One of my most underrated gadgets is a Dymo Turbo 400 label printer. I bought this model about three years ago to replace an old Dymo EL60 that had given me five good years of service. Its main purpose is to print address labels, but it also does labels for file folders, electronic postage, and just about anything else that will fit on an adhesive label. Printing addresses directly on an envelope is a PITA, but spitting out a perfectly formatted label complete with USPS-compliant bar code is easy. (That model has since been replaced with the DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo , which is the same price but has a few extra bells and whistles.)
The Dymo Label software has evolved over the years and includes three pieces:
- A set of printer drivers
- An application that is both a form-filler and a label designer
- Add-ins for Outlook, Word, and QuickBooks
I hooked up the printer to a new PC today and couldn’t find the printer drivers, so I decided to check Dymo’s support site. They had up-to-date drivers for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, including both x86 and x64 versions. And in one of those nice little accidents of timing, I discovered that the company had just released an update to its Dymo Label software yesterday.
The software is 32-bit only, but it installed perfectly on my Windows 7 x64 system, and when I checked the readme file I was surprised to see that the new version supports Office 2010, which was released to manufacturing last month but won’t officially be released to retail customers until June. It also has a modern layout that uses the Office Ribbon interface:
If my records are correct, this model was introduced in early 2006, nearly a year before Windows Vista was formally launched. I’ve run into plenty of hardware companies that have abandoned their pre-Vista devices completely or did a half-hearted 32-bit update and then moved on to new stuff (yes, Fujitsu, I’m looking at you). So the fact that this device has new 64-bit drivers and updated software designed for Office 2007 is admirable. And it was a free upgrade.
The other impressive part of the whole setup was the way the Windows Homegroup feature detected that a new printer had been added to the machine and offered to set it up on the other Windows 7 PCs in the Homegroup. I had tested this stuff last year when writing Windows 7 Inside Out but hadn’t added a new printer to the network lately. It literally took two clicks to set up the shared printer and add it to the Windows 7 Device Center.
Props to Dymo for taking care of its longtime customers. I wish more hardware companies did that.
13 thoughts on “A Windows 7 hardware success story”
I wish HP had been a little better about some of its older products, although I think part of that was due to some of them having used third-party wire protocols. At some point I’m getting rid of my printer and picking up one that uses generic PostScript, and saving myself a lot of hassle.
heh odd. I decided to update our Fedex machine from Windows XP to Windows 7 64bit last week.
Everything went well except two things:
Fedex software couldn’t automatically read the weight from the scale. (No big deal since the readout is easily viewable on the scale itself).
When it came time to print a label it would not print anything. Test prints from Fedex, Test prints from Windows worked fine but the label itself would be blank when printing a label.
#2 turned out to be a driver issue….unfortunately their was no 64bit version of the working driver so I had to revert back to Windows 7 32bit which works fine and the labeler worked fine.
Scale still didn’t work even on 7 32bit….again no big deal.
Obviously buying a new labeler would work but we are trying to get people to use the online FEDEX site so no point in wasting money.
Unfortunately this is now the only machine in the company running 7 32bit every other computer is running 7 64bit or XP 32bit.
DosFreak, wouldn’t that have been an ideal use for Windows Virtual PC?
Wait — Ribbon interface? The screenshot of Dymo Label has a traditional menubar. Maybe this was the old version, rather than the new one?
Sometimes the small companies do better than the big companies at driver compatibility. It all depends on who’s in charge in their driver dev group, and what their attitude is.
Unfortunately that wasn’t my experience with the previous generation LabelWriter 320. I was told my specific model number wasn’t compatible with anything beyond XP, so to reach the Dymo claimed lifetime of 2 million labels I’ve got to hope that my laptop holds out.
Strangely, the less I’ve spent on a peripheral, the better the Windows 7 support has been. My incredibly cheap (and old) Samsung laser printer had Windows 7 x64 drivers available before the official release of Windows 7, as did my really cheap Xerox scanner. My expensive label printer, webcam and wireless dongle had (still have) absolutely no support from the manufacturers.
Thanks for that, Stan. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but one blog reports that the reason the EL 310/320 have no Vista/7 drivers is because they use a USB chipset that Microsoft dropped support for.
Yeah but it would be:
Would be a more complex configuration
Would rely on MS supporting VPC. (They’ve shown ever since they bought VPC that they don’t think much of it except as a throwaway product…ie updates are exremely infrequeny so whatever vulnerabilities are there are no longer studied).
Would require 2 products to be updated instead of one,
I already had a 7 32bit image ready in case of this eventuallity so it was no issue.
Windows Virtual PC is now a fully supported part of Windows, especially for corporate sites. You’re thinking of the old Virtual PC. In fact, the code is included with Windows 7 and just needs to be enabled. Things have really changed in this regard.
Not too suprising a scenario for a printer. If you recall, printer companies make money of ink/toner and not the printer. If you couldn’t print anymore, the profit potential for this little printer would go away. So they are pretty much forced to update the software quickly to ensure continual company profit.
We’ve been using the Dymo printers and software to print address labels in our small office for many years. Unfortunately, we’ve had problems on Vista and Windows 7, where the software will at some point no longer be able to find the printer (although it appears in Printers and will print test pages as expected). Dymo support has been less than helpful, so we end up uninstalling the printers, drivers, and software, then reinstalling everything from scratch. That makes it work fine again until next time it happens. With about a dozen PCs involved, this software issue has got us looking at alternative printers for the first time in over 10 years.
The screenshot doesn’t show an “Office Ribbon interface.” Was this the older version?
Scott: If you’ve been following Ed’s columns, you will know that plenty of printer companies have dropped drivers for older printers.
Dymo is a nice exception. Actually, small(er) companies are sometimes surprisingly competent when it comes to drivers. I guess it all depends on the attitude of the people running the driver dev group at the company.
Did you know that Dymo is a subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid?! Wouldn’t have guessed it.
Tom, you are correct that this is technically not the Office Fluent (ribbon) interface. I probably should have said that the new interface is similar in feeling to the Office ribbon, unlike the old software, which used toolbars.
I am glad that they have improved.
I bought a LabelManager PC not long before Vista came out, but Dymo did not upgrade the drivers from XP, which was a disapointment.
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