Continuing with the theme we started last month with the Top 10 Barcode Scanners, we looked at the top barcode printers over the last 10 years (based on sales). Unlike barcode scanners, there is a bit wider of variation in the types of barcode printers available. Just like it wouldn’t be fair to compare college football teams to NFL teams, we decided it’d be best to keep the types of barcode printers separate. And, for the sake of brevity, we put up just the top 5 in each category.
Top 5 Tabletop Barcode Printers
5. Zebra S4M – The Zebra S4M barcode printer is an economical midrange tabletop printer. It has metal construction and many of the same features as higher end printers, but is still affordably priced and is easy to use. So it’s no surprise this printer made the list.
4. Zebra 105Se – The Zebra 105Se was an all-metal midrange printer designed for common industrial applications. With the many options it had, it could be configured to meet the requirements of both first-time and experienced users. It was discontinued in June 2002 and replaced with the Zebra 105SL barcode printer.
3. Zebra 140Xi II/III/IIIPlus – Since the 1990’s, the Xi series has been Zebra’s high performance tabletop barcode printer line. It has gone through several generations, the current model being the Zebra 140Xi4 barcode printer. With a fanless, all-metal construction, 5” print width, and a blazing fast print speed, the 140Xi series has been an ideal choice for high-volume, mission-critical 24/7 applications.
2. Zebra Z4M/Z4Mplus – The Zebra Z series is the fastest of their midrange tabletop barcode printer line. These die-cast metal frame barcode printers were the choice for demanding variable-information print jobs. The Z4Mplus was discontinued in January 2008 and replaced with the Zebra ZM400 barcode printer.
1. Zebra Stripe S600 – The Zebra Stripe S600 was a midrange tabletop barcode printer. It was made of polycarbonate plastic, not metal, so it couldn’t withstand really harsh environments or heavy-duty work cycles. However, it could take a full 8”OD roll of labels, was easy to use, and had a low price. It was discontinued in June 2007 and replaced with the Zebra S4M, our #5 on the list. That just shows how this series’ popularity has truly dominated in the last decade.
Top 5 Desktop Barcode Printers
5. Wasp W-300/W-300Z – The W-300 was the first desktop barcode printer series from Wasp Barcode Technologies. It had features and functionality comparable to the major brand name desktop printers, but at a price targeted at SMB companies. It was discontinued in 2006 and replaced with the Wasp WPL305 barcode printer.
4. Wasp WPL305 – The Wasp WPL305 desktop barcode printer can do both direct thermal and thermal transfer printing. It also has a full range of interface and media handling options. All of those features and a low list price got this barcode printer on this list.
3. Zebra TLP2742 – The TLP2742 was actually an Eltron thermal transfer desktop printer before Zebra bought that company in 1998. Its quality and popularity continued on until it was discontinued in June 2003 and replaced with the Zebra TLP2844 barcode printer.
2. Zebra TLP2844/TLP2844-Z – The Zebra TLP2844 barcode printer is a sturdy, user-friendly 4” thermal transfer desktop printer. It easily integrates into a wide variety of applications, so it’s really no surprise that it’s so high up on this list.
1. Zebra LP2844/LP2844-Z – The Zebra LP2844 barcode printer is the direct thermal only version of the TLP2844. All of its other features are the same, but it has a significantly lower price. Even though direct thermal labels have a short lifespan, they are ideal for temporary labeling applications like shipping, medical labs, and postage.
Top 5 Mobile Barcode Printers
5. Zebra PA400 - The Zebra PA400 was a 4” mobile barcode printer. It was lightweight, but durable enough to handle the bumps and bruises that come with being portable. It was discontinued in October 2005 and replaced with the Zebra QL420 Plus mobile barcode printer.
4. Monarch 6015 – The Monarch 6015 was actually an attachment for palm-sized mobile computers, like the Symbol SPT1500. It could also be used with commercial PDAs to print receipts, packing lists, pick tickets, etc. Monarch discontinued the 6015 with no replacement. The closest model available is the Datamax O’Neil PrintPad, which is quite a bit bigger.
3. Zebra PT400 - The Zebra PT400 was the thermal transfer version of the PA400. It was discontinued in October 2005, but didn’t have a replacement until the Zebra P4T thermal transfer mobile barcode printer was released in 2008.
2. O’Neil MicroFlash 4T – The Datamax O’Neil MicroFlash 4T mobile barcode printer was made to withstand the toughest applications. The flagship of the MicroFlash family, it can print 4” receipts and labels, linered or linerless, and communicate via 802.11b, Bluetooth, or IrDA.
1. Zebra QL Plus Series – The Zebra QL Plus mobile barcode printer series is ideal for printing labels on the go. It can also handle increased levels of wireless security, which is important for the secure transfer of sensitive data such as price lists, customer information, and medical records. Its rugged construction, user-friendly options, and flexible connectivity have made the QL Plus series printers so popular.
There are the top barcode printers over the last 10 years. A bit longer of a list than the top barcode scanners, but we wanted to do justice to the different types of barcode printers. I was expecting to see Zebra Technologies’ name quite a bit on these lists, but I was surprised to see that they almost completely shut out the competition. I guess I slightly underestimated their dominance in the barcode printer market. In the next 10 years, will Zebra continue to rule the market or will Datamax O’Neil, Wasp or Intermec be able to win more market share?