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Tim’s Hardware Review: Print Barcode Labels Anytime, Anywhere with Zebra Barcode Printers

Written by Tim Ingles
November 7, 2019

Augment your supply chain enterprise mobility strategy with Zebra mobile printers.

Augment your supply chain enterprise mobility strategy with Zebra mobile printers.

Did you know you can print barcode labels from anywhere, to anywhere? Even between two different locations? Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? That’s the edge Zebra can bring to your warehouse with its comprehensive array of modern barcode label printers.

In this review, I will be exploring the latest generation of barcode label printers: the mobile rugged Zebra ZQ600 series, the ZD600 series rugged desktop printers, and the light industrial ZT200 series.

Mobile barcode and receipt printers like Zebra’s ZQ630 allow your team to print anywhere they work, especially useful for receiving and putaway. The stationary desktop ZD600s and ZT200s provide the ability to print labels at volume in the warehouse, office or healthcare setting.

All of these printers make use of Wi-Fi connectivity. (More on that later.)

Before jumping to the printers themselves, I want to explain why barcode and receipt printers are so important to your supply chain’s enterprise mobility strategy.

Extend Enterprise Mobility with Zebra Barcode Printers

Having a mobile strategy in your warehouse, manufacturing or maintenance operation is crucial in today’s digital supply chain. Equipping your workers with handheld mobile devices like mobile computers, tablets and wireless barcode scanners extends your ERP to point-of-work. ERP mobility is widely recognized as providing major benefits in inventory accuracy, productivity, efficiency and more.

You’ve put in all this effort to integrate enterprise mobile devices into your technical ecosystem and digitize manual processes. But what happens when warehouse personnel need to print a barcode label?

Do they walk across the facility to someone’s office? Does someone have to print out sheets of labels beforehand? What if that employee is 20 feet above the floor on a scissor lift doing a putaway and they discover a crucial mistake on one of the labels and it needs to be re-printed?

There’s a Zebra barcode label printer for each these situations, starting with:

Printing On-the-Go: Zebra ZQ600 Series Mobile Barcode Label Printers

Zebra's print anywhere, anytime ZQ600 series mobile barcode and receipt printer.

The latest series of Zebra’s rugged mobile barcode label and receipt printers is the ZQ600 line. This incredible hardware series enables workers to take-and-make labels to wherever they need to work. I can’t emphasis enough how much flexibility and productivity the ZQ600s give your teams while handling inventory. Remember the example I gave about the employee on the scissor lift? With a ZQ600 series, they can print labels right off the printer clipped to their belt.

My personal favorite in the series is the Zebra ZQ630, which sports a high capacity 6800 mAH battery for extra-long life, the industry’s only instant wake-up over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and 802.11r “fast roaming” that enables fast, secure handoffs between Wi-Fi access points. Customers use the ZQ630 for printing labels or receipts in warehousing, manufacturing, transportation/logistics, retail and industry settings.

Form Factor: Rugged
OS: Link-OS with connectivity to iOS, Android, Windows Mobile
Features: Best-in-class battery capacity, easy load and tear, color display, CPCL/ZPL/EPL programming languages, 5- to 6-foot drop to concrete, IP43 dust/water resistance (IP54 with case), accessories
Print Specs: Direct thermal, 1D & 2D barcodes, up to 4.1 in./104 mm print width
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (ZebraNet 802.11ac, 802.11r fast roaming support), Bluetooth 4.1 (Classic and BLE), 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0 Mini-B
Variants: ZQ610, ZQ620, ZQ630

Why I love the Zebra ZQ600 Series

  • Print from anywhere. On-the-go, in real time, inside the warehouse or from a different location.
  • Easy to use with a snap-in “clamshell” design, tear bar for label paper and a handy belt clip.
  • Flexibility makes employees more productive. Reduces commuting back and forth between desktop printers and inventory locations.
  • Powerful Battery with highest capacity in its class, built-in power management, and an option for the Extended Capacity Li-Ion smart battery.
  • High temperature tolerance: Operates in extreme environments from -4°F to 122°F (-20°C to 50°C)

Built for Performance: Zebra’s ZD620 Desktop Printers

Zebra's ZD620 midrange workhorse desktop label and receipt printer series.

Zebra’s ZD620 rugged desktop is a workhorse. This midrange piece of printer hardware delivers both best-in-class print speed and premium print quality, making it ideal for everyday barcode and receipt label printing. ZD620s are easy and intuitive to use and highly versatile, operating with equal comfort in virtually any environment, from the warehouse to the office, in manufacturing facilities, retail and healthcare.

Additional flexibility comes from the ZD620’s backwards compatibility and its ability to go cordless – not a feature you would expect on a stationary desktop printer.

