Review: Zebra ZD421 Barcode & Label Printer – A Solution For Your Logistical Conundrums

A Very Worthy Desktop Barcode & Label Printer bar none

Label printers play a pivotal yet often overlooked role in our daily lives. While it’s true that many may find it challenging to muster enthusiasm for barcodes, there exists a niche of individuals who are genuinely passionate about all things barcode-related. For most of us, barcodes exist in the periphery of our awareness until that familiar “BEEP…BEEP…BEEP” accompanies our items at the checkout counter.

From its modest origins in the United States in 1952, barcode technology has evolved into an integral component of our daily existence. These monochromatic stripes, as well as their digital counterparts like QR codes and Data Matrix codes, have become so deeply woven into the fabric of modern society that it’s difficult to imagine life without them. Barcode technologies serve as the backbone of contemporary systems for inventory management and identification. Nearly everything in our constructed environment has, at some point, been associated with a barcode, underscoring the profound impact this technology has on our world.

We’re so reliant on barcodes that an entire industry has evolved around this technology. The ability to produce and reproduce barcoded labels with accuracy, clarity and speed are just some of the important factors to consider when purchasing a label printer.

Say Hello to the Zebra ZD421

The Zebra ZD421 is available in direct thermal, thermal transfer, healthcare and ribbon cartridge models. This makes it a versatile tool to have in your organisation’s logistics arsenal. Based on the tried and tested architecture of its predecessor – the GK Series, the ZD421 also benefits from a boost in performance. This upgrade translates to noticeably faster operation, multiple simultaneous operations with “future-ready” technology that mitigates potential security risks. The  ZD421 has a maximum print width of 4.27 inches/104mm and prints up to 300 dots per inch (dpi). It can also print labels up to 6 inches long in as little as a second.

Operating the printer is fairly straightforward. There are five LED icons that give operating alerts/ notifications such as media replenishing or resolving printer issues.

  1. Status
  2. Pause
  3. Data
  4. Media
  5. Network

All of the printer models operates without ink, instead crafting labels through a process involving chemically-treated, heat-sensitive media. These labels darken as they come into contact with the thermal printhead, forming your printed output. Generating these labels is a breeze, taking only a few seconds to load, thanks to a “fool-proof, one-way, first-time every-time instant loading” mechanism.

For those looking for ease and versatility, there’s the option of a cartridge-based thermal transfer. If I were utilizing the printer across various locations, this option would likely be my top choice, as it strikes me as the most straightforward to set up and uninstall. Moreover, it’s worth noting that the ribbon in this setup incorporates a smart chip, providing timely alerts when it’s due for replacement.

Additionally, the thermal transfer approach of all models extend the printer’s capabilities to include printing on polymer media, thereby enhancing durability against challenging conditions such as intense light and harsh environmental factors. This feature opens up new possibilities for robust labeling solutions.


The ZD421 comes standard with features such as USB and USB Host. It offers optional Ethernet, Serial and dual wireless radio with fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi™ and Bluetooth® 4.1. Print from any Windows®, Android™ or iOS® device. This means that the printer can be integrated into an existing wired or wireless network and with the Zebra Printer Setup mobile app, the user can be up and running in no time. With Zebra’s Printer Profile Manager Enterprise which is included with the Print DNA software, it is also possible to easily manage, secure and troubleshoot your networked printers from one remote location. Manage one printer, a group of specific printers or all printers anywhere in the world.

Multi Media & Optional Extras

The Zebra ZD421 is an extremely versatile label printer. It can print onto a variety of label media such as roll-fed or fan-fold, die cut or continuous with or without black mark, tag stock, continuous receipt paper, and wristbands.

This printer offers a seamless transition between power sources, as it comes with an AC power adaptor for mains operation and can be made portable by attaching a battery pack underneath. For added stability, you have the option to use a mounting plate to secure the printer to a countertop or shelf. Furthermore, its portability is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a convenient carry case equipped with both a shoulder strap and handles, making it effortlessly transportable to any desired location.

The Zebra ZD421 is available here starting at $550.00 depending on the specification your business is after.

About Author
Chetan is a London-based designer by profession. He is passionate about the role design plays in everyday life whether it's graphic, digital, fashion, product or environmental design. Motivated by aesthetic design, function and the User Experience of emerging and new technologies, products and platforms, he is ever keen to learn, discover and innovate. Although he doesn't consider himself a nerd or a geek, he is a big movie fan and lists Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, The Shawshank Redemption and… Brewsters Millions among his favourites! Chetan is also an aspiring author and is currently working on his first novel.