cab vs. Zebra Barcode Label Printers: Which is Best For Your Processes?

cab vs. Zebra Barcode Label Printers: Which is Best For Your Processes?

Label Printers | 24 September 2020

Posted by John Masica

Cab vs Zebra Barcode Label Printers

Both cab and Zebra are prominent manufacturers of barcode label printers, but who makes a better printer?

The truth is, whether a cab or a Zebra label printer is better for your facility depends entirely on your needs—this is why both brands are widely appreciated and why we supply both options to our customers.

Here, we’ve put together a list of features our customers often look for in a printer and taken a look at how cab and Zebra’s offerings compare in terms of those desired traits.

Accessibility

Accessibility is very important when it comes to purchasing a printer, is it readily available? Is the purchasing process simple and intuitive? Generally, it’s preferable to purchase something when the process is easy and you can compare pricing from a variety of sources.

Purchasing a Zebra printer is relatively easy. You can readily find their products from a variety of sources. This makes it easy for you to shop around for the best deal before landing on a final decision—however, service isn’t consistent between suppliers.

We mainly point this out, because while finding the best deal may be top of mind at the time of purchase, you will want to consider service plans to account for unexpected costs in the future. Many of the retailers selling Zebra printers are online, meaning once you acquire the product, you may not have readily available service options. This might also mean that your label stock may not be properly matched with the print technology, or for your application.

cab, on the other hand, only sells their products through licensed distribution partners, such as Computype—most licensed distributors will have at least some sort of service accommodation.

While the price tag on both a cab and Zebra label printer may be higher if you purchase from a licensed distributor, you can rest assured your printer will be paired with the best combination of labels and ribbon to maximize the value of your investment, and you’ll have a resource for servicing and general questions.

As a supplier of both cab and Zebra printers, we always recommend purchasing barcode printing technology from a source that can assist you at every step in your journey—from testing and setup, to maintenance and upgrades down the road.

Price

Price is an obvious deciding factor when it comes to the barcode label printer you choose. While the pricing will depend on the particular model you choose, the pricing of both cab and Zebra printers does vary considerably.

This is a result of the varying components and features these printers provide, and the variability in customer needs and preferences between the two brands.

Generically speaking, cab printers tend to have a higher price tag as they are more robustly engineered, this is not always the case though when varying models are accounted for.

While at first you may be tempted to make your decision between two similar models based solely on cost—this doesn’t account for potential future costs or goals related to print tolerance, image resolution, or daily throughput.

On one hand, if you pick the less robust model due to its lower cost, but your application requires a sturdy printer—you’re likely to lose in the long run. While on the other hand, choosing a pricier printer for its power and strength when your environment and practices aren’t particularly strenuous can lead you to over invest as well.

This is yet another reason we recommend working with a supplier who is knowledgeable of your industry and application, so they can provide their input on the best long-term decision for your facility.

Ability to Meet High Demands and Withstand Harsh Environments

Every facility has different needs when it comes to their environment and meeting throughput goals—your printer should be able to perform optimally in your environment.

For facilities with less demanding environments and practices you have the freedom to shop around for the most reasonable printer that meets your needs—which could come from Zebra or cab.

Facilities where printers need to withstand a gritty environment and/or 24/7 operation, however, are going to need to be more selective.

We’ve already mentioned cab printers are well recognized for their robust engineering that allows them to withstand more demanding processes and environments—they are often described as “workhorses.”

Most Zebra printers aren’t meant to process thousands of labels per day or work around the clock, while many cab printers are engineered to do exactly that.

For example, a manufacturing plant that needs to print labels around the clock, would likely find assurance, optimal performance and reduced cost over time if they invest in an industrial cab printer, such as the cab SQUIX.Check out our review for our detailed opinion on the cab SQUIX

On the other hand, a lab that just needs to print a few labels at a time as demand dictates, could easily rely on a more economical Zebra printer, such as any of the models in the ZD series.

Check out our review of the ZD series for more  details on its features, benefits and limitations

Print Technology, Resolution, and Speed

Print technology, print resolution, and print speed are comparable between cab and Zebra barcode label printers. Both are designed to accommodate either direct thermal or thermal transfer print technology, provide image resolution as high as 600 DPI, and print over 12” per second.

