you need to hit the ground running—easy setup, a roll of 4″ x 6″ labels and a ribbon roll of 2″ labels. The closest printer I’ve seen to the Brother QL-1100  is the DYMO 4XL—the industry standard for thermal label printer in this price range.

Similar to the DYMO 4XL, though, the Brother QL-1100 does not allow for a wide selection of third-party labels. Whereas the aforementioned Rollo and Zebra thermal label printers allow for fanfold labels, the DYMO and Brother models require a specific label roll with unique specifications to work:

  • The DYMO 4XL labels’ perforations between each label are how it calibrates where one label ends and the next begins.
  • The Brother QL-1100, though, the requirements are a bit more exaggerated. The Brother QL-1100 has a DK label roll that is unique to Brother models.

More on this later.

Price

The printer is well-priced at $179.99. This is roughly the cost of the Rollo Thermal Label printer, and you can sometimes get the DYMO 4XL for this price. The drawback on its price, though, is that its labels are the most expensive labels I’ve ever seen. Because of their specific roll format, you are very limited on which labels you can print with. There are very few third-party label options. And the average business that uses a thermal label printer for shipping labels will have a hard time paying nearly $0.25 per label. While DYMO has similar limitations, there is a wide range of third-party label rolls at much more competitive prices.

Setup

WINDOWS:
The setup process was shockingly easy. I used to work technical support for ShipStation and printer setup calls were among the most common issues. And even after dozens of calls, models like the Zebra GK420 could still be tricky, but this one set up and worked great the first time. It didn’t even require checking manuals. Its plug and play functionality lets start printing immediately—even recognizing the label’s size upon installation.

The Mac setup is a whole other story.

MAC:
I had heard the Brother QL-1100 was not Mac compliant from other people but had to test for myself. Our setup guide doesn’t even have it listed for Macs, only Windows. After so successfully setting it up on a Windows machine, it would not load on a Mac. I even checked with our printer experts, who could also not get it connected. The print job failed to send to the printer. Even after installing through CUPS and installing the additional software from Brother’s website, nothing happened. Perhaps the issue was with my MacBook being newer and requiring an adapter to connect to the USB cable. If anyone can successfully install on a newer or older Mac, please comment below!

Comparison

To see our other printer models we’ve reviewed, head here.

Model

Brother QL-1100

Rollo Thermal Label Heavy Duty Printer

DYMO LabelWriter 4XL

Zebra ZD420 Thermal Printer

Label Types Supported

Only supports Brother-specific label rolls

Supports both rolled and Fanfold labels

Only supports DYMO-specific label rolls

Supports both rolled and Fanfold labels

Setup Difficulty

Setup is easy on PC

Doesn’t work on Mac

Setup is easy, but not as intuitive as the DYMO

Easiest setup, however offers the least customization

Setup is very detailed, but allows for greater customization

Print Speed

110mm per second
(if auto cutter is disabled)

*Up to 150mm per second

88mm per second

152mm per second

Print Resolution

Max. Resolution

300 dpi

Max. Resolution

203 dpi

Max. Resolution

300 dpi

Max. Resolution

203 dpi

 

Final Thoughts

One feature that must have been created for an audience other than ecommerce businesses is the automatic label cutter feature. When we set up the printer and tested it out on a batch of labels, by default, it cut each label off. This is not an optimal feature for ecommerce businesses looking for a postage label printer. The labels curled up and, after landing on desk, fell off my workstation and down to the ground like big white leaves. If you’re batching hundreds of orders at once, the added headache of having to wait for each label to print, stop, cut, print, stop, cut, all while you’re having to grab each label and stack them and then peel each label off would be too much. This feature became a timesuck for 10 labels.

Despite some impressive specs, it just doesn’t cater to businesses that need to churn out labels all day. Their expensive ecosystem of supported, authorized materials is the major blow to the printer, though. While you can quickly and easily switch out rolls of any size and the printer recognizes them, that’s not something most businesses need. Most ecommerce businesses will keep printing the same sized labels, only switching if the carriers change their label’s sizes. The Brother QL-1100 is more suited for people that need a printer to do things like print packaging and product information of varying widths and lengths.

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