Last Updated: Nov 30, 2022 12 min read

Rollo Wireless Printer X1040 Review (2022)

Rollo Wireless Printer X1040 Review (2022)

The Rollo X1040 wireless thermal printer continues the legacy of its reliable wired sibling with a fresh look.

A quality shipping label printer is critical to running a successful e-commerce business. Printing clean, high-quality shipping labels fast and without hassle from all devices is paramount to getting things done quickly and returning to running the business.

I've used a half-dozen shipping label printers over the years, from Dymo to Zebra, and even past versions of the printer Rollo offers. The Rollo Wireless Printer X1040 is one of my favorites, hands down. I've included it in my best printers list because of Rollo's reputation and ease of use.

This review will dive into the Rollo Wireless Printer X1040 in detail and see what makes it so great.

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For this review, Rollo reached out to let me know they were working on a wireless version of their first label printer. Rollo was very gracious in that they lent me a new unit to borrow and spend some time with and use, along with a label holder and a stack of 500 of their 4x6 shipping labels.

Unboxing and First Impressions

Focusing on the printer first, the outside packaging appears well done. It's the level of detail I would expect from a device appearing on retail store shelves. I don't remember the packaging being this nice when I owned one of the original Rollo printers. As a brand that sells primarily on Amazon and its site, it didn't have to spend this much time on its packaging but chose to. I have to give them a nod for that alone. Things are improving exponentially over there, and I'm here for it.

The Inside of the Rollo printer box with a welcome message and instructions on how to set it up.

Opening the box reveals a handful of printed materials worth reviewing. Namely, we find a setup card that points us to the Rollo app, a cheat sheet on what all the status indicators on the outside of the printer mean–being a color-coded system is a nice touch–a contact card in case you or I get stuck, and a neat little sample pack of labels… 15 to be exact.

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Aside: I've seen a few folks struggle with their Rollo blinking red. This error indicates that the printer isn't confident about the label size, and it needs to (re) learn. Press and hold the top button until it beeps once. The printer will start measuring and sensing the label.

A message on the back of the sample labels reads, "this side should face down." "Should" is generous. "Must" is more accurate; this printer–as with just about every thermal printer on the planet, only prints on one side. Included with the sample labels is an alcohol pad. There are no specific directions on its use, but I suspect Rollo had it for printer cleaning (never use soap).

Next up in the box is the Rollo X1040 printer itself. If you've owned the wired Rollo X1038 or one of the Chinese knock-offs like it, you'll recognize the shape. Weighing in at 906g or one pound and 15.96 oz, this type of printer falls into the category that I like to affectionately call "InO" or "In-’n’-Out," with no relation to the fast-food chain. Labels enter on one side and get served out the other. Woodworkers will recognize this type of motion in planers. (Thermal label printers are quieter, less noisy, cheaper, and smaller, though.) The printer measures 182 millimeters or 7.17 inches wide, 82 millimeters or 3.23 inches deep, and 88 millimeters or 3.46 inches tall–91.5 millimeters or 3.6 inches with its feet.

The unit feels solid and sturdy, and the opening and closing mechanism doesn't have any extra give. The exterior finish is shiny plastic. If it were in anything but white, I'd be mildly concerned with fingerprints–I had a piano-finish black iPhone 7 Plus, so I'll speak from experience on that one. The finger latch to open the printer is strong, though it's not apparent that it is to be pressed toward the front of the printer and has a bit of a curve to its motion. You'll see what I mean if you find yourself pushing the top more than the bottom.

Last in the box is an AC 100-240v power brick of the 24-volt, 2.5-amp output variety with a barrel connector. If you ever have to replace it, you'll have no trouble–it's a standard power supply. The wall-end of the power supply uses a C13 plug so go nuts with those international power cables. The Rollo logo is on the top of the power supply, which is neat. In a world where we have external power bricks for many of our electronics, knowing which brick belongs to what devices by visual identification help; some of us label everything, and Rollo is trying to save us from ourselves.

Rollo Labels

A box of Rollo thermal labels with its included help card.

Each Rollo X1040 ordered from the Rollo site comes with a complimentary pack of 4x6" labels, which is a nice bonus. You'll be greeted with a more muted but still unquestionably Rollo package when opening. The stack of 500 Rollo labels clocks in at 1,208g or two pounds and 10.61 oz and measures 156 millimeters by 106 millimeters by 74 millimeters (6.14 inches by 4.17 inches by 2.91 inches). The 500-stack of labels expands linearly in a fan-fold style; unfolded, the top-most label faces down, with the second label facing up. The back also has Rollo branding like the samples.

The plastic wrap is easy to remove, and they smell like paper. What can I say? They're labels. We'll see how well they print later.