With the ZD620t, you gain an abundance of additional features, such as thermal transfer printing that creates high quality, long-lasting labels and makes use of stronger adhesives. It also has the option to take high-capacity ribbons (“intelligent dual-ribbons”) to reduce ribbon changes by 75%, minimizing workflow interruptions.

Form Factor: Rugged
OS: Link-OS with connectivity to iOS, Android, Windows Mobile
Features: Best-in-class print speed, easy loading with OpenACCESS, color display, ZPL/EPL programming languages, simple manageability
Print Specs: Ribbon-based thermal transfer or direct thermal, 203 dpi/8 dots per mm up to 300 dpi/12 dots per mm, 1D & 2D barcodes, up to 4.65 in./118 mm print width
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.1 (Classic and BLE), 10/100 Ethernet, Serial, USB 2.0 and USB Host
Variants: ZD620d, ZD620t, ZD620 Healthcare

Why I Love the Zebra ZD620 Series

  • Easy to use and reload. High capacity ribbons add a further boost to productivity.
  • Wi-Fi printing. Print to this device from anywhere on your network, even another facility.
  • Great value for all the features and additional functionality you gain using Zebras printer software.
  • Small but fierce. Compact size is ideal for placement in environments short on table space.

Made for Volume: Zebra ZT200 Series Desktop Printers

Zebra ZT200 series light industrial high-volume desktop label and receipt printers.

When you need a powerful printer that is cost-effective and capable of handling volume, the Zebra ZT200 series has you covered. Built specifically for high-volume printing in light industrial and commercial environments, ZT200 printers are stationary desktop solutions that offer more ruggedness than the smaller, lighter ZD620s. The ZT200s also give you a wide array of advanced printer functions as well, many of which make remote management simpler.

In the series, I find the ZT230 to be popular. Built with an all-metal case for greater durability in more rugged environments, the value you receive for the cost delivers surprising bang for your buck. Part of what makes the ZT230 and ZT220 such great hardware solutions is the fact that Zebra developed these models based on extensive customer feedback.

That says just as much for Zebra Technologies as a company as it does for the ZT200 hardware.

Form Factor: Rugged / Light Industrial
OS: Link-OS with connectivity to iOS, Android, Windows Mobile
Features: Compact space-saving design, easy to load and use, high print precision and volume, graphical interface, low maintenance, options and accessories
Print Specs: Ribbon-based thermal transfer or direct thermal, 203 dpi/8 dots per mm up to 300 dpi/12 dots per mm, 1D & 2D barcodes, up to 4.5 in./114 mm print width
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), 10/100 Ethernet, Serial RS-232, USB 2.0
Variants: ZT220, ZT230

Why I love the Zebra ZT200 Series

  • Versatile and powerful. Ideal for use in manufacturing, transportation and logistics, government, retail, healthcare and more.
  • Fast, precise and reliable. Color-coded UI simplifies printing high quality labels in different formats.
  • Outstanding value. Incorporated Zebra user feedback helped create a printer loaded with features you need and want.
  • Simple to maintain with tool-less, removable parts, interchangeable options and only three common tools need to service.

Go Beyond Handhelds with Enterprise-wide Wi-Fi Printing

After taking a look at these three printer series from Zebra Technologies, you can see how necessary they are for a number of applications and scenarios. Each of these printers comes equipped with Link-OS, which simplifies remote manageability and lowers IT burden for maintenance. Zebra’s Print DNA suite of applications, utilities and developer tools extend the functionality and versatility of printing hardware even further.

Let’s wrap up by returning to the worker performing a putaway on the scissor lift. They need a new barcode label but would have to lower the lift, move it, lock it, and return to a computer workstation to generate and print a new label.

Whew! That one interruption could cost the employee 15 minutes or more for one barcode label.

Using one of these Zebra printers, they could have instead:

  • Printed a new label on-demand from their belt-clipped ZQ600.
  • Contacted a co-worker on a walkie-talkie, phone or via text to send a new label to the ZQ600, which prints right from the worker’s belt.
  • Assuming they had to dismount the scissor lift for another reason, they could have printed a new barcode at a nearby ZD620, even if the computer that sent the print command was located in a different building.
  • Finished with that task, sent a print command from his handheld mobile computer to a stationary ZT200 series located elsewhere for 1,000 new barcode labels. They print while the worker secures the lift and walks to the printer. The labels are ready upon arrival, enabling the worker to move onto their next task without a break in productivity.

Zebra printers created productivity gains in all four of those scenarios.

If you are operating aging, broken or obsolete label printers, maybe it’s time to modernize your printing practices with an upgrade to Zebra’s latest offering. Your team will thank you for it.

Want to learn more about what Zebra hardware can do for you? Let’s chat.