Barcode Scanner Buying Guide

June 16, 2022
scanner buying guide

Before Buying a Barcode Scanner, Ask Yourself These Questions

Scanners have become easier to use than ever before, but picking one from the huge range of types available might be difficult. Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert on scanner technology to identify a good match for your company. With the answers to the following four questions, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices to the one that’s ideal for you.

Question #1: What Kind of Barcode Are You Reading?

There are two types of barcodes: 1D and 2D barcodes. This is one of the most crucial questions to ask because you don’t want to overpay for a scanner or wind up with one that doesn’t work at all. There are three types of barcode scanners to pick from, depending on which of the two types of barcodes you’re working with.

1D barcode scanners are the conventional red line laser devices with which most of you are familiar. The light is reflected or absorbed by the black and white lines when the laser is aligned horizontally over the barcode. This reflectance pattern is translated into numbers and letters. These scanners can only read 1D barcodes, but they read them quite well and are the cheapest option.

1D imagers capture a picture of a barcode and analyze it to extract information. These scanners can still only detect 1D barcodes, but they have a higher tolerance for barcodes that are poorly printed or broken. Linear imagers are slightly more expensive than laser scanners, but if you require higher performance at a similar price, they’re the way to go.

2D area imagers are larger than linear imagers and can read any form of code, whether 1D or 2D. Similarly, because these scanners have large scanning areas and can read in any direction, they read faster than others.

scanner buying guide

The Zebra 4600 line of scanners are an excellent choice for scanning various barcode scanning applications.

Unlike the others, you don’t need to aim as precisely with a 2D scanner to get a good read. A 2D Area Imager is the best choice if you need to read 2D barcodes or want a scanner that will read very aggressively.

Question #2: How Will you Make Use of the Scanner?

This inquiry is primarily concerned with the form aspect of your scanner. The majority of scanners are handheld gun-style scanners, although depending on where and how you’ll be utilizing it, different form factors may be more productive.

Handheld scanners are by far the most prevalent type of scanner and are relatively simple to use. Pull the trigger after aiming the scanner at the barcode. Most models, like the Motorola LS2208, will come with a stand for hands-free usage. To prevent cable clutter and boost mobility, cordless handheld scanners are also available.

Presentation scanners, such as the Honeywell MK7180, are meant to sit on a counter and never need to be taken up. These scanners are designed to scan without the use of your hands and do not require triggering to read. Presentation scanners, instead of having a single aimer like handheld scanners, feature large reading regions that eliminate the necessity for aiming. These scanners are commonly found at retail check-out counters since they can quickly scan a large number of items. Simply place the barcode in front of the scanner, and it will automatically read it.

In-counter — In-counter scanners are similar to presentation scanners in that they require the barcode to be shown in front of the reader, but they are designed to be embedded within the counter. These types of scanners are commonly found in grocery stores and self-checkout lines. The Datalogic Magellan 8300 is an example of an easy-to-use unit. Many variants additionally include built-in scales, allowing them to fully serve a POS lane.

Fixed Mount– A fixed scanner is more specialized than the other varieties because it is designed to work in conjunction with a bigger automated system. These scanners are designed to be put on a conveyor line or in a kiosk, and they do not have a traditional scanning trigger or button. These scanners are frequently turned on all of the time or are activated by external sensors or controllers. Fixed scanners, such as the Microscan MS-9, are available at a variety of speeds to handle even very high-speed assembly lines without the need for user involvement.

Mobile Computer – While they are more advanced than basic scanners, mobile computers offer comprehensive flexibility by combining the functions of a computer and a scanner in one device. Mobile computers, such as the Motorola MC75A, may move around freely while saving information in memory or communicating through Wi-Fi and cellular (WAN) networks, unlike other scanners that require a PC. Mobile computers are useful for applications like inventory management and asset tracking that demand actual mobility.

Question #3: How Will You Connect Your Scanner to a Computer?

To transfer barcode data into the program you’re using, every scanner must be connected to a computer. The majority of scanners will connect to a PC or laptop through USB, however Serial (RS-232) and PS/2 connections are also available. Plugging in corded scanners is all it takes to get them up and running.

Handheld scanners also come with cordless scanner choices, allowing you to move around freely. These scanners work similarly to corded scanners, with the exception that they communicate with a base station wirelessly. After that, a cable connects this base station to your computer. Wireless support is not required on your PC because the cradle and scanner take care of everything. Most cordless scanners, such as the Motorola LS4278, communicate over Bluetooth, which typically has a range of 33 feet. Some specialized Bluetooth and proprietary wireless equipment can also communicate beyond 200 feet.

Question #4: What Kind of Environment Will You Use the Scanner?

When choosing a scanner, ruggedness should always be a consideration to ensure that it can withstand whatever you throw at it. The majority of scanners are made to be used on a regular basis in an office or retail setting. An occasional drop will be fine, but if you use your scanners in a warehouse or outdoors, you should consider investing on a ruggedized machine. A ruggedized scanner can always be identified by its bright yellow or red case, as seen on the Motorola LS3408FZ. Ruggedized units are entirely dust-proof and can withstand several 6ft drops to concrete. They can withstand any misuse thanks to a rubberized case. Although more rugged scanners are more expensive, the time and expenses saved from repairing broken scanners quickly offset the initial cost difference.

Choosing the Best Scanner

With so many possibilities for barcode scanners nowadays, it’s critical to choose the best one for your business. Making a decision is easier if you know how you’ll use the scanner and what features you’ll need. Our handy scanner selector tool will even assist you in finding a specific model. Give our scanning professionals a call if you’re still having problems or have further inquiries. We’d be delighted to assist you.

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