Zebra ZD500R RFID Printer Review

Zebra's Compact RFID Printer - ZD500R

Zebra’s Compact RFID Printer – ZD500R

Zebra’s new compact RFID printer, the ZD500R has been out for a while, but I’ve only just gotten my hands on one to check out.

Big Z has been releasing a number of new models of late, but this is one I’ve been looking forward to – ever since the original Zebra GX printer promised an RFID version, years ago.

The GX RFID never materialized, but the similarly sized ZD500R will work for me. The question is, was it worth the wait? Let’s take a look.

Zebra has packed a heck of a lot into the petite form-factor. It is clear that it has been developed from the GX series, but it brings a first to the compact desktop world, the same UI as its more industrial family members. Having spent a little while finding my way around the brand new ZT420, having the exact same interface was great – thanks for that, Zebra!

The ZD500R is available in both direct thermal and thermal transfer versions and 203 and 300 DPI resolutions. It is designed to be able to encode the usual UHF RFID for EPC Gen 2.

Outside

ZD500R Open

Looking into the ZD500R

Well, to sum up the outside, it looks like a GX printer with the ZT200/400 interface. I’ve no problem with that – I’ve never been a huge fan of the plastic desktop printers, but the GX has always been one of the best of that type.

The rear of the printer has the connectivity ports, serial, parallel, USB and Ethernet all being standard. WiFi and Bluetooth are optional.

Inside

Nothing startling on the inside – if you like the GX models, you’ll like the ZD500R as well. As with the GX, the label roll holder and guides are a little wobbly – you won’t be printing tiny labels needing super precision on this, so no big deal.

Using the ZD500R

The printer that Zebra loaned us for our ID Technology Roadshow is a 300 DPI, thermal transfer model.

Zebra ZD500R full set of ports

ZD500R Ports

Loading the labels is simple and takes just a couple of seconds. Like the GX, the yellow label guide assembly seems a little flimsy and wobbly, but no problem unless you plan to print tiny labels.

Like just about all clamshell printers, loading the tiny ribbon rolls takes a little practice, again this is only to be expected.

I loaded up the printer with our 4×2 inch RFID label and as soon as I closed the lid, the printer quickly calibrated both the label position and the RFID and was ready to use.

After loading the Seagull driver, I used an existing BarTender format and it printed and encoded perfectly.

Conclusion

The ZD500R isn’t intended for big printing and encoding jobs. For the company looking to print and encode RFID labels for DoD compliance, or in-store item tagging, it might be the perfect solution.

What I like

  • Great print and RFID performance in a small form-factor
  • Shares the UI with other Zebra printer models
  • Full set of connectivity ports
  • Zebra’s Link-OS and all the other cool new stuff
  • Competitive price – around $2k list, but most will pay less

What I Don’t Like

  • Not made in USA

Would I Buy One?

For a low volume RFID job – yes!

Do you need to improve your labeling operations? ID Technology can certainly help. Call us  toll free at: 888-438-3242 Option#3 or you can contact me directly at dholliday@idtechnology.com

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Comments

  1. Hi,
    I need to read the tag ID, to store it to DB and to print the content on the label (18mm height). Calibration and positioning are perfect, BUT the printing head and the RFID antenna are pointing at two different labels. If I have to synch from the app, I waste one label per one printed (this is not a batch print). Could the firmware of ZD500R gives me any solution?

    Thanks
    Krassi

  2. Hello Mr. Holliday,

    How come it’s a con that the printer isn’t “Made in the USA”? Do other countries not have quality engineering and manufacturing capabilities?

    Best Regards,

    John Nguyen | Production Control Labeler | AMRESCO, LLC.
    6681 Cochran Rd | Solon, OH 44139 | : 440.914.3377
    e-mail: jnguyen@amresco-inc.com
    pure | precise | performance

  3. David Holliday says:

    John, thanks for visiting our site and for your comment. Of course, there is a lot of high quality engineering and manufacturing in many countries.

    I work for an American manufacturing company and I support local business whenever possible. Clearly this doesn’t always work out (I’m certainly not typing this on a US made computer), but I think we should all do what we can. Over the last couple of years the scope of Labeling News has changed somewhat and product reviews seem to be a thing of the past. In the label printing world, I think there is just one company making thermal transfer printers in the US and I think that will change before too long.

    What kind of label printers and technologies do you use at your company?

  4. We use an assortment of printers:

    SATO and Zebra printers for one-color thermal transfer printing.
    QuickLabel Systems (Made in USA): QLS 2000Xe and 4100Xe , and Plexo 453 for GHS compliant thermal transfer.
    RENA USA (Mach X Inkjet printer) for specific custom jobs.

    I appreciate your reviews on various label equipment, etc. It’s all very informative, and unfortunately uncommon in this industry. Keep up the good work!

    Thanks,

    John Nguyen | Production Control Labeler | AMRESCO, LLC.
    6681 Cochran Rd | Solon, OH 44139 | : 440.914.3377
    e-mail: jnguyen@amresco-inc.com
    pure | precise | performance

  5. David Holliday says:

    Thanks – let us know if we can do anything to help.

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