Shipping label printers aren’t anything fancy, but as small business owners, we lean on them a lot to help keep our business moving. Finding a quality printer is paramount. We don’t necessarily notice or think about it when things work well, but we’re definitely eagle-eyed when these cuboid printers start misbehaving.
HP is no stranger to printers and has been producing them for decades. They’ve recently expanded their brand into other desktop devices like document scanners and shipping label printers. I recently reviewed their newest branded document scanners: the portable PS100 and the desktop PS200 document scanners. Likewise, I also took a look at the compact KE100 thermal label printer that mimics the rear-loading design of printers like the Rollo X1040 and Nelko thermal label printer. This review will dive into the larger roll-holding sibling of the KE100, the KE200 shipping label printer.
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Released in September 2022, the HP HPKE200 is a table-top shipping label printer that looks similar to the PitneyShip Cube but without a scale. HP says the printer is "commercial grade," though it's not immediately obvious what makes it so. The larger cube-shaped footprint allows it to hold a label roll inside the unit like the LabelWriter 4XL and PitneyShip Cube on this list.
- Fast printing (1 label per second)
- Labels are clear and scannable
- Setup and driver installation are quick; no extra software is needed
- Works with any shipping platform
- One of the fastest printers we’ve tested
- Use any thermal label stock to print shipping labels.
- On the higher-end of the price spectrum for roll-holding label printers of this class
- Doesn't hold 500-label rolls
Comparison & Alternatives
HP KE200 Unboxing and Setup
Like its smaller sibling, the KE200 is packaged well, with the getting started guide and various cabling. Everything is what I’ve come to expect from an HP device, with adequate but not over-the-top padding and sufficient divisionsary compartments.
It only takes a couple of minutes to get everything hooked up. The KE200 has an external power supply that’s a typical size among most thermal label printers I’ve come across: 24V 2.5A AC to DC brick, outputting 60 watts.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve run low on labels I can openly burn in my testing, so I bought a roll of 4×6″ shipping labels from Amazon.
In attempting to load the roll into the printer, it became apparent that the KE200 wasn’t designed to hold 500-label rolls. This appears to be one of those printers that only holds 320-label rolls, though there is zero indication of such a limitation.
For my test, I took 50 labels off my 50-label roll to make it a 450-label roll, and things seemed to fit okay, albeit a bit snuggly. The HP WorkSolutions site (where you can also find the necessary drivers for this printer) sells rolls of 4×6″ labels in 250-sheet quantities. They are expensive for what they are at $36 for 2×250-label rolls, and you’ll be just fine ordering any thermal labels from your favorite retailer.
The HP KE200 shipping label printer is a 203 DPI printer, so the produced labels are good enough but could be a little better. Each label came out quickly and consistently, and the device had no trouble finding the separations between each label or needed calibration. A 25-label test run saw all 25 labels come out in just over 26 seconds (adding an extra second for spool time from when I clicked the PRINT button on my computer to the first label popping out).
HP also offers the slightly more expensive HP KE203 with 300 DPI printing at 7 inches per second for an extra $20. On the one hand, it’s only $20, but on the other, it’s crossing the psychological $200 threshold for a USB-only desktop thermal label printer.
Wired Print Tests
- On macOS, whenever I printed a label, I had to set the paper size to 4×6″. The default seems to be 8.5″ x 11″, and the printer does not automatically detect the label like the Rollo X1040. Looking more closely at the printer’s configuration, the HP KE200 appropriately declares the default page size, but macOS is not picking it up.
The HP KE200 Shipping Label Printer works well and gets the job done. It’s a little pricier regarding roll-holding shipping label printers (especially if you opt for the higher-DPI and faster brother, the KE203), but otherwise, it checks all the cursory boxes. Labels come out quickly. Each label is easy to read and easily scannable. No software is required to use the printer (besides printer drivers). If you’re looking for a shipping label printer and don’t have a lot of desk space, the HP KE200 will get the job done.
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