Review of the Zebra QLn420 Mobile Printer

A Zebra QLn420 mobile printer sits ready to print direct thermal labels

A popular choice for mobile label and receipt printers, the Zebra QLn420 is the premium model of Zebra’s QLn thermal mobile printer series.

As Zebra’s third generation of QL printers, the QLn420 enhances business tasks and boosts productivity with its user-friendly interface and easy to navigate LCD screen. It is capable of displaying proactive alerts for faster and more convenient maintenance.

A lightweight, yet durable label printer, it can print up to 4” wide and has the largest battery capacity of the QLn series. 

With all of that being said, The QLn mobile printer is a discontinued line. However, those looking to purchase one can find used models online starting around $550 and climbing as high as $1000, depending on the seller.

New, upgraded Zebra models are available for those looking to purchase a more current Zebra thermal mobile printer.

Let’s find out if the Zebra QLn420 lives up to its longtime popularity.

Who Are Zebra Mobile Printers For?

A Zebra QLn420 thermal printer on a forklift

Mobile printers like the Zebra Ln420 are geared toward increasing workplace performance. They are able to easily integrate into already existing programs and operate for faster and higher quality printing.

Unlike desktop printers and industrial printers, which can only work from one established location, mobile printers have the ability to print wherever a print job is needed. 

Sometimes referred to as portable printers, Zebra mobile printers allow for labels to be printed in any setting whenever necessary. This on-the-go ability makes mobile printers an asset to businesses where workers are constantly on the move. 

Industries like warehouses and factories use mobile printers for labeling goods and raw materials, as well as barcoding for inventory and display complaint guidelines. These Zebra thermal printers can also be mounted onto tow motors for additional mobility.

They can also be found in transportation and logistics industries for inventory management and cross-docking efficiency. 

These printers are also beginning to find their way into the retail industry. There they act as retail barcode printers, operating to print labels and tags for tasks like inventory, receiving, and reverse logistics.

What Kinds of Labels Do They Use?

The Zebra QLn420 is a direct thermal (DT) printer and is only able to print on direct thermal materials. Direct thermal labels already have ink embedded inside the label material so there is no need for a ribbon. 

The QLn420 prints labels with a gap sensor, a small space between each label, or timing mark, a black line between each label. These are marks or gaps notify the printer when one label ends and the next begins. While the default setting is fixed for timing mark labels, gap sensor labels work equally as well and at a more affordable price. Users will simply need to re-set the media type from timing mark to gap sensor.

Because of the small size of this printer, only roll labels with a .75″ core can be used. This means Zebra mobile printers do not support fanfold labels.

Not sure where to buy labels for your Zebra QLn420? Shop smithcorona.com where we carry various sizes of Zebra compatible labels, or you can give us a call at 1-800-875-7000.

Printer Specifications

QLN420  ZQ630
Printer Price  Discontinued $900-$1,000
Print Technology  Direct Thermal – Black Mark or Gap Media Direct Thermal – Black Mark or Gap Media
Core Size  0.75″ Core 0.75″ Core
Max. Media Width  4.1″ 4.1″
Resolution 203 dpi 203 dpi
Battery Capacity  4900 mAh 6800 mAh
Media Compatibility  Apple IOS, Android & Windows Apple IOS, Android & Windows
Connectivity  Wireless, WiFi, Bluetooth Wireless, WiFi, Bluetooth
Capabilities RFID Not Included RFID
Memory  128 MB RAM & 256 MB Flash 256 MB RAM & 512 MB Flash
Operating System  Link-OS Link-OS & Print DNA
Control Panel  LCD- 240 x 128 Pixels Color Display- 288 x 240 Pixels
Shop  Compatible Labels Compatible Labels 

The Verdict

  • A compact and lightweight label printer for easy mobility
  • LCD screen for easy navigation and straightforward setup
  • No ribbons needed to print labels
  • A durable thermal label printer capable of withstanding 6ft drops onto concrete
  • Effortless integration with Link-OS system
  • Largest battery capabilities of QLn series
  • Due to discontinuation, it must be purchased used from a third party
  • Accessories must be purchased separately
  • Older model of Zebra mobile printer – newer Zebra models are available
  • Slower print speed when compared to desktop and industrial printers
  • An adaptable and easy operational printer capable of quick, on-the-go tasks for multiple industries and platforms

How to Load & Calibrate

The Zebra’s light up LCD screen makes navigating set-up and changing settings a simple and straightforward task.

Because this printer is wireless, these changes can be done whenever necessary while on-the-go.

Loading Labels

  1. Open the Printer
  2. Pull apart the adjusters to load labels face sheet side down
  3. Close the printer

Calibrate

  1. Press Home and press the right arrow button to Tools
  2. Press the right arrow button to Label Length Calibration
  3. Press Start

Printing a Test Label

  1. Press Home and press the right arrow button to Tools
  2. Press the right arrow button to Print Information
  3. Press Print

Media Type Switch

As previously mentioned, the QLn420 mobile printer supports roll labels with either gap sensors or timing marks. Most mobile printers are able to print using regular labels without a timing mark, which are cheaper to purchase.

The printer setting must be adjusted depending on the media type.

Setting Media Type

  1. Turn on the printer
  2. Press Home and then Settings
  3. Use the right arrow button to navigate to Media Type
  4. Press the down arrow to enter the default password, which can be found in the manual
  5. Press Done
  6. Press the down arrow to select media type
  7. Press Home

Peel & Present Mode

The Zebra QLn420 mobile printer offers the ability to switch to a feature called peel and present mode. This special mode removes the label liner as it prints, allowing for quick application.

Setting Peel/Present Mode

  1. Turn on printer
  2. Open printer and load labels
  3. Press the feed button on the front of the printer to advance several labels
  4. Peel off the labels and leave the liner
  5. Lift up on the peeler lever on the side of the printer
  6. Press the feed button