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Scanner buying guide

Barcode scanners have become easier to use than ever before. 
 Long gone are the days of dealing with decoder boxes and multiple cables going everywhere.
Simply plug the cable into the scanner and PC and you're up and running! 


 The first step in finding the right scanner is identifying your specific needs:


  • Where will the scanner be used? Is it a rugged environment? 
  • How often will it be used? 
  • What kind of barcodes will you be reading? 
  • How will the scanner be used? 
  • Can you stay connected to a PC? 


 Knowing how you'll be using the scanner will help you decide what scanner type, form factor, andother options you'll need.
 Understanding each of these factors will help you find the right scanner for your needs.


 Barcode Scanner Types


 One of the most important concerns when choosing a suitable scanner is the type of scan engine it has.
 This is ultimately dependent on the type of barcodes that you will be reading and how aggressive of a unit you'll need. There are 3 main types of scan engines:



This is the most well known scanner type. 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. There are also extended range laser scanners, like the Motorola LS3408ER, which can read up to 35ft away when using large reflective labels.

Linear Imager 

Linearimager scanners are similar to lasers in that they also only read 1D barcodes. But instead of reading reflected light from the laser they take a picture of the barcode. It then analyzes this image to extract the information from the code. Linear imagers, like the Honeywell 1300g, have become a very good replacement for laser scanner as ttheir read ranges and costs have become similar. A linear imager also does a better job reading poorly printed or damaged codes compared to lasers. For applications that need a more aggressive scanner, a linear imager will be a great fit for the same cost.

2D Area Imagers 

Like linear imagers, full 2D imagers also capture an image to analyze. But compared to the linear only devices, these scanners can read any type of barcode. 1D, stacked, and 2D barcodes are all supported by a 2D imager. Another advantage these imagers have is that the orientation of the barcode isn't important when reading. With lasers and linear imagers, you have to line up the indicator horizontally across the barcode. A 2D imager is taking a more detailed image and is more intelligent, so you can read a code in any direction. This results in faster reads with less aiming. 2D imagers, like the Honeywell 1900, can also read barcodes off of any surface including a monitor or phone screen. With their added abilities and very aggressive reading, 2D imagers are becoming more popular in all industries to speed up scanning applications and expand the ways in which barcodes are used.


Form Factors

Once you know what type of scanner you'll need, the next big question is what form factor the scanner will be. Most of us are familiar with the basic gun-style and in-counter scanners from retail and grocery stores. There are 5 main form factors for scanners, and each has advantages depending on your application and how you'll use the scanner.



These are by far the most common form that scanners come in and are very easy to operate. Simply aim the scanner at the barcode and pull the trigger. Most models, like the Motorola LS2208, will also offer a stand for hands-free operation.Handheld scanners are also available in cordless form to avoid cable clutter and increase your mobility.


Motorola LS4208


Presentation scanners, like theDatalogic Magellan 2200VS, are designed to sit on a counter-top and don't need to be picked-up or held. These scanners are made for hands-free scanning and will not require triggering to read. Likewise, instead of a single aimer like handheld scanners, presentation scanners have wide reading areas to reduce the need for aiming. You'll find these types of scanners at retail check-outs since it is easy to scan many items quickly. Just present the barcode in front of the scanner and it will read it automatically.


 Datalogic Magellan 3200VSi

Mobile Computer 

While they also do more than what basic scanners do,mobile computers provide complete freedom since both the PC and scanner are in a single device. Where other scanners need to be connected to a PC, mobile computers like theZebra TC51 can move around freely while storing information into their internal memory or communicate via Wi-Fi and Cellular (WAN) networks. Mobile computers are ideal for applications that require true mobility likeinventory management andasset tracking.

 Mobile Computers



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