FreeX thermal label printer put to the test – say goodbye to ink cartridges
REVIEW – I’ve had a number of multifunction printers over the years (does anyone remember printing on CDs?) And they all more or less did their job. I haven’t had a single-purpose printer yet, however, and that’s where this review leads. Both my wife and I work on consumer products and we always have patterns that come and go. So when FreeX says there is a dedicated label printer that is about 4 × 6 labels and thermal printing, so no cartridges…. good play on!
What is it?
The FreeX thermal label printer is a small desktop device that quickly prints 4 × 6 labels. It works via USB or WiFi and supports rolls up to 600 Label Super Rolls. Thermal printing means you never have to think about ink again.
What’s in the box?
- FreeX thermal label printer
- USB-A cable for wired printing
- power adapter
- Quick start card
- *Note that labels are not included
compatibility: Mac or Windows
Connectivity: USB-A or WLAN
power Input: 24V, 2.4A wall adapter
Label support: 4 × 6 labels or smaller, rolls or fanfold through the rear feed
properties: Thermal printing, label edge detection, self-adjusting roll holder
Design and functions
The FreeX thermal label printer prints labels and is designed to hold a large roll in a small space.
Printing is thermal, so no inks or cartridges, just weekly maintenance. And no cutting off the label and sticking it on a box. Label edges are automatically detected and expanded so that they are always ready for your next print
On the bottom you will find the product label and four large rubber feet that are well spaced to keep the printer stable.
- Make sure you have ordered some labels as none come with the printer. Not even a couple.
- Connect the power supply to the wall and the circular connector on the back of the printer.
- For a Mac, connect the USB cable to the USB-B port on the printer. It’s USB-A on the computer side, so you’ll need an adapter or hub if you’re on a USB-C machine. On Windows, you may want to install the software first to prevent it from autoloading.
- Use the release levers on either side near the leading edge to open the printer.
- The first time you open the printer you’ll need to remove a self-test page, but it also helps highlight how the label guides work. FreeX can pull labels through from the back when using fan-fold labels from a box or a really large roll on a spool. To do this, feed the labels through from the back, tuck the edges under the label guides and then pull a little over the front before closing the lid.
- Here’s a close-up of the label on the back showing how both work.
- FreeX also has an internal roll holder to keep everything neatly tucked away. To load a roll, pull the release lever shown in the photo below to allow the spring-loaded holders to do their job. Pull them apart to load a roll with the labels facing up, tuck the edges under the label guides, then pull them lightly across the front before closing the lid.
- Now you can reach back to turn on the power switch.
- The printer automatically advances the label and detects both the label size and the edge at which the label ends.
- When you need to advance a label, click the large FEED button in the front corner.
Installation for your computer:
- Setup is roughly the same for Mac and PC, and you’ll need to be set up to print via USB first, even if you ultimately want to print via Wi-Fi.
- Head over to FreeX’s website for all of the necessary instructions or watch the fairly comprehensive video.
- You need to download the USB printing installer from your system and follow these instructions first.
- Add the printer through your system preferences, then select the FreeX driver that was installed in the previous step.
- You are now ready to print. Just select Free X as your printer and make sure you select the label size you loaded.
To set up wireless printing on a Mac: (Process may differ under Windows)
- In the folder downloaded during the previous setup there is also an app called “FreeX WiFi …… Toolbox Vx.x”.
- Open that and you will see that it is connected via USB.
- Click on “FreeX-Setup”
- Here the process was different than any printer I’ve set up before.
- There is no drop-down list of available networks that can be used. You need to enter your wireless network name and password and know the nature of the security protocols. It’s probably the default settings there, but you should check it out anyway. It also looks like FreeX doesn’t support 5G networks, FYI. When you’re done, click “Set”
- The printer prints a label with values for IP, SSID, password info, and port #.
- Now go back to your printer / system settings and add a new printer again. You need to add an IP address, enter the IP address on the printed label, and select HP Jetdirect – Socket for the protocol.
- Enter a name for your printer, then select the FreeX software.
- To test, make sure you first unplug the computer cable and select the new printer name you just gave and the label size. Note that there is a delay of a good 10-15 seconds when printing via USB.
When I get a new product, it’s really hard not to dive right in and explore. Since I wrote a few product manuals in my day, I usually read through them before setting anything up, but I seem to have a mental block when it comes to watching videos on installation. That’s the case here and I have to say that the setup tutorial video on the FreeX website is a must because the only guide in the box is a card with a url. I didn’t do it initially and wish I had.
As described in the setup, a label will be printed out with the details when setting up for WiFi. I ended up with 10 or more of these plus a couple of blanks. Not a big deal, but annoying. After watching the video, I could certainly have avoided that. Now that I’ve stood, let’s move on.
Once set up, the FreeX printer is really quick and easy to use. I still buy more than I sell on eBay, but it’s time to unload some things and self-adhesive labels are sure to make that process easier. It’s that simple really, I tell eBay that the label I need to print out is 4 × 6 and then click Print in the dialog box, tear off the label and stick it on the box. Done!
This is what the print dialog looks like on MacOS 11.4 Big Sur …
As with any printer, it is important to check that you have selected the correct printer and size, and not print 80 pages instead of the required 1 page, before you click PRINT. Here is a sample label and one that I still thought I was going to print on letter size paper.
The print is legible and dark enough. Also very durable and does not smear. Absolutely nothing like Chuck E. Cheese’s thermal images. I really like the fact that I don’t have to worry about ink levels or remember to switch from the paper tray to flat sheets of sticky labels only to later forget to remove the exchange and end up with a peel-off and sticky paper get what i did not need.
The space required is quite small, especially if you are using a roll of labels in the printer. If you feed from behind, you double the depth, possibly more.
It also supports batch printing, so you can cut out all of your labels at once, as long as you trust yourself to put the right labels on the right boxes.
What I like
- Special label printing
- Thermal prints, no ink, no cartridges
- Holds large rolls of up to 600 labels
What I would change
- Add a dozen labels to cover the WiFi setup and let the user know they need to order labels while still shipping a box or two.
- Would prefer smarter installation apps that look for WiFi and logs
- Feels a little expensive, but it depends on how much you’re printing and definitely balanced by not using ink
You will need to do your own cost-benefit analysis, but if you have lots of shipping labels to print or you want to label every container in your garage, this might be the solution you are looking for. It doesn’t take up much space and with WiFi it can easily be relegated to a secluded counter near the back door if necessary. This is a sleek one-trick pony that does exactly what it says it does and does it well.
price: $ 199.99
Where to buy: FreeX
source: The sample of this product was provided by FreeX