The 4 Best Color Thermal Label Printers Of 2023

When it comes to color thermal label printers, the ColAura color photo and label printer is preferred for both personal and professional use due to its versatility. However, other models like the Brother QL-800 high-speed professional label printer can also be considered for speed and precision.

Whether you’re looking to print shipping and warehouse labels or labels for your small business, a color thermal label can be the perfect solution. Not only are they fast and easy to use, but they also occupy very little space. 

But what are the best options out there to consider? Read on to find out more about them!

1. ColAura color photo and label printer – Best overall

The ColAura Color Photo and Label Printer can be a good option for people looking to print on the go. It’s a compact machine that can aid in printing labels without any ink and even wirelessly by connecting to your mobile device.

At the helm of its affairs is a convenient zero-ink technology, which eliminates the need for color cartridge refill, replacing toner or ribbons for printing custom labels. All the colors required for printing are embedded in the adhesive ZINK papers, so all you need to do is choose your desired design or text to be printed.

When I tried this printer, I found out that despite its small size, it can print paper labels, tags, stickers, and even color photos measuring up to 17 inches long. Not only that, but the printer also has a built-in cutter, making customizing labels all the more easy. However, I noticed that the cutter doesn’t always cut right through the adhesive back, so you may have to do the work manually, too.

Further, you can download the Brother Color Label Editor 2 app to get access to several frames, elements, fonts, and read-made designs.

Printing Technology: Inkjet | Compatible Label Measurements: 17 inches long and 2 inches wide | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Editor App Availability: Yes

2. Brother QL-800 high-speed professional label printer – Best for affordability

Yet another thermal label printer from Brother that has earned rave reviews is the QL-800 high-speed unit. It can easily connect via a USB cord or wirelessly to print labels at a speed of 93 labels per minute (taking into account standard address labels). And just like its predecessor, this printer doesn’t utilize any cartridge or ribbon.

The first thing that caught my attention when inspecting it was how the control buttons are placed at the top of the printer for easy use. You can even direct the printer when printing from the editor app for precise results. Likewise, the integrated cutter can be activated to shape labels and stickers up to 3 feet long.

Given its super compact size and fast printing speed, I feel this unit is best suited for printing stamps for envelopes and cartridges from the convenience of your desk. However, its affordability comes with a slight drawback- this printer can only print labels in 3 colors- black, white, and red.

As such, you can think of this unit as an entry-level-label printer for home or office use. Besides, the quality of the adhesive paper (or Brother labels) is pretty durable, so you don’t have to worry about replacing your labels too often.

Printing Technology: Inkjet | Compatible Label Measurements: 4 inches wide and 24 inches long | Connectivity: USB and Wireless | Editor App Availability: Yes

3. Godex RT700i thermal transfer printer colorBest for small businesses

This popular thermal printer for labels has a modern clam-shell design that makes it easier for users to load labels and operate it. In fact, after seeing it in action, I feel that practically anyone can operate it with ease, no matter their expertise level with such devices.

And this is primarily due to the rodless label holder, which facilitates fast label loading and feeding. However, the plastic construction of the element for the price is a bit of a letdown for me.

Moreover, there’s a color TFT LCD screen displaying the different options, which can be navigated via the buttons located right below it. Similarly, the C-button in the control panel makes for effective label calibration for precise design and color printing.

I also found that the unit is equipped with a full-range adjustable sensor that enables it to print on small labels without losing any details. This is a part of the printer’s twin-sensor technology that makes it compatible with different types of labels.

As for the connection, this thermal label printer comes with USB 2.0, ethernet, serial, and standard USB ports for flexibility. If you ask me, I’d say this is one of the best printers for small businesses due to its ease of use and compatibility with different types of label media.

Printing Technology: Thermal | Compatible Label Measurements: N/A | Connectivity: Wired and wireless | Editor App Availability: Yes

4. Primera LX500 color label printer – Best inkjet label printer

The Primera LX500 color printing label is an inkjet professional-grade unit, not a thermal printer, best suited for printing product labels as well as in setups like medical labs and warehouses. You can use it to print full-color labels with photo-like quality for professional or personal use. Moreover, it can be used to print everything from text to images and illustrations.

