NIIMBOT B21 Review
It’s no secret that I love label makers. I own a LOT of label makers and I have blogged about them extensively. Every household needs a label maker. I’ll expand that to say that every household needs a couple of label makers for various tasks. NIIMBOT contacted me and asked me to pick any printer in their line up, and they would send it to me to review.
I glanced through their printers and my eyes instantly locked on to the NIIMBOT B21 Thermal Label Maker. If I had to describe my first impression in one word, that word would be “FUN”.
So many of my label makers are industrial looking and huge. The B21 is small, sleek, and retro looking. They promptly sent me one with some extra labels and I’m going to put it through its paces to see how it fares.
Even though NIIMBOT provided me a label maker absolutely no pressure was applied to me to provide a positive review. If it is positive it will be because I think it is positive. I’ll tell you exactly what I think here.
NIIMBOT B21 FIRST IMPRESSIONS
NIIMBOT provided a B21 kit and three additional packages of labels. The labels are white, clear, and clear (round).
The printer is well packaged and fit very tightly in the box. This isn’t going to bounce around in shipping, folks.
The B21 is a really compact and attractive label maker. Additionally, the design appears to be purposely retro. I love retro looking items. Then, my wife took one look at it and was really enamored with its appearance and styling. Somehow I think this label maker will end up in my wife’s hands when I’m done shaking it out.
One of the first things I like to do is to read the instructions to check them for accuracy. I only saw one thing that was a head scratcher, the paper loading instructions. The manual reads:
“Load the paper and make the printing side face the print head.”
I actually installed my paper roll wrong the first time I put it in. I wish the instructions simply said to install the labels “facing down”. Other than that, all was well. There are instructions on where to download the app both on the bottom of the box and in the manual.
I am a Mac and iPhone user. The IOS app is available at the App Store. There does not seem to be a desktop app for Mac OS.
That would be nice but these printers are designed specifically for mobility so I can understand the concept.
It only took me a minute to figure out how to add text and a graphic. You also have the ability to add bar codes, QR codes, and images. Pretty flexible for a small printer. Also, the app seems pretty intuitive to me.
And as a huge plus the app does not try to utilize Location Services on my phone. I hate it when apps want to know where I am.
There are a lot of hardware apps out there that want to know where you are. This one isn’t one of them.
NIIMBOT B21 Specifications
Even though this is a Tech Blog, I’m not much of a specs guy. Hang out long enough in the label world and you’ll see claims that thermal printers should have a minimum of 300 dots per inch. That is absolutely a ludicrous claim. I have shipping label printers that print huge labels at 203 dpi legibly.
The specification for a label maker should say “CAN YOU READ IT?” The B21 outputs a very clear, and crisp 203 dpi. Anyway, here are the specs that are important to me:
- 203 dpi
- Connects via bluetooth
- 60 mm per second (mm/s) printing speed
- 20 – 50 mm label widths supported
- 1200 mAh battery capacity
- Ability to batch print
- Self calibrates
The “self calibration” one is impressive. It automatically finds the middle of the space between the labels. This provides you with great centering and alignment every time. And it prevents you from wasting labels. Batch printing is impressive as well. I can think of a lot of instances where I would like to print 10-20 labels that say the same thing quickly. When we entertain we like to personalize our place settings with things like “Happy Thanksgiving 2022” or similar. Batch printing is PERFECT for that. Here’s a video of batch printing a few labels. All are perfectly aligned.
The current firmware version listed on the test print label is 11.04. I’ll be curious to see if there are firmware updates available and if they are able to be installed via the USB interface. That being said I have printed maybe 50 labels so far and have tried to make the printer choke and it hasn’t let me down yet. Trust me, if something will choke, I can find the way to make it choke. I haven’t found a bug yet.
Who Is This Made For?
Everyone! This is a great little label maker for around the house. My first mission was to label some pantry items that have previously escaped other label makers. Now that I look at this, these containers would have been a prime candidate for the clear labels. Next time!
Well, as soon as my wife saw me playing with the label maker this morning she asked me to make a label for a friends birthday card. I need to stress that the label maker only prints in black and white but my wife is pretty creative and artistic and made it a colorful work of art with a couple of markers. I’d have never thought to do that.
NIIMBOT Labels (click pics to enlarge)
So really, the only limit with the NIIMBOT B21 is your imagination.
Is There Anything I Don’t Like?
Nothing is perfect and there are a couple of things I’d tweak if I could. First of all it plays a cool song at start up and shut down. And it is fairly loud. I’m the weirdo that gets up at 2 AM and writes label maker blogs while my wife is sleeping. I wish I could silence the music.
Secondly, the app knows what roll of paper is installed.
That is super cool, however that means there is an RFID chip somewhere in the roll of paper.
What that means is that the paper rolls are proprietary for NIIMBOT and that you wouldn’t be able to use 3rd party consumable stickers.
That seems to be the way that most manufacturers of thermal printers are leaning in this day and age and it clearly isn’t specific to NIIMBOT. I recently purchased about 6 shipping label printers and 4 of them can only use proprietary consumables.
I wouldn’t necessarily say it is a bad thing, but it is something a potential buyer should be aware of. NIIMBOT consumables are readily available to purchase on Amazon.
John’s Tech Blog Conclusion
Would I buy this printer? Absolutely. As I stated I own many label makers and my wife has never expressed any interest whatsoever in any of them. The very second she saw this thing I could see that it really struck a chord with her. And she began discussing all the things she could do with the B21 at work. She was excited about the product and became even more interested when I showed her the different rolls of paper available. Yeah, I got a free printer from NIIMBOT but it’s fairly obvious I now have to order my wife some decorative rolls of paper and turn this device over to her.
Again, this printer is the very definition of fun. Most label makers aren’t fun. It is small, well designed and despite its small footprint and light weight it has rubber feet that hold it very securely wherever you place it. The NIIMBOT B21 is something that looks professional and attractive sitting on your desk or work bench. The retro design is awesome.
It prints fast, self centers, doesn’t waste labels, and prints crystal clear and crisp. And as my wife found out, the labels can be colored with markers. The operative word in my blog seems to be “FUN”.
The B21 is perfect for kitchen and garage organization and I think most households should have one of these, or one of their other offerings.
Here’s the last thing I’ll add. My brother told me he got a NIIMBOT printer a couple of weeks ago and he loves the app and the printer, especially the size. So it isn’t just me.
I’ll update this blog entry as necessary if I stumble across any issues or super cool hidden features.