Label Printer Brands: TSC vs Zebra

Label Printer Brands: TSC vs Zebra

If you use label printers regularly, you’ve probably heard of Zebra, Datamax or even Honeywell. These popular brands have been in the barcode and labelling business for many years. Time and time again, they have proven to be a highly respected, with high-quality products, service and printing technologies that are difficult to match – or so we thought.

Enter TSC.

Taiwan Semiconductor Company (TSC) offer printers that are very comparable to Zebra and Honeywell in respect to specifications, printing quality and features. What is more important however, is that they sell at much lower prices.

So it sounds like they’re a seriously good option. But are they really that good?

About TSC

Many people do not realize it, but TSC actually engineered the very first desktop printers for Zebra, so they definitely know what they are doing. For many years they have been an OEM manufacturer (making printers for other brands). It’s not surprising then that they decided to offer their own first-rate line of label printers.

TSC are now a leading manufacturer and have sold more than five million printers worldwide. They pride themselves on dedicated product and engineering support and their ability to tailor solutions to fit unique printing needs for all businesses, from small organisations to Fortune 500 companies.

Compare the Pair

Like Zebra, TSC offer a number of different products, including desktop printers, mobile printers, industrial printers, and high-end enterprise printers. Desktop and Industrial printers are the most common, so we have compared the two brands below.

Desktop label printers

Zebra desktop printers range from the ZD200 series to the ZD600 series. Each printer in the range is available in direct thermal and thermal transfer models. The lower range thermal transfer models only offer 74m maximum ribbon length.

TSC, however, offers the DA200 series which is thermal direct only, and then the TE and TX series are both thermal transfer only. All thermal transfer models offer 300m maximum ribbon length.

In terms of connectivity both brands are pretty similar. They each offer versions with USB only, all the way up to Ethernet, Bluetooth and Wi-fi depending on the model.

Industrial label printers

Industrial label printers can be roughly broken into low, middle, and high range printers.

Zebra offers this with the ZT200, ZT400 and ZT600 series, ranging from low to high specs.

TSC’s equivalent is the MB, MH and MX series. Like the ZT200 series, the MB series are value leaders for 4-inch wide light industrial label printing. Both the ZT200 and MB series come in variants with and without an LCD display.

The TSC MH Series is on par with Zebra’s ZT400 series. Ideally suited to high capacity label printing in tough environments, these printers will do the job for many applications. The benefit of the MH series is that you can interchange printheads for a higher or lower dpi to achieve a different print quality. Zebra offers printers with different DPI, but the printheads are not interchangeable, meaning if you want to switch you would have to buy a whole new printer.

For extremely high throughput and rugged durability, you would be more suited to using Zebra’s ZT600 series or the MX Series from TSC. The ZT600 series offers print speeds of up to 14 inches per second, while the MX series can do a whopping 18 inches per second!

The Verdict

If using a well-known and established brand is important to you, then Zebra is the way to go. They are well and truly established in the printing industry and have a huge market share world-wide. If you already have a portfolio of Zebra printers, it may be worth sticking to them to avoid compatibility issues and learning a new interface.

However, TSC offers some truly great printers and are a serious contender to take over the market with their technology. At the time of writing, TSC printers are cheaper and have much shorter lead times. Spares are more accessible and the printers ship with a longer warranty period.

If you are looking for a label printer with high quality, low prices, and easy-to-use features, TSC is definitely worth considering! Contact us if you are interested in learning more about the TSC models we offer.

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