The market for small desktop label printers is one of the most competitive in the business. It also has strong growth as more organizations are discovering that distributing printing to a number of printers, close to where the label is needed, is often a better option than having centrally located more industrial printers.
Datamax’s contender in this market is the E-Class and it is about to enter its third generation.
Personally, I was never hugely impressed with the first generation and wasn’t bowled over by the second (the E-Class MkII) either. For build quality, features and performance the E-Class always seemed to be a bit behind other products in the same space.
So the new MkIII version of the E-Class is very important for Datamax – what’s it all about?
First let me say that I don’t have all the details – a lot of the links on the Datamax E-Class MkIII microsite are not yet working (you can watch the 3D movie though!).
The E-Class MkIII comes in four versions, Basic, Advanced and Pro and Pro +. Of these, the Pro is by far the most interesting and looks to be the best bet to compete with the Zebra GX which is my current favorite printer in this area.
The MkIII Pro comes with a little LCD display which will be helpful and accepts decent size rolls of labels, 7 inches in diameter (I think you might have to get the Pro + to get this feature). It also allows the use of 300 M rolls of thermal ribbon. Both of these are great and shows Datamax has been listening to the fact that customers are going to want to use these printers for reasonably high volume printing jobs. I’m hoping that the new printer will be a little more robust than previous versions as well – obviously this class of printer is always going to be largely constructed of plastic parts, but it can still be nicely engineered.
As has been the trend of late, the MkIII has a lot of connectivity as standard. Serial, Parallel, USB and Ethernet ports are all included, along with the very useful USB host. I’m happy that the days of having to pick connectivity options when ordering a printer are largely behind us. Wireless LAN and Bluetooth connectivity are available as options for those needing them.
For resolution, I’m assuming 203 and 300 DPI will be offered. I still hope for a 400 or 600 DPI desktop printer (with accurate indexing) at some point though but I think I’ll be waiting for a while.
So the specs of the E-Class MkIII look to be good and I think I’m going to be pleased with the build quality. The nice folks at Datamax have offered to get us a unit to review, so I’ll be able to provide more then.