A Barcode reader also known as (point-of-sale) POS scanner, is a hand-held or stationary input device used to capture and read information contained in a barcode. A barcode reader consists of a scanner, a decoder (either built-in or external), and a cable used to connect the reader with a computer. A barcode reader works by directing a beam of light across the barcode and measuring the amount of light that is reflected back. (The dark bars on a barcode reflect less light than the white spaces between them.) The scanner converts the light energy into electrical energy, which is then converted into data by the decoder and forwarded to a computer.
While their operation has become easier due to technological advancements, there are now more options and varieties of scanners available in the market. Selecting the right product fit can be a challenge without understanding the various types and options.
There are five basic kinds of barcode readers — pen wands, slot scanners, Charge-Couple Device (CCD) scanners, image scanners, and laser scanners.
- A pen wand or a pen type is the simplest and the most pocket friendly barcode reader available. It contains no moving parts and is known for its durability. A pen wand can present a challenge to the user, however, because it has to remain in direct contact with the bar code, must be held at a certain angle, and has to be moved over the bar code at a certain speed. It cannot be used on a large scale project as the speed of the reader is quite slow compared to most of the scanners available in the market.
- Laser is the most well-known and widely used scanner. It uses a red diode laser to read the reflectance of the black and white spaces in a barcode. Laser scanners are only able to read standard linear (1D) barcodes but are also the most cost effective option. Standard laser scanners can read from a few inches to a foot or two away depending on the size of the barcode. To reduce the possibility of errors, a laser scanning may perform up to 500 scans per second. Specialized long-range laser scanners are capable of reading a bar code up to 30 feet away.
- A slot scanner remains stationary and the item with the bar code on it is pulled by hand through the slot. Slot scanners are typically used to scan bar codes on identification cards.
- A CCD scanner has a better read-range than the pen wand and is often used in retail sales. Typically, a CCD scanner has a “gun” type interface and has to be held no more than one inch from the bar code. Each time the bar code is scanned, several readings are taken to reduce the possibility of errors. A disadvantage of the CCD scanner is that it cannot read a bar code that is wider than its input face.
- Smartphone scanner is an image scanner, also called a camera reader, uses a small video camera to capture an image of the bar code and then uses sophisticated digital image processing techniques to decode the bar code. It can read a bar code from about 3 to 9 inches away and generally costs less than a laser scanner. The camera plays the role of an illuminator while 3rd party apps can scan the code and decode it to give the user information about the product. They are not used extensively but come in handy when there is urgent need.
After coming to the conclusion of what type of scanner meets your requirement we will have to figure out what feature of the product you will need. To understand that I have created the buyer’s guide to purchase the barcode scanner.
Buyers Guide to Purchase the top selling Barcode Scanner in 2019:
Three important aspects to make a purchase decision are:
- Connectivity: Corded or Cordless scanner
Cord barcode scanners are really simple to use and the cost of these scanners is also low compared to the cordless scanners. Information is always fed into the system in real time while some cordless barcode scanners have batch memory, meaning they have to be plugged in after scanning a set number of codes in order to process the codes. So if you have a large industry (Warehouse) and need mobility to scan products, then the cordless variety is best for you.
2. Scanning speed and distance:
Are you a retail mall or a point of sale terminal where you would maybe scan 2 products in a minute or a product based company warehouse where you scan & dispatch thousands of products in a day. Industrial scanners are designed to scan more than 1000 products in a second.
If you need to scan signs that are at a substantial height, you would definitely need a laser type barcode scanner. However, if the codes or signs are two-dimensional in nature, you would need a scanner that should read the 2D sign.
The workplace in which you need the barcode scanner to function also plays a very major role in determining what scanner you need. In most of the cases, if the requirement of barcode scanners is internal like in warehouses, factories etc. a less durable barcode scanner won’t be such a problem. However, if the barcode scanner is needed in a place like port docks, utility warehouses, then a scanner which can withstand dust, water, and physical damage will be needed.
Most scanners are designed for daily use in an office or retail environment. An accidental drop once in a while will be ok. But if you are using your scanners in a warehouse or outdoor environment like a shipping dock, you will want to consider a ruggedized unit. Rugged units are completely sealed against dust and can handle repeated 6 feet drops on concrete. With a rubberized case, they can handle severe mistreatment.
