The iDprt SP420 (officially $192.99, but often discounted) is aimed at small and home businesses that need an affordable way to print 4-by-6 shipping labels. Similar in many ways to the FreeX WiFi Thermal Printer I recently reviewed, it offers fast performance and can use a wide range of labels in various sizes from other manufacturers. Unfortunately, it has some shortcomings that make it impossible to recommend without reservation. It’s most likely to be useful to you if you know how to format files for printing, or are willing to learn.
Room for Big Label Rolls
The SP420 is basically a black box, though the slightly bulging sides and top give it a more graceful shape. There’s a blue release latch on each side to open the top for loading labels. The top panel includes two status lights along with a feed button on the front left corner and a transparent window so you can see how much paper is left on the current roll. It measures 7.8 by 7.1 by 9.5 inches (HWD), or roughly the same size as most of its competition, including the FreeX printer, the iDprt SP410 Printer, the Zebra ZSB-DP14, and the Editors’ Choice–winning Arkscan 2054A-LAN Thermal Shipping Label Printer.
The printer is roomy enough to hold a 5-inch-diameter roll, and also has rear feed slot for using fanfold paper. Most label printers either can’t hold rolls in that size range or require you to mount them in a separately purchased rear tray. Note that the SP420 can hold wider labels than the FreeX model, with support, according to iDprt, for labels from 2 inches to 4.65 inches wide (50mm to 118mm); conversely, the FreeX printer can print on smaller widths than the SP420 can handle.
The only labels iDprt sells are 4-by-6-inch fanfold labels in stacks of 500, for $22.99 per stack, or 4.6 cents per label. However, the printer can use labels from other manufacturers, as I confirmed using both Brother and Dymo labels I had on hand.
Too Many Drivers and an Unhelpful Wizard
Installing the software can quickly get confusing. The printer came with drivers and other files on a disk, but the User Guide said to download files from iDprt’s website. I downloaded them on the assumption that the online files might be more recent. However, when I compared the two sets, I found that some matched, some in each set were more recent than the apparently equivalent files in the other set, and each set included some file names I couldn’t find a match for in the other set. Rather than pick and choose, I stuck with the versions on the disk.
These included drivers for macOS and Linux, and two drivers for Windows: a standard driver and a driver from Seagull Scientific. The second driver is required to use the bundled label program from Seagull, but it also works with most Windows programs, according to iDprt. However, neither the User Guide nor the download page mentions the presence of two drivers, or suggests why you would pick one or the other.
For testing, I wanted to try both Windows drivers, so I started with the standard version, which is also the only one the User Guide gives setup instructions for. The instructions didn’t match the installation screens on the computer, but I was able to work through the installation easily enough, thanks to being familiar with the Windows Add Printer routine.
The Seagull driver, which I installed after finishing all testing on the first driver, was more of a problem. Seagull provides a wizard for installing the driver, but it couldn’t get past the step for installing a port, and iDprt’s online chat support couldn’t suggest any fixes. I finally got it installed by choosing Other instead of USB for the port, and setting it to USB later. It also turned out to be a lucky choice to run all the tests on the standard driver first, because the Wizard removed the first driver from the system, making it unavailable. An iDprt representative later confirmed that this was expected behavior.
I also ran into a problem with Bartender UltraLite, the label program iDprt supplies for the printer. Bartender UltraLite is a limited, free version of a program that also comes in several paid editions at prices that start at about $255 for a single user and run up to thousands of dollars for multiple users.
Creating labels in Bartender UltraLite is easy, and it offers such niceties as a choice of 61 barcodes, including QR codes. Unfortunately, the text in the first labels I printed also like looked a barcode: It was so vertically stretched that it was almost impossible to read. iDprt’s tech support couldn’t come up with a solution for this problem either, but it turned out to be the font. By default, Bartender uses iDprt Font 0. Once I changed it to Arial, Lucida Sans, or any other standard Windows font, it printed the labels clearly.
Of course, if you need a 4-by-6 printer mostly for printing shipping labels, you may never need the Bartender software. The company says the printer is compatible with all major shipping platforms and online marketplaces, and it lists two dozen on its site, including eBay, Endicia, Etsy, FedEx, PayPal, Shopify, UPS, and USPS. And both drivers work with most Windows programs, so you can also print from virtually any program you like.
The Good News Is Good Performance
Once I got the SP420 working, it performed well enough to almost make up for the software and installation challenges. iDprt rates the printer at 150mm per second, or 5.9 inches per second (ips). Using the standard Windows driver, and printing an image of a label from a PDF file with Acrobat, I timed it at 2.6 seconds for a single label, 12.5 seconds for 10 labels, and 54.6 seconds, or 5.5ips, for 50 labels. With the Seagull driver, it was a touch slower, at 3.4 seconds for one label, 14.0 seconds for 10 labels, and 59.7 seconds for 50 labels, or 5.0ips. By comparison, I timed the FreeX printer at 4.3ips using a USB connection, and the ZSB-DP14 at 3.5ips with its print job going through both Wi-Fi and the cloud.
Output quality is typical for the 203dpi resolution, and more than good enough for the kind of labels the printer is meant for. Both the barcodes and text on the USPS package labels in our speed test were a suitably dark black, and even the smallest text was easily readable.
Almost Worth the Hassle
Given my difficulties in getting the iDprt SP420 drivers and label program installed and working, it’s hard to give it an enthusiastic recommendation. But once it’s set up, it delivers. If you need a printer that can handle 4-by-6 labels and are willing to brave the setup issues (which should be easier with some of the solutions mentioned in this review), you might want to consider it.
That said, be sure to check out the iDprt SP410, which shares much of the same capability, including the same rated speed, and may be less expensive on any given day. Also consider the FreeX WiFi Thermal Printer, which lacks a bundled label app but is easier to install if you limit it to USB printing. And if you want to print wirelessly, look to the Editors’ Choice–winning Arkscan 2054A-LAN, which can connect to your network by Ethernet or Wi-Fi, or the Zebra ZSB-DP14, which offers cloud-based printing through a Wi-Fi connection to your network.