Seiko Instruments (aka SII) has long been known as a quality manufacturer of liquid crystal displays, semiconductors, watches, printers and more. Their printer line is mostly specialized for industrial and medical uses, but they’ve got a consumer line of dedicated thermal label printers known as the Smart Label Printers (SLP). The SLP 450 is Seiko’s top-of-the line label printer, offering 300dpi thermal prints, bar coding, importing from address books, etc. We put the SLP 450 through the paces to find out if it’s as good and useful as it sounds. Check out our full review.
Features and Design
Seiko’s Smart Label Printer 450 is a compact thermal printing unit, specifically designed for printing Seiko labels. The printing process is quiet and fast. Depending on how you print (single run or high volume), the SLP 450 can spit out labels as quickly as 1 second each.
The SLP 450 is housed in a white and clear-blue plastic body not unlike some early models of the iMac. It has a neat, sleek design and a good solid feel. The SLP 450 itself measures 6.22″ x 4.61″ x 6.34″, so it’ll fit easily on any desk, shelf or cabinet, no matter how cramped.
The SLP 450 prints “high res” 300dpi labels in a wide, wide variety of sizes. It’ll handle everything from tiny return address labels to larger shipping labels up to 2 1/4″ tall by 6″ wide. The SLP 450 will also print Seiko’s custom business/appointment cards which measure 2 1/4″ x 3 1/2″.
You can add images to your printed labels – company logos, a funny picture, a holiday-themed image, whatever you want.
The Seiko SLP 450 Smart Printer
Setup and Use
Setting up the SLP 450 is easy, even if you’ve never seen a label printer before. Simply remove the SLP 450 from its packaging and set it on a desk or table. You’ll notice that the SLP 450 does not need to be assembled. Just plug the power cord in to the back of the SLP 450 and into a wall outlet. Connect the SLP 450 to your computer’s USB port and install the Mac or PC software. The SLP 450 will be listed as an available printer on your computer.
The next step involves adding labels to the SLP 450 so you can print. For this example, I set up my SLP 450 with the 1 1/8″ x 3 1/2″ address labels (SLP-2RL). Slip the label roll onto the spool/dowel and place it back on the SLP 450. This process is (unfortunately) very reminiscent of changing a toilet paper roll. If you think of it in those terms, swapping label rolls is terribly simple. With the label roll on the spool, fish the first label into the back of the SLP 450 (look for the guide notches molded into the white plastic body). As soon as the SLP 450 senses a new label is being inserted, it’ll automatically feed the label into place.
One word of caution – if you’re fishing a new label roll into the SLP 450, you may need to remove the first couple labels, as they most likely have tape or adhesive on them. The SLP 450 is a thermal printer and cannot print on tape or adhesive that may be stuck on a label.
When printing out numerous labels, the SLP 450 excels – not only in speed but in convenience. Labels are printed on a wax-papery strip, like a roll of stamps. You simply print, peel and stick. It’s all very fast and easy.
Setting up labels in the software is as simple as typing your desired text in or instructing the software to pull your address book and selecting from a contact list. Depending on your operating system (Mac or Windows) the steps to import contacts for printing will vary, but it’s easy and fast either way you go. The main steps are to select a label format (e.g. US Address), then click the “Advanced” button, then select your address book application. The Seiko software will display your contacts and contact categories. You select the contacts you want, and click OK. The software returns to the Advanced page with your contacts prepped and ready for printing. Modify fonts as desired, then hit print. Voila! Done.
The SLP 450 is primarily intended for printing text and bar codes. The included software allows for printing of black & white images (if you only have color imagery, the software will convert it for you), and at 300dpi resolution, the images should look really good. In order to get decent images to print, your original file needs to be of sufficient quality and resolution. Printing a thumbnail image, for example, will result in an embarrassing mishmash of grainy pixilation, much how images would look when sent by fax using WinFax LITE circa 1993. But high res images, especially B&W line art, will print well. It’d be nice if Seiko could improve printing of small to medium sized art.
If you’ve ever printed a sheet of Avery-style address labels and then goofed up the placement of a single label, you know the utter disappointment of having to print another sheet of labels, having to waste a full blank sheet to print one stinking label or worse, reverting to hand-writing the address. It’s annoying and it almost always means wasted paper, wasted money or blown image. The SLP 450 stops the madness by allowing you to go back and reprint a single label if/when necessary. Single do-over equals reduced stress.
Very sorry. The SLP 450 prints black only. It’s thermal printing, after all.
Software Goofs & Fixes
Certain 2006/2007 versions of both Mac and Windows software have some limited buggy issues. For example, version 1.5.1 of the Mac software included on the CD caused OS X to sputter and slow, and the program sometimes failed to open. The Seiko website (LINK: http://www.siibusinessproducts.com/support/index.html) has updated software for Mac and PC, both of which seem to fix all bugs. Version 1.7 of the Mac software works flawlessly. Windows software version 6.4 is the most up-to-date software available.
Anyone who’s ever sent out a few hundred Christmas cards, invitations or announcements knows the pain of hand-written envelopes and the frustrating limitations of dealing with peel-and-stick label sheets. The SLP 450 simplifies the entire process and, in some cases, will greatly speed things up. The SLP 450 is also very useful for home offices, small and medium sized businesses searching for a quick and easy way to boost their professional image. It’s extremely handy for making folder labels, custom eBay shipping labels, etc.
Although the included software had some issues, the updated software on Seiko’s website works great. The SLP 450 gets a big thumbs-up for ease of use and overall utility. Even the suggested retail price of $149 USD is not that bad (note that the SLP 450 can be found online for around $120 USD). The only notable downside to the SLP 450 was the sometimes mediocre printing of custom images on labels. Other than that, it was great.
• Labels print clean, quick and easy
• Instant image boost for small businesses
• Print single labels or entire batches
• Import contacts from address book program
• Mac and PC compatible
• Image printing can be touchy
• Labels max out at 2 1/4″ x 6″