The printer's top surface features two-button indicators: the square feed button and a smaller, less-obvious-a-button Wi-Fi button. Around the back are the ports: power and USB and a dedicated on-off switch.

With the labels placed behind the printer, you'll need about 30 centimeters by 20 centimeters (12 inches x 8 inches) of a work surface to put your setup. With the in-and-out printing method, this isn't uniquely a Rollo problem. While it's majorly the product of the label assembly method, it's decidedly more than label printers that hold the label rolls inside themselves.

Rollo Label Holder

The Rollo label holder. It remains unchanged from the release of the Rollo X1038 wired printer. Apple AirPods for scale. 

We have the Rollo label holder to complete the kit, suitable for managing fan-fold and roll labels. It is the exact or, at least from memory, quite nearly the identical holder I had a few years back with my original Rollo printer.

It assembles well enough, and I had no trouble holding my roll labels back then, nor does it have a problem now. Its presence will add substantial work surface real estate consumption, clocking in at 234 millimeters by 151 millimeters (9.21 inches by 5.94 inches) of consumed desk space. If you're working with exclusively fan-fold labels, I'd argue it's unnecessary, but if you want to pair a roll of thermal labels with the Rollo printer, it's a great addition.

Software and Configuration

Properly functioning and good quality Rollo thermal label printers are table stakes for folks like you and me. For this review, I wanted to dive head-first into setting it up wirelessly, as they recommend.

Plugging in power and turning it on for the first time, I'm greeted with a couple of beeps, a green power indicator (is that a J or a feed symbol? I'm not sure), and a purple-yellow status light that turned white after a few moments. Give it a few more moments, and it'll turn purple (though it's probably not receiving a job like a helper card would have you believe), and a nice little welcome message is expelled from the front of the printer.

Scan the QR code, and you're taken to the Rollo website with links to download the app for iOS and Android. I'm using an iOS device, so I tap that link.

The Rollo app pairs with the printer via Bluetooth. If the printer is never connected to a Wi-Fi network, it supports operating in AP mode, which generates its own Wi-Fi network that mobile devices can use. This is helpful for mobile printing, though if you have a mobile hotspot, the Rollo printer will work with those, too.

Once paired, the app asks for the Wi-Fi network. It's not apparent from the setup or through any material provided, but when attempting to feed it a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, it appeared to have no trouble hooking up. It'll support 2.4GHz Wi-Fi if that's all you have, too. I point this out because support for 5GHz Wi-Fi is not standard. It's a welcome addition.

The printer spewed out a welcome message nearly immediately. A nice touch.

After setup, the Rollo app asks about signing up for a Rollo account. We're skipping that as it's not required to use the printer, nor is this review about the Rollo service. That also means we're entirely done with the Rollo app for this review, though it does come with its perks, like functioning as a mobile shipping station from your phone, so you don't necessarily need a whole computer with you to print shipping labels. The Rollo app also directly ties into the Rollo Wireless Thermal Label Printer, a nice touch, and a few saved taps.

The Rollo wireless printer supports all the common printing standards, so it's not surprising to see it appearing as a potential printer on my computer, with no additional effort on my part. A couple of clicks and 10 seconds later, I'm ready to go there, too. I would expect a similar experience for most computing environments–tablets and mobile devices included.

Time to print some labels!

Printing

With the mediocre WiFi printing performance I received from the FreeX printer, I immediately started printing labels to see how the Rollo unit does. The machine came with a sample set of blank Rollo barcode labels for printing 4x6" shipping labels. I used the sample 4x6 Pirate Ship label PDF. When printing the test label on my computer, The Rollo printer required that I declare the correct paper size, but only from a couple of options. I can't fault the printer for that, necessarily, and it's a nice touch only to see the sizes the printer natively supports. It's progress, and I wonder if it's an operating system limitation not to declare only the correct paper sizes in addition to an "Other" 8.5" x 11" size.

(Aside: during my testing, I had forgotten to change the paper size to 4x6 from the default "Other: 8.5 x 11" that was set on my system; it did not affect anything so far as I can tell–the labels printed just fine and at the correct scale.)

I also printed the label files directly connected to my system over USB; it's essential to compare the two speeds because there's potential for a dramatic difference, as we saw with the FreeX unit.

Here's how I conducted the test:

  • I printed the Pirate Ship test label, wired and wireless, from the Rollo and the Zebra ZP-450 hooked up to an external machine and connected over WiFi. The stats from the ZP-450 are carry-overs from my FreeX review to be used as a baseline.
  • These numbers are an average of five runs in seconds.
  • The 10-label and 25-label tests used the same file, duplicated to have 10 and 25 pages in a single file.
  • The 10-label and 25-label tests mimic batch printing from shipping software.
  • Default print qualities are used. For example, the Zebra ZP-450's default darkness level is 13.5 on a scale of 1-30, and the speed is 5 inches per second. The FreeX's darkness level is eight on a scale of 1-15, and the print speed is 5 inches per second.
  • Time is measured from when the Print button is clicked until the print is complete and the last label has fully emerged.

