The Marklife P11 label printer lets you stick a label on almost anything from leftover soup bound for the freezer to items of jewelry that need price tags for craft shows. This thermal printer costs only $35 with one roll of tape in the box (or $45 or $50 with four or six rolls, respectively); Amazon sells it for $35.99 in white or $36.99 in pink. The laminated plastic labels it uses are inexpensive as well, making the Marklife a limited but appealing budget alternative to the $99.99 Brother P-touch Cube Plus, our Editors' Choice award winner among label printers, or the $59.99 P-touch Cube.
Precut Labels Only, Limited Sizes
All these labelers let you connect by Bluetooth to print from an app on Apple or Android phones or tablets, and all three print on laminated plastic label stock. One key difference among them is that Brother offers a much longer list of P-touch tape choices than Marklife offers for the P11. In addition, the Brother tapes are continuous, so you can print labels of whatever length you need, while the P11's labels are precut, with their length determined by which label roll you're using. Maximum label widths also vary between the printers, at 12mm (0.47 inch) for the P-touch Cube, 15mm (0.59 inch) for the Marklife, and 24mm (0.94 inch) for the P-touch Cube Plus
At this writing, Marklife offers seven different tape packs, with three rolls in each pack. All but two of the packs provide labels 12mm wide by 40mm long (0.47 by 1.57 inches), in white, transparent, and various solid-color and patterned backgrounds. Most work out to 3.6 cents per label, with transparent labels slightly more (4.2 cents apiece). You can also buy slightly larger 15mm by 50mm (0.59 by 1.77 inch) white labels that cost 4.1 cents each. The most expensive are cable flag labels, which measure 12.5mm by 109mm (0.49 by 4.29 inches) and come out to 8.2 cents each.
All the labels are laminated plastic, and Marklife says they're all friction- and tear-proof as well as waterproof, oil-proof, and alcohol-proof, as my ad hoc tests confirmed. The company says it will soon offer more patterns in the same sizes and that the P11 will work with 12mm to 15mm Niimbot D11 precut labels as well.
The cable flag labels deserve special mention. Each consists of three sections: a narrow tail that you can wrap around a cable or other small item, and two wider sections that will serve as the front and back of a roughly 1.8-inch flag sticking out from the tail. After printing the label, you attach it using the tail, then fold over the front portion so it sticks to the back.
Aligning the two pieces properly is easier than you might expect, thanks to a little crimp along the line where it should fold. I found it easy to fold correctly even on my first try, with the edges of the front and back sections perfectly aligned.
Print From Your Phone
As mentioned, the 8.3-ounce P11 is available in white, or in white with a pink highlight around the outer edge. It's about the shape and size of a large bar of soap, a 5.4-by-3-by-1.1 inch (HWD) rectangular block. Rounded corners and edges plus some artful depressions on the front, back, and sides make it a bit more visually attractive and more comfortable to hold. A release button to open the tape roll compartment cover is on what I'll call the top edge, a micro USB port for charging the built-in battery is on the bottom, and the power switch and status light are on the front.
Setup couldn't be simpler. The printer comes with a tape roll already installed; just connect the supplied charging cable to the micro-USB port and let the battery charge. While you're waiting, you can install the Marklife app from the Google Play or Apple App Store. Once the battery is juiced, you turn the printer on, then use the app (not your device's Bluetooth pairing) to find your phone. You're ready to create and print labels.
I found the Marklife app easy to get started with but hard to master. It offers a solid set of label printing features such as bar codes, but you'll have to experiment or poke around a bit to find them. Some features, including basics such as changing regular to italic text, are hard enough to find that I thought they were absent until I learned where they were hidden. Marklife says it plans to address this issue in a software upgrade.
Printing speed is not particularly important for labelers like this one, but for the record, I timed the 1.57-inch labels at an average of 2.6 seconds or 0.61 inch per second (ips), and the 4.29-inch cable labels at 5.9 seconds or 0.73ips, just short of the rated 0.79ips, regardless of what was printed on them. By comparison, when printing a single 3-inch label, Brother's P-touch Cube came in a little slower at 0.5ips, and the P-touch Cube Plus a little faster at 1.2ips. In practice, any of these printers is fast enough for the sort of light duty they're designed for.
Print quality was comparable among the three printers. The P11's 203dpi resolution, which is average to above average for label printers, delivered sharp-edged text and line graphics. Even small fonts were highly readable.
A Good Choice for Light-Duty Labeling
The Marklife P11's low initial cost, paired with its low-priced labels, makes it a good choice for everyday labeling. As with any label printer, the deciding question for you is whether it can create all the types, colors, and sizes of labels you need. If you need to print labels at longer lengths than the P11's precut labels allow, you'll want to consider either of the two Brother label makers, with the P-touch Cube Plus the obvious candidate if you need wider labels, too. But as long as its precut labels suit your purposes, the Marklife P11 can serve nicely in a home or a micro business, especially if you can make good use of its handy cable labels.
The Bottom Line
The Marklife P11 is a likable label printer, plus an iOS or Android app, that's competent but unpolished. The combination delivers low-priced, light-duty printing of plastic laminated labels for a home or small business.
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