Does the Zebra ZSB Series label printer earn its stripes?

I still wake up in a cold sweat remembering the nightmare of addressing wedding invitations and thank you notes. Sure, I can still try to figure out how to print them in Word or configure my printer to make it so. But then I have to go to the local Walmart and figure out what size label paper to buy and hope to the heavens that I’ve selected the right format in my Word document. It’s a pain, and, frankly, I hate it. 

Zebra has taken it upon themselves to ease this type of pain with the ZSB Series label printer, and I have to admit, after a few woes, this small device has come in quite handy. 

The Setup

When I opened up the box to the ZSB Series printer, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve never owned a thermal printer before, so I figured there would be a learning curve. I was wrong. The printer is a good size at 6.89” wide, 7.17” long, and only 5.04 “ tall. I expected a USB cable, but the only thing in the box with the printer is the plug, which I wish was a tad less bulky. 

I quickly learned that it felt a lot like setting up an Echo or Bluetooth speaker. I was literally up and running with the new printer within just a few minutes. I started off connecting with my phone as the Bluetooth source for the printer and then slowly migrated over to PC. Unfortunately, connecting to wi-fi printing via PC didn’t happen quite as quickly for me. I did have to head over to the Zebra website and get further instructions on setup, but overall it wasn’t too painful. 

A companion app is available both via phone and PC, but the PC option basically takes you to an online software program to help you create labels. The downside of this? If you don’t happen to have an internet connection, you won’t be creating any labels via PC. While this shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of owners, it is worth noting. Again, the overall setup is quite simple, with a few minor hiccups along the way. I prefer using my PC to design labels, but the mobile app sure makes things easy as well. 

The coolest feature of this printer? It has so many label printing options, and switching labels is so easy. The printer aligns itself for the labels you choose. The entire box of labels fit right into the printer itself. I was nearly confused about putting the labels in and nearly broke the box trying to get them out before I realized I didn’t have to open it. The spool is attached right within the box, and it’s all completely recyclable as well. I simply remove the sticker, drop the new labels in the printer, edit my labels on my phone or PC, and – well – print. Boom! Done. 

The App and Printing

The mobile app for the ZSB Series printer is pretty straightforward and easy to use when I am creating new labels. In fact, there isn’t much to say here. I love that I always know how many labels remain, and there are so many label options to choose from.  If you are looking to print labels from a mobile phone and don’t mind editing them individually, you will love this printer. 

Importing contacts is a different story, and in my experience can only be done via a computer. I attempted to print a friend’s grad labels from a word doc she had created them in. Even while following the step-by-step instructions found on the Zebra website, it was impossible to get it to work right. In fact, I could only ever see the first label, and I could only import the address line. I feel like the step-by-step instructions found online may need some editing and additional FAQs to help set things up properly. 

I decided to chalk this up to a format issue and test out the contact imports Zebra advertises with Google and Outlook. The results were far better. I connected a link from Google docs with ease. The best format for use is an excel style setup where column 1 contains names and column 2 the address with the appropriate title (name/address etc.) as the first row in your column.  While I’m sure given enough time, I could get the Word option to work, it was simply too much of a hassle to deal with. I’ll stick with Excel formatting going forward. I initially thought it would only print one label at a time until I hit the print button. The software then previewed all labels, and I was printing lists in seconds. 

The Verdict

I want to love this label printer, and at the same time, I do love this printer. How does that work? Troubleshooting. As I mentioned, initial setup, printing, and app use are a breeze, but the formatting of pre-made labels took some time to figure out. In hindsight, it seems so simple, and I feel a bit foolish for not figuring it out sooner. Nonetheless, now that I understand how to get some things done after quite a bit of research and troubleshooting, I feel like my life will get a lot easier. It just didn’t feel that way in the process. I can definitely see this thermal printer being an excellent asset for small businesses and those who want a label printing companion. Just be sure to read up on how to import your pre-made labels to save a headache.