This scanner comes from the house of TVS which is one of the most reputed company in India. The USP of this 1D barcode scanner is the speed of scanning. It can scan up to 330 codes per minute, which is unprecedented at this price range. The high scan speed and accuracy is due to the increased resolution of 2500 pixels.
- Greater decoding accuracy
- Auto-scan mode enables hands-free operation
- Higher depth-of-field up to 300 mm enables decoding from longer distances
- A scan angle of 52°, meaning it can decipher a code even when it is placed at the specified angle.
- Dimensions of 106*58*155 mm and weight of just 148 grams
- Standard 2.0 mm connecting wire included.
- Can decode all major 1-dimensional barcodes
- 1-year Manufacturer warranty
Pros (What we Liked)
- Best in class scan speed, which can even beat some industrial barcode scanners.
- Support for both manual and automatic scanning, which can be useful when more scans need to be done
- Comparatively more durable and sturdy than the competition
- Ultrascan decoding facility and 32-bit processor installed, which improves the accuracy of the scanner
- Greater depth of field, that is between 0-300 mm
Cons (What we did not like)
- Drop resistance of just 1.0 meter, which is low compared to other barcode scanners in the same segment
- Scan angle of 52 degree which is less compared to the competitors.
This product comes from the most reputed brand and one of the most popular brand of the world in Barcode scanning. Its parent company Motorola is one of the leaders in manufacturing electronic devices in the world.
Zebra claims that this is the highest selling handheld 1-dimensional barcode scanner in the world and it’s hard to ignore that when you realize it has support for 98 unique and major languages of the world. Another USP of this product is the support for Android phones and tablets which most of the manufacturers don’t give in this range of devices.
- Handheld barcode scanner with 650 nm visible laser diode 50 Hz of scan element frequency.
- Bi-directional scanning type
- Scanning rate of up to 100 scans per second
- External power supply possible, which is unique among handheld scanners in this price range
- 152*63*84 mm in dimension, which is quite compact
- Weight of 150 grams
- Can scan UPC/EAN, UPC/EAN with Supplementals, UPC/ EAN 128, Code 39,
Code 39 Full ASCII, Code 39 TriOptic, Code 128, Code 128 Full ASCII,
Codabar, Interleaved 2 of 5, Discrete 2 of 5, Code 93, MSI, Code 11,
IATA, GS1 DataBar (formerly RSS) variants, Chinese 2 of 5
- Speaker sensita Supports USB, RS-232, Keyboard Wedge, IBM 468x/9x interfaces
- Scanning angle of up to 60 degrees, which is adequate for handheld scanners
Pros (What we liked)
- Extremely well built and top-notch design.
- Well known company with a good track record and easy availability of service centres.
- Support for Android devices and tablets, which is unique among handheld barcode scanners
- Support for a variety of interfaces and it’s a plug and play installation
- Support for a host of major languages from around the world
- External power supply possible
- Drop resistance of 1.5 meters
- IP 20 rating for protection against dust and water
- The user can change the data on the scanner itself before sending it to the computer
Cons (What we did not like)
- It is dust and water resistant but IP20 rating is quite low when compared to other scanners which have IP54 rating.
Pegasus PS1146 is the cheapest offering in this segment and with loaded features it is the one of the best product in the hand held category segment. The PS 1146 is 1D scanner ideal for retail, healthcare, office, and industrial uses due to its compact size, ease of operation and very high scanning speed. This barcode scanner is ideal for different types of offices and industrial establishments where fast and accurate scanning is required.
