You can't ignore the style of the Niimbot B21 'Remembrance', which recalls the mid-century modern design of the 1950s. This is a swish little thermal label printer that is designed for craft stores, events and farmer's markets as much as those of us who love to slap a label on jars and boxes around the home.
The Niimbot B21 has a wider label width than some thermal printers and can print stickers between 20 – 50 mm, which makes this ideal for printing barcodes and product information. Niimbot has a range of sticker rolls that includes basic white blocks as well as clear vinyl and illustrated celebration themes for party packaging and store events.
How does the Niimbot B21 compare to the best label makers around at the moment? Below I go into more details and let you know. I'll take a closer look at the design and explain how the Niimbot B21 is to use and show some results.
Niimbot B21 has a unique design
The design is so stylised and Niimbot B21 is all-in on the mid-century modern aesthetic that you'll either love or hate the look, but there's no denying its well implemented. At 3 x 2.54 x 10.16 cm and weighing 300 grams the Niimbot B21 can fit into the palm of your hand and is completely wireless. You can recharge the Niimbot B21 using a USB-A to USB-C lead but sadly you can't recharge using a USB-C to USB-C cable, so you'll need an adapter if using a newer laptop or tablet, or an Apple device.
The front of the Niimbot B21 has a swish curved grill and a metal boiler plate that houses the on switch and a small LED that displays the devices status. To the side is a small lever that recalls the old analog label printers of the 1950s and 1960s; pushing down on this opens the tape loading cavity.
Replacing paper and tape rolls is as easy as opening the lid and popping in a new roll; to the sides of the roll are two circular holders that need to be manually pulled together to hold the roll in place. Aligning the paper roll isn't automatic as in some other label makers (read my Epson XP-6100 review for a good example of an automated device).
Below the Niimbot B21 are two large rubber stands for gripping a flat surface and to the side a covered USB-C port. Overall this is a nicely designed little label maker but how is it to use?
Using the Niimbot B21 thermal printer
This is an easy to use thermal printer that requires little set up skills or previous knowledge – you simply turn it on and get going. The Niimbot B21 comes with one roll of sticker-paper preloaded, you simply peel the securing tab and feed it through, when turned on the device whirrs and aligns itself.
To create your designs you'll need to download the Niimbot Design & Print app, which is available for iOs and Android devices. The app is a little 'busy' at first and there's a lot going on but the onboarding instructions get you up and running. The app has a simple design space that can be touch-manipulated, with fonts, shapes and icons easily selected and adjusted.
I like the fact you can import photos from your phone and the app will convert them into basic monochrome illustrations; these are simple but fun, which is a great way to describe the Niimbot B21 overall. While paper rolls lack the foil and colour variety of the Epson range Niimbot does offer coloured paper and clear vinyl, as well as pre-designed rolls with nice illustrations for Christmas or special events.
One up side to Niimbot’s range of paper rolls is how these stickers come on easy-peel background vinyl so, unlike the Epson tapes, peeling your stickers is hassle-free. This Niimbot B21 is also incredible fast, largely because it prints at the low-ish 203dpi, but it's a good balance of function and finish. If you're needing a label maker for a store or craft products this is ideal as it will whizz off tens of labels in seconds.
The downside to the Niimbot B21 is the image quality lacks detail and the app has a number of items locked behind a paywall – if you want some of the more creative fonts and icons, for example, you'll need to pay a 'VIP' fee of £5.99 a month.
When first printing on a new roll of paper I did find there was some sliding and you will need to tease and tweak the alignment, despite this thermal printer having a self-centring feature. It doesn't auto-cut either, and instead you tear the paper across a grill of small teeth in the traditional way, which is perfectly fine.
Should I buy a Niimbot B21?
The design of the Niimbot B21 is unique and eye-catching. If you want something novel to sit on your desk or bench and print out everything from packing labels to clothes tags and birthday stickers, this will do the job. At $65 / £78 this is competitively priced, though you may fund your costs increasing if you wish to make use of Niimbot's VIP in-app purchases.
Despite the device being quite small it does print some of the larger width stickers around, and while the results for images are a little blocky the basic fonts, icons and graphics print nicely. It's also super-quick, which is a bonus if you're using this at conventions or in a small store.
Above all, the Niimbot B21 is just fun to use. You can get as creative as you like and the option to turn photos into stickers is a unique and frivolous use of a thermal printer. Overall, the Niimbot B21 is recommended, particularly for home use.