While technically both printers are capable of the same print technologies, resolutions and speeds—there are a few differences.

First, while 300 DPI is suitable for the majority of print applications—when very small barcodes are needed—such as those on the bottoms and caps of tubes or vials—600 DPI is usually a better choice. Want to learn more about DPI- check out this article!

cab has more 600 DPI capable offerings than Zebra, making cab a better fit for facilities like labs who are in need of small barcode labels.

Second, while we realize printing fast is usually preferable, it generally leads to considerable printhead damage and reduced image quality.

cab printers and their parts are engineered to withstand higher demand environments and to be easier to maintain. What this means is while the print resolution will still be impacted, a cab printhead is going to last longer in instances where consistent high-speed printing is necessary due to their robust engineering.

Communications and Add-on Technologies

Additional communication and technology features can play a large role in the functionality of a barcode label printer depending on your application.

Bluetooth is a very prominent communication technology component that improves ease of use by allowing for wireless connection to your computer.

Zebra has the advantage in this area as several of their printers come standard with Bluetooth enabled, while cab only offers Bluetooth as an optional add-on.

Remote Monitoring

Remote monitoring allows for quality print management, as you can monitor what is happening on various printers, during various projects, at all times.

Zebra barcode label printers offer the Zebra Link OS and the Zebra Server enhancing the performance and accessibility of the printer to you and your business.

Custom Programming

Custom programming options include software you can utilize to customize the barcode printer to your company standards and needs, allowing for easier and more productive use, as you can now tailor your printer to suit your process.

You can use custom programming to save label formats, download training videos, or even display your company logo on the main printer screen.

cab and Zebra barcode label printers both have custom programming options available. This is an important component to thermal transfer printers, as the needs of every company will be different.

Limited Warranty

Warranties are another area where the two brands differ as cab offers a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, while Zebra only covers printers for one-year under warranty.

In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, Computype is a licensed distributor of both of these printers, and hence provides additional service agreements and warranty options on all of the printers we sell. Keep an eye out for suppliers who can offer additional service and warranty options.

The printhead warranty should also be considered when purchasing a barcode printer, as the printhead typically has a warranty of it’s own, separate from the printer. You’ll want to pay special attention to this aspect if you plan to print thousands of labels every day.

Thermal transfer printing can wear on the printhead if you don’t perform regular maintenance. That is why cab’s two-year printhead warranty is very beneficial compared to Zebra’s six-month warranty.

Check out this article to learn how proper cleaning   and care can increase the lifespan of your printhead

Before deciding which barcode label printer or brand is right for you, it is important you acknowledge which features are most important for success in your application. Additionally, you need to be aware of your preferences when operating and maintaining a printer.  

There are benefits to both cab and Zebra thermal transfer printers—but the most important consideration to make is which model of either brand checks off the most boxes on your list of needs


cab vs. Zebra Printer Comparison

 

cab

Zebra

Advantage

Print Technology

DT/TT DT/TT Tie

Resolution

200,300,600 DPI 200,300,600 DPI Tie

Print Speed (max)

12ips/ 300 DPI 12ips/ 300 DPI Tie

Bluetooth

Optional Standard Zebra

Remote Monitoring

No

Zebra Link OS

OR

Zebra Print Server

Zebra

Custom Programming

J Script ZBI Tie

Limited Warranty

2 Years 1 Year cab

Printhead Warranty

2 Years 6 Months cab

Availability

Sold through licensed distributors

Sold by various retailers Zebra

US $ List Price

Typically More

Typically Less

Zebra

Print Accuracy

Can print smaller, more precise barcodes

Can print small as well, but with less accuracy

cab

 

A label printer is truly only as good as the media you pair with it—and vice versa. The best way to ensure a comprehensive solution is to work with a partner who has the expertise to help you find the best combination to fit your goals, budget and application.

If you’re in need of a partner to help you build the ideal solution for your facility, feel free to reach out

Contact Our Sales Team Today

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John Masica

Based in St. Paul, MN, USA, John Masica is Computype’s Technical Support Specialist. Specializing in label printer maintenance and engineering, John is the go-to person for all things label printing. Through his 24 years here at Computype, he has learned many tips and tricks to make your label printing easier and more efficient.