Testing note: Since the printer supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networks, I did the wireless printing test on both network frequencies to determine if the network frequency (and hence its bandwidth and range) affected the print times. It did not have a measurable effect in testing, so I have not broken out those numbers.

Benchmarks

Single Label

Test Rollo X1040 FreeX Zebra ZP-450
Wi-Fi 6.51s 18.0s 4.75s
USB 10.78s 2.99s 3.01s

10 Labels

Test Rollo X1040 FreeX Zebra ZP-450
Wi-Fi 20.45s DNF 20.24s
USB 26.78s 15.56s 15.82s

25 Labels

Test Rollo X1040 FreeX Zebra ZP-450
Wi-Fi 44.23s DNF 46.24s
USB 10.78s 36.47s 38.44s

Testing Summary

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Editor's Note: The FreeX was unable to print more than eight labels at a time over Wi-Fi in previous testing.

What I found fascinating was that wireless printing was faster than USB. I'm not entirely sure why USB was so much slower, but I'm also not sure if I care in this context. What also surprised me was just how quick wireless printing is with this Rollo unit. Its wireless performance puts it in the same class as my much speedier-per-label ZP-450 and also costs less than that setup. We're reviewing the Rollo X1040 as a wireless thermal printer, so that's how we should judge its performance.

The spool time (the amount of time it takes to get the print job to the printer) for wireless printing averaged about 3.6 seconds, not much longer than my ZP-450 setup. USB printing took about seven seconds. Net per-label print times over wireless were sub-two seconds, averaging 1.6 seconds per label.

When resetting the Wi-Fi to compare 5GHz and 2.4GHz performance, I didn't pay close enough attention to the status indicator card; you might not realize the Wi-Fi status light is also a button. The odds of needing to do this are slim, though, so I'm not sure if this is an issue. I suspect the vast majority of users will set it and forget it. Although this printer supports operating in AP mode (self-contained Wi-Fi network), I did not test its print speed in that fashion.

Keeping in mind that I was doing this on purpose (repeatedly), feeding and re-feeding labels into the machine occasionally caused it to miss the separation between labels (about one in seven). In cases where it missed, nearly half the time, it found the break after a second attempt farther down the label stream, and the rest re-aligned after I pressed the feed button again. Only once did I have to manually re-set.

One of these is the Rollo X1040. The other is the Zebra ZP-450.

I'll skip right to the end on this one. I forgot which of these labels was which I put them on shortly after. One is the Rollo X1040, and the other is the Zebra ZP-450.

Editor's Note: I took way too long to figure this out after the fact, but the right-hand label is the ZP-450. I could only figure that out because the Rollo labels are about a millimeter larger in each dimension than the ones I have in my ZP-450.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The white shell and brightly colored status lights make for a visually appealing design.
  • The price is very competitive with other WiFi-enabled thermal printers.
  • Rollo includes a free pack of 4x6 labels with the purchase of the printer.
  • Wireless print speed is appreciatively snappy.
  • The print quality is clear and consistent.

Cons

  • Required work surface space is more than many internal-roll-holding thermal printers.

Neutrals

  • The app serves little purpose outside of setup unless you have a Rollo account and plan on generating labels in their ecosystem.
  • Resetting Wi-Fi isn't apparent unless you reference the status indicator card. Always read the manual, folks.

Final Verdict

Having owned the previous Rollo X1038, I was already familiar with the quality of Rollo's work coming into this review. They've taken the X1038, updated the outside to make it look like its price point deserves, and made a neat-looking, performant unit. Compared to the dark gray of the X1038, the white pops very well and almost looks too good not to have on display. Printing is quick, consistent, and clear. The performance rivals that of much more expensive and bulkier commercial printers. At $279, it's cheaper than the FreeX printer and comes with a stack of Rollo 4x6 labels ($19.99 retail), giving it a net price of $259.

If you're looking at the Rollo X1038 (dark gray, wired) and this unit, I'd strongly consider spending the extra money. Frankly, it's so good it might even replace my ZP-450 as the new baseline printer for future comparison tests and my daily 4x6 driver. I didn't expect to write those words when I started this review, that's for sure.

Rollo Wireless Thermal Label Printer

One of the best values in thermal printing for wired and wireless use. Built solid with fast and clean printing.

Buy at rollo.com ($279)


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