- Handheld barcode scanner with a 650 nm visible laser diode
- 0-250 mm depth of scanning field which is also standard across the spectrum
- The scan speed of 300 scans per second which is very high and can rival some industrial scanners
- Capable of scanning only single lines of maximum 20 cm length
- Maximum resolution of 4mil
- Only manual scanning type is available while others in price range also offer automatic scanning
- USB-HID, USB-COM, PS2, and RS-232 are the supported interfaces
- The dimensions are 155*65*85 mm, which is quite compact
- EAN-8 EAN-13,UPC-A ,UPC-E,Code39,Code128,EAN-128,Codabar,Industrial
- 2 of 5,Interleave 2 of 5,Matrix 2 of 5,MSI,China postcode etc. are the supported 1-dimensional barcodes
Pro (What we liked)
- Very high scan rate, that is 300 scans per second, making it a worthwhile choice for industrial applications
- It has a Very low error rate and can read even smugged or damaged barcodes, which is quite unique
- Made from pure ABS thermoplastic material which is heat resistant, others in the same price segment have PVC components, which isn’t resistant to heat
- Very compact and lightweight, making it suitable for all kinds of operation like
- Company claims that the product has a shockproof design
Cons (What we didn’t like)
- Not a product from a very reputed Brand
- Only compatible for windows operating system. Does not support android, Mac OS, and Linux users
- No automatic scanning capabilities while most handheld laser scanners in the same price segment have
- No autofocus enabled for the visible laser diode
- No IP rated protection
- Durability issue as No drop resistance Provided
RETSOL is a decade old company in the field of “Auto Identification and Data Capturing Technologies”. It is a 1-D laser type barcode scanner with a 650 nm visible laser diode, perfect for retail operations, industries, and even small-scale operations. It is run by a 32-bit processor and supports almost all types of software available for barcode scanners. The scanner is run by a 2-meter long cord which supports USB 2.0.
The total scannable width is 200mm or 20 cm with an angle allowance of up to 65° degree. With a size of just 173*70*68 mm and weight of 173 grams, it can easily be held and operated in one hand. The scanner is IP certified, meaning it can withstand dust, water, and physical falls from a certain distance.
- 32 bit CPU for optimal scan rate and scan distance
- Scan Rate – up to 100 scans per second
- Scan width of 200 mm and 0-280mm scan depth of field
- Can decode EAN-8, EAN-13, UPC-A, UPC-code 39, Code 128, EAN 128,Codabar, Industrial 2 of 5,Interleave 2 of 5, Matrix 2 of 5,MSI etc.
- USB 2.0 for connection of the cord
- Both manual and automatic trigger for code scanning available.
- IP54 rating for dust and water durability.
- 2-year Manufacturer’s warranty
Pro’s (What we liked)
- Plug and Play Device
- Can be easily operated using one hand. So very useful in retail operations
- Very good scan distance with respect to its size and price
- Both manual and automatic detecting is available
- Long 2 meter cord provided
- The cord is very durable and can handle rough usage
- Support for Windows, Mac and Linux OS
- Supports almost all 1D code formats that are currently being used
- Strong ability to decode any 1D code even at an angle
- Up to 100 scans per second possible
- Good build quality and premium feel with anti-shock feature in this price range
Cons (What we didn’t like)
- No Cordless Operation so suitable for small businesses only
- Cannot be used with smartphones or tablets
- Support for only USB 2.0 connection
- Can’t read barcodes from screens, shiny surfaces like foil papers which reflect light
- No support for Android OS
Just like the Zebra barcode scanner on this list, the eclipse too is quite pricey for the features it offers, but the peace of mind you get when buying a top class brand’s product is unmatched. Here is a list of things that sets this product apart when compared to the competition
- Handheld barcode scanner with a 650 nm visible laser diode which is the standard for handheld barcode scanners.
- Scratch-resistant glass provided in front of the diode
- USB, RS-232, Keyboard Wedge, IBM 468xx (RS485) are the supported interfaces on this barcode scanner
- The scan speed is up to 72 scans per second, quite low when compared to its competition
- A scan angle of 52 degrees, which is again quite low
- 100 grams weight is the lowest weight of any scanner in this category
Pro’s (What we liked)
- Excellent build quality and finish
- Supports most of the interfaces that a retail operations owner would need from a scanner
- Honeywell’s patented CodeGate tech is installed, meaning that a code’s info can be obtained by simply pushing a single button
- Another Honeywell exclusive feature is the Code Sense tech, which means a barcode scanner can be switched on by detecting a barcode, without a single push of the button.
- Very compact and easy to use
Con’s (What we didn’t like)
- The scan rate of just 72/scans per second is very low for a product that costs this much in the market.
- The scan angle of just 52 degrees is also subpar
- Support for only windows OS. Linux, Mac OS and Android users will be disappointed
- Maximum scan distance of just 14 cm is also poor
We recommend Retsol LS 450 as it is the best all-around device and something you should blindly buy if you are too confused to make a decision.
If you want a durable device to work in tough environments, you should go with the Zebra Symbol LS2208 Laser Barcode Scanner Because of its IP20 rating and support for major languages and external supply. If you just need pure scanning speed, then the TVSE BSC 101 should be your choice.