Barcode scanners are designed to collect data in an organized way by reading barcodes, or any data including images, and putting this data into a database to where information can be easily processed and individually identified. For the purpose of this scanner guide, you can scan any data but we will use the term barcode as this scanned date.
Choosing the Right Barcode Scanner for Your Business
Barcode scanners are easy to use and are available in a variety of ways to connect to your computer, network, or any platform you prefer. Whether it is an iOS or Android application, Bluetooth scanner, or USB scanner requirement, all are available and are low in cost.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding which scanner best suits your application.
- What environment will you be using your scanner? Will it be in an office or in a rugged environment that demands added durability?
- What kind of barcodes will you be scanning? What scan technology does the job require?
- Will you scan data other than barcodes? Like images?
- What will the scanner be used for?
- What type of connectivity do you need for this scanner? Should you get a corded or cordless scanner?
If you can answer these questions it should help you narrow your search down to specific products that will help you choose the scan technology, scanner form, and added features that your job may require.
Types of Scanner Technologies
Laser Scanner: These scanners use a single-line laser beam to read the spacing between the white and black spaces to develop a pattern of the image one space at a time. The Laser beam is constantly moving back and forth which causes the laser to look like it is flickering, but really it is using a mobile mirror to transmit the exact pattern it is reading back to the scanner. Laser scanners come in both long range lasers and traditional short range lasers.
Linear Imager: These scanners use imaging technology to take a picture of the barcode, analyze the picture, and then finally decode the information. They are similar to laser barcodes in a way that they can only read 1D barcodes and that they must read the entire span of the barcode to get the information. These scanners work well in a rugged situation having to read potentially damaged or low quality printed barcodes.
2D Area Imager: These scanners also, like the linear imager scanners, take a picture of the barcode and interpret the information. Although they both take a picture of the barcode, the 2D area imager scanners have far more capabilities such as being able to scan 1D, 2D, and stacked barcodes. Other features that set these scanners apart from the other two is that it can scan from any orientation, or in other words it does not have to be lined up horizontally with the barcode like the laser scanners and linear imager scanners. It can be scanned upside down and sideways which can make scanning much faster and efficient. Another thing that these scanners can do is scan a barcode off of a screen. These scanners are becoming more popular because of the efficiency and versatility.
Types of scanner form factors
Handheld: These are the most common scanners and come in both corded and cordless models that offer a premium level of data collection. Most handheld scanners are designed with a grip and trigger to activate the scanning operation and are generally compact and lightweight so it fits comfortably in the hand. Many of our models also come with a stand to make it hands-free like the Cub CS-9203.
Rugged: Scan bar codes with confidence when out in the field or in places where harsh environments are a concern. These rugged scanners can pack a punch with tough casings that can withstand drops where some general purpose scanners would need to be replaced. These casings keep the internal components of the scanner dust and dirt free so that it can function even in the toughest workplaces, like the Datalogic PowerScan. Although these scanners tend to be more expensive than standard scanners, they will save you money by not having to replace them.
Healthcare: These scanners are disinfectant-ready to resist common and harmful hospital cleaning agents. Healthcare scanners easily scan your bar code labels, wristbands and even documents in any hospital environment. The Honeywell Xenon 1900h is a great example of a disinfectant ready hospital scanner.
IOS & Android: Whether an Enterprise Sled or Clip-On device, iOS & Android scanner devices turn most iPhone, iPods or Androids into a sleek portable scanning device. Data is collected on the device via Bluetooth communication through Application. Models can be 1D or 2D and are becoming very popular. For reference, the Honeywell Captuvo is an example of a sled and the Socket Series 7 is a ready scanner.
Presentation Scanners: Commonly used at point-of-sale retailers, presentation scanners are omnidirectional, like the Honeywell Orbit, allowing them to scan barcodes on products at any angle at a very efficient rate. The hands-free scanning increases employee productivity.
In Counter/On Counter: These scanners are very common at checkout lines at grocery stores. In counter scanners are designed to be embedded into a counter top of some sort to slide barcodes in front of it to scan efficiently, like the Datalogic Magellan. On counter scanners have the same function just not fixed into a countertop for example, the Honeywell Solaris 7820. These scanners are great for scanning smaller items in a fixed location.
Fixed Mount: These scanners are integrated with a large automated system to scan barcodes on their own in a fixed location typically on a conveyor belt or a kiosk. Fixed mount scanners like the Motorola MiniScan, work well at assembly lines in both low speed and high speed models.