If you spend any significant amount of time managing cabling in the IT, audio, video, or lighting worlds, then you may have already met the Dymo Rhino 5200. If not, allow me to introduce you.
The Rhino 5200 lives in my tool bag and is rarely far from my reach. While it’s not cheap at $113-ish, it’s one of those tools that is worth its weight in gold. It’s also available in kit form for $140-$160 with an included case, charger, and labels.
Of course, you can print basic labels with the Rhino 5200; however, the magic for wrangling and documenting cables are found in label presets for “Cable” and “Panels.”
The Cable preset allows you to print a label specifically designed to be wrapped around … you guessed it … a cable. Instead of printing the label end to end like an ordinary label maker, the Cable preset rotates the text 90-degrees and repeats the phrase the length of the label.
*It is important that you use 19mm (or 3/4-inch) labels instead of the smaller sizes common on cheaper labeling machines.
Vinyl or flexible nylon labels are necessary for the label tape to adhere properly to various cable jackets. If you use traditional labels that are made for printing on smooth flat surfaces, you will quickly experience them peeling back and, ultimately, falling off of your cables. I have had great luck with these Dymo Industrial Dymo Flexible Nylon labels.
In addition to the convenience of labeling cables, the Dymo also delivers on the Panels preset. This gives you the ability to label patch panels (horizontally) or electric panels (vertically). You select the number of patches and the length of each patch, then it prints the strip. Of course, you can also use it for everything else from soundboard scribble strips to audio snakes and anything else that has a row or column of I/O options.
Dymo’s Rhino 4200 is a Cheaper Option with the Best Features of the 5200
If the price tag of the Dymo Rhino 5200 puts you off, let me also suggest the Rhino 4200 as a more affordable option with a whole lot of the features in the 5200 for almost half the price – it lives in the $60-$80 price range.
My wife asked me for a label maker a couple of years ago and I ordered her the Rhino 4200. While she hates the orange color of the Rhino series, she loves the functionality. I figured if I was going to have another label maker in the house full-time, the flexibility of the Rhino 4200 would serve us both well.
Like the Rhino 5200, the 4200 is also durable with rubberized edges and corners to endure ordinary wear and tear a bit better than the average label maker.
I also give the Rhino 4200’s keyboard a leg up on the Rhino 5200. The 4200 has a standard QWERTY keyboard, while the 5200 is alphabetical.
The big advantages for the 5200 are the form factor (it fits more easily into my toolbag and easy to grip one-handed), a larger display, and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery (which rarely needs a charge). The ribbon cutter is also a bit better on the 5200.
However, the Rhino 4200 can make the same label types as the 5200, which is a huge win if you’re on a budget.
Both models allow you to use an array of label types and sizes, including 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, and 3/4″ sizes. Our 4200 stays loaded with standard 12mm labels most of the time, while my 5200 is loaded with 19mm nylon labels almost exclusively due to regular use with cabling and panels.
If you work frequently with IT, audio, video, or lighting systems, you can’t go wrong with either the Dymo Rhino 5200 or Rhino 4200.