Do you print labels from your word processor or database on an old ink jet or laser printer? If so, you know what a pain it can be. You have to organize and format the data carefully, and lay out pesky margins and calculate spacing so a single label's information prints on only one label. Of course, if you're printing big batches of similar labels, especially with addresses or information that you'll use repeatedly, it's worth the trouble to set up and maintain a database. But otherwise it's overkill. So save yourself some time and trouble and take a look at a label printer.

This is where a dedicated label printer excels. Several vendors make modest little label printers that sit inconspicuously on your desk, attach to your PC, and zip out labels at your demand. There are "dual-function" devices, that can attach toh your PC or you can carry it around and enter data on a built-in keyboard. These products come with software for organizing and formatting your data for printing labels.

Thermal-label and envelope printers for PCs have been around for a decade now. If you want to print only an occasional labels, you can probably get by with the $25 to $75 handheld electronic label makers.

PC-connected label printers generally sell in the $100 to $250 range. Some are available as hand-helds as well, meaning they have batteries and their own keyboards. But these inexpensive label printers can't do it all, and they have hidden cost: Laminated tapes cost from 50 cents to $1 a foot.

CD label printers are a device used to print labels on CD-R discs using ink jet or thermal printing technology and only printable CD-R media can be used. Label printing is often built into CD duplicators that clean the media, record the data and print the label automatically. CD label printers also print on printable DVD-R media and may be advertised as CD/DVD printers.

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