The Brother Label Makers

P-Touch 1090

When the brown cardboard box was delivered via courier to my door I have to admit, I was a little excited. It felt like Christmas. It’s not often large parcels are delivered to my home, mid-day and bearing my name. It was fun. I ran up the stairs, tore through the packing tape, opened the box flaps and pulled out layer upon layer of packing paper. Nestled within? Two hand-held Brother label makers, the P-Touch 1090 and the P-Touch 1290.

With the back-to-school season of sales firmly on retailer’s door-steps, what could be more useful than a label maker to help busy moms like me get my child and myself organized. So, armed with a label maker each, my 12 year-old daughter and I set out to label the better part of our collective possessions to see how they worked, what we liked and didn’t like and to determine whether or not we would recommend them.

My daughter much preferred the smaller version, the P-Touch 1090. It fit easily in her hand, she was able to read and follow the directions completely on her own, and within 20 minutes she was happily labeling everything in sight. Her labels found their way onto her binders, notebooks, a three-hole punch, a bottle of white out, folders, dividers, my iPhone, etc. You name it, it’s been labeled. She liked the “cool”, decorative border selections, the font options and the key pad, which is laid out in alphabetical order and is very simple to use. She would have liked more colour options – the standard tape included is white; the ink, basic black -  but overall, she was pleased.

I, on the other-hand, spent most of my time working with the larger model, the P-Touch 1290. The instructions for this model are also easy to follow, it’s keypad is laid out not alphabetically but like a key board, which I preferred, and it offers many of the same features for fonts and decorative borders as it’s smaller cousin. But to me, decorative features are not important. As a busy mom who runs a small consulting company, blogs, takes care of an active child, is a wife, daughter, friend, sister, neighbour and yoga enthusiast, I am not concerned about bells and whistles. I want labels that are fast and easy to make and that stay put. No frills necessary. The first thing I did after figuring it out was to label a Tupperware container full of leftover Chinese food destined for my freezer. Leftovers are BIG in my world. With a child who does not like sandwiches, today’s leftovers are next week’s school lunches. I needed to know if that baby would stick through freezing. The answer: Yes. Score BIG points for that.

P-Touch 1290

However, the whole process was a little too long and cumbersome for my liking. To be brutally honest, I could have labeled by hand with a pen several containers in the time it took me to print out just one Brother label. And I’m just not that concerned with whether or not the labels in my freezer have a pretty border. Get them on, get it in: That’s my motto.

My other issue was with the cost. The “big brother” label maker, pardon the pun, the P-Touch 1290, retails for $59.99. The P-Touch 1090 is $49.99. Both require 6 (yes, six!) AAA batteries, not included. And get this: There is an AC adapter for both models, but it is not included either. I can’t remember ever before buying a small appliance and opening it only to discover there was no plug to plug in!  The adapter is available, for an additional $29.99. Coloured tapes are also available but, you guessed it, not included.

In general, I would say that the label makers are a fun novelty to have around, and my daughter, several weeks later, is still asking everyone in the house if there is anything we would like labeled. She has gone back to the P-Touch 1090 many times. But for the price, the limited accessories included, and the fact that I can already picture myself on a not-so-distant future date rummaging for batteries because the label maker is dead, frustrated because I don’t happen to have six AAAs on hand, and really ticked off because the manufacturer didn’t see fit to include the plug!  At the end the day, at the end of my long, busy days, sometimes it’s just easier to grab the masking tape and a Sharpie. And masking tape sure does freeze well!

Would I buy it? No, but my daughter is very happy to have one!

Leave a Reply