Talking about the specifications, this label printer can print labels measuring 4 inches wide and 24 inches long with a high print resolution of 4800 DPI (dots per inch). Further, it supports everything from die-cut to continuous label roll and UP labels, and the built-in cutter facilitates clear cut with no unwanted indentation.

That said, it’s important to note that this isn’t your average compact printer, as ink refilling can become very expensive if you’re looking for home use. At the same time, leaving the printer idle can cause the ink to dry up, which will again result in hefty ink refilling costs.

Overall, I’d recommend this unit primarily for professional use, like printing shipping labels for small businesses.

Printing Technology: Inkjet | Compatible Label Measurements: 17 inches long and 2 inches wide | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Editor App Availability: N/A

Best color thermal label printer comparison table

Thermal Label Printer Printing Technology Compatible Label Measurements Connectivity Editor App Availability
Printing Technology Inkjet 17 inches long and 2 inches wide Wi-Fi Yes
Brother QL-800 High-Speed Professional Label Printer Inkjet 4 inches wide and 24 inches long USB and Wireless Yes
Primera LX500 Color Label Printer Inkjet 17 inches long and 2 inches wide Wi-Fi N/A
Godex RT700i Thermal Transfer Printer Color Thermal N/A Wired and wireless Yes

Buying guide for the best color thermal label printer

“So, what makes for a good color thermal label printer?” If you’re wondering the same, then let me tell you about some of the factors I kept in mind while curating the list above.

1. Ease of use

No matter how expensive or affordable your preferred color label printers are, you’d want them to be easy to use. This means that you should be able to feed the label rolls and print them easily. 

In this regard, you can opt for Zero Ink technology printers that save you from the hassle of changing individual ink cartridges. 

Not only does this make maintaining the printer easy, but it also saves you from the cost and effort of ink refill, especially if you need to use the printer very frequently. Likewise, color label printers with rodless label holders simplify the process of feeding the paper.

However, you should check the compatibility of the printer with the required label material and label sizes for printing product labels of different types.

2. Versatility

Although the name label printer may tell you otherwise, label printers should be able to print more than just text and bar codes. In fact, a lot of label printing, especially for small businesses, requires illustrations and graphics.

Hence, your preferred label printer should be able to print high-quality labels with graphics and illustrations with clarity. And the best way to ensure this is to check the DPI count of the printer- the higher the DPI, the better will be the resolution of the print.

3. Connectivity

Just like standard printers, thermal color printers also come with different connectivity options to facilitate easy operation. And from what I have seen during my research, most of these printers, irrespective of their price, come with both wireless and wired connectivity options. These generally include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB, and USB.2, and the higher-end models may have most or all of these functions.

How do thermal printers determine label costs?

The quality and efficiency of a label printer will determine the overall cost of printing personalized labels.

With thermal label printers, you can do away with the cost of refilling cartridges and ribbons, thereby cutting down on the printing expenditure.

But remember that the best color label printer will print quality labels without costing a fortune.

What is a thermal shipping label printer?

A thermal shipping label printer uses thermal printing technology to print directly on specially coated thermal paper. The result is high-speed printing of durable labels that are resistant to water and fading. As such, these printers can be the perfect printing solution for printing product and warehouse labels in bulk.

You can further read more about different types of printers like heat transfer printers.

What are the best materials for thermal color label printing?

The answer to this will depend on the type of labels you want to print. However, some of the most common materials include vinyl and polyester.

Thankfully, most brands of thermal color printers provide label makers (read the material), and you can check the other label materials they are compatible with.


With that, I come to the end of my guide to the best color label printers.

My top pick from the list would be the ColAura color photo and Label printer for its sheer versatility that comes at a pretty cost-effective price. However, if you’re on a tighter budget and looking for something more user-friendly, then you can check out the Brother QL-800 high-speed professional label printer. If you found this guide helpful, don’t forget to check out my other readers on the best printer for art prints. See you next time!

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