The iDprt SP310 ($109.99 MSRP) looks, and most importantly is, the kind of compact label printer you’d want to sit on your desk for tasks like addressing envelopes, labeling folders files or printing price tags or barcodes. Unlike the Brother QL-800, which is our current top pick for entry-level printers for paper labels, it’s limited to black-only printing and its software can be confusing. But it also costs less in places, for example selling on Amazon so far for $89.99 after cutting a $20 coupon. And it offers some features that give it a bit more flexibility than most of its direct competitors, which are also limited to mono black output.
Label loading: inside or outside the box?
The graceful, rounded shape of the SP310 is typical of printers with space to mount a roll of labels inside, unlike the square shape of models such as the Rollo X1040 wireless printer, which only uses rolls external folding screen and stacks. However, in addition to allowing you to mount a roll inside the printer, the SP310 offers a rear entry slot, so you have the option of using fanfold labels or a larger diameter roll mounted outside. Another key difference between the two printers is the maximum label width. The X1040 is our current top choice for printing on shipping labels up to 4 x 6 inches. The SP310 can print on labels from 1 to 3.35 inches wide.
The SP310 alone measures 5.3 x 5.9 x 7.4 inches (HWD), but you’ll need to leave a little extra headroom behind it if you want to print on fanfold stacks or use an extra roll larger diameter than can fit inside the printer. body. For the latter situation, iDprt sells an external holder that can handle rolls as large as 9.8 inches in diameter, according to the company, compared to the internal space for a roll that is no larger than 3.5 inches.
The configuration is typical of this type of printer. Connect the supplied USB cable and power cord; insert a roll of labels into the printer or the leading edge of a stack or outer roll into the rear slot; and thread the labels into the guides near the exit slot in the front.
As of this writing, iDprt does not sell labels for the SP310, but the printer comes with a small starter roll and can use thermal labels from other manufacturers. (I confirmed this fact using Brother and Dymo labels I had on hand.) A standout touch is an adjustable pin that you can position at one of three different heights, to allow the printer to accept more combinations of roll diameter and core diameter. The cost per label will, of course, vary depending on the labels you purchase.
On the software side: choose your driver
In our review of the iDprt SP420, I pointed out that installing the software was confusing on several fronts. The main one was a choice between two Windows drivers that cannot coexist on the same PC. I found the installation much simpler this time around, partly because I skipped the included disc and followed the user guide instructions to download the files from the iDprt website. It also helped that I already knew the choice between drivers and knew how to install the Seagull version. (It’s the only one that works with the bundled Seagull BarTender label program.) Also, to my relief, I didn’t see any sign of the confusing installation wizard I mentioned in the review. SP420.
Installation might be even easier if iDprt eliminated the second driver entirely or at least added a mention of the Seagull driver in the instructions and gave a reason why you could choose one over the other, instead of not mention the Seagull driver at all. However, the company gets kudos for the improvements it has made since we reviewed the SP420. And as long as you know how to ignore the second driver installation instructions and just install the Seagull driver instead, it won’t be a problem. Note that the iDprt site also offers drivers for macOS and Linux.
Label Design Choices: App or Cloud?
The SP310 comes with the same easy-to-use BarTender UltraLite labeling program I talked about in the SP420 review, but it comes installed with a better default font choice. Therefore, I didn’t have to change any settings before I could print a readable label.
The printer also comes with iDprt’s own label designer. This utility installs as an application and allows you to create and store files on your own computer. Additionally, a cloud-based Label Designer app is available, and the two can work together, so you can create labels in either and upload or download them for cloud storage, on your hard drive, or both. Note that no mention of the cloud-based version is found in the installation guide. How did I learn it? I happened to notice a Label Designer tab on the iDprt website and clicked on it, thinking it might have instructions for using the PC-based application.
The PC and cloud aspects of Label Designer are easy to use, and it only took some trial and error to learn how to use them together to move files between cloud and PC. However, when I printed labels directly from the cloud using Firefox, Chrome, and Edge, they printed headers and footers. On the other hand, when I downloaded the same labels created online to my PC and printed them from the PC application, they printed correctly. I asked iDprt about the problem, but received no response.
In principle, you can also use either driver with almost any standard program on your PC to print labels, but I was unable to find the page size combination in Microsoft Word and driver settings that would print labels correctly with either driver, which is a problem I’ve never had with any other label printer. iDprt tech support was unable to suggest any settings to resolve the issue, and again my iDprt contact was unable to provide a response from the company.
iDprt SP310 review: labels with a little snap
iDprt rates the printer at 102mm per second, or 4 inches per second (ips). I clocked it, using the Seagull driver and printing 1 x 2.25 inch (HW) labels created in BarTender, at 1.6 seconds for a single label and at 22.1 seconds, or 2.7 ips, for 50 labels (including spaces between labels in the measurement). For comparison, I clocked the SP420 at 5.5 fps for 50 tags, also using a USB connection, and the Rolo X1040 at 3.4 fps using a Wi-Fi connection.
Output quality is typical of the 203 dpi resolution, making it more than adequate for the type of labels the printer is intended for. Barcodes, text, and small-line graphics were all sufficiently dark black, and the text was easily readable.
Hidden features make the difference
The iDprt SP310 offers decently fast performance and its ability to print on most other manufacturers’ labels gives you a wide variety of labels to choose from. But it’s the hidden features, especially the cloud app and the back slot, that make it a tempting choice.
The Brother QL-800, one of the few paper label printers capable of printing both red and black on a single label, remains our Editors’ Choice for its category. But it’s limited to a smaller maximum label width of 2.3 inches, which will rule it out if you need wider labels. Likewise, you’ll need to exclude the SP310 if you need widths larger than it can handle, such as 4 x 6 inch shipping labels. For that, take a look at the iDprt SP420 or the Rollo X1040 instead, the latter our editors’ choice for the widest width.
But if you don’t need to print labels wider than 3.35”, and especially if you want to take advantage of the rear feed slot and cloud features, the iDprt SP310 is a reasonable contender in this niche.
The iDprt SP310 label maker offers fast performance and accepts multiple types of thermal paper, but confusing software can leave you wondering what the best configuration choices are.
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