Kieran Bicheno

The first smartphone-controlled label maker

The question that underpins this review is whether it's better to work a label maker through a smartphone or built-in controls.

The Brother P-touch PT-P300BT is billed as the world's first smartphone dedicated label maker. The pros and cons come up fairly quickly.

One might think: Is it really necessary to hook something as simple as a label maker up to a smartphone? Doesn't this add too much complexity? What if I need to make a simple label and don't want to faff about with my smartphone?

On the other hand, smartphones do offer a more streamlined and robust interface for what would difficult to achieve with a pushbutton setup. There's also the possibility of adding new functionality beyond would could be done with a stand-alone label maker.

Setting up the P300BT is simple. 6 triple-A batteries slot into the unit though there is a port for a power cable which didn't come in the box.

A sample of the white 12mm tape comes included, so you will probably be looking for replacement sooner rather than later. Standard Brother P-Touch tape works so your options are open.

Our tests worked on both the black-on-white tape and the gold-on-red ribbon brought out for Christmas.

It's quite a stylish little unit with clean, rounded lines and all-white surfaces. While it's not too heavy it has enough heft that it doesn't feel cheap or fragile, though weight might not be so much of a problem here as you don't carry it around with you. The Bluetooth connection means you'll have the printer on a table somewhere while you move around with your phone.

The Bluetooth connection is strong enough that you can print from 2 rooms away with no problem, so doing a sweep of your house or small office with your phone and keeping the P300BT central is completely possible.

I'm not impressed at the need to manually cut the leading tape from the label to make the text sit in the centre. In previous models the leading and trailing tape were the same length, so even if the label was large, it was symmetrical.

Going back to the main question, it seems the comparison between the P300BT and older models like the D200 is that the app version can sometimes be counter-intuitive in how it works, even if it makes more complex tasks far quicker and easier, while the older versions were intuitive but long-winded.

If you use a label-maker frequently, it should be easy to imagine whether or not this new setup makes sense for you. It's a good little machine for what it is and may open up new options for making labels.

Price: $79

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