There is such a variety of different types of Barcode Scanners available that it can be quite confusing to figure out which model will suite your specific application.
In this article I will try my best to explain the differences between the different types.
Categories of Barcode Scanners
- Linear or 1D Barcode Scanners
- Imaging 1D and 2D Barcode Scanners
- Corded scanners with USB or Serial Cables
- Bluetooth or Cordless scanners
- General use and Industrial type scanners
- Handheld scanners and vertical table top scanners
- Portable Data Terminals for stock taking, asset tracking etc.
Linear or 1D Barcode Scanners
These types of scanners are the most popular at this stage. Linear or 1D scanners can only scan the common barcodes found on commercial products.
QR Code and 2D Scanners
This type of scanner is capable of scanning 1D and 2D barcodes. The QR Code is being implemented in various applications together with the other 2D codes and these types of barcodes are becoming more popular. The cost of the 2D barcode scanners are more than the 1D only models.
Corded scanners with USB or Serial Cables
Corded types of barcode scanners use a cable to connect directly to a PC, POS or other type of terminal. In the case of USB scanners, the scanner get power directly from the host machine via the USB port. Serial (RS232) corded scanners are not as popular as they once were. Serial scanners mostly use an external power supply giving them power to operate.
Corded scanners are available in 1D, 1D/2D, general use and industrial type models.
Bluetooth or Cordless scanners
Cordless scanners allow the user freedom of movement and to use the barcode scanner some distance away from the POS terminal or PC. These scanners use either Bluetooth or some other radio frequency for communication between the scanner and base station.
Cordless scanners use a rechargeable battery to power the unit. The battery is charged when the scanner is placed into its base station.
The base station is connected via a cable to the host either with a USB or Serial cable. When a barcode is scanned the data is transmitted to the base station and from the base station to the PC via the USB cable.
These cordless scanners include 1D, 1D/2D, general use and industrial type models.
General use and Industrial type scanners
Barcode scanners are built in various degrees of toughness for different applications. You can use an entry level scanner in a clothing store as an example. The scanner is not going to be subjected to hard falls on concrete or exposed to moisture, dust etc.
In a warehouse type environment you will need a scanner that is durable and has a high Drop Specification as these could experience falls and hard knocks.
Scanners used in an industrial type application such as production lines need to be tough and have a higher IP rating against dust, moisture and other contaminants.
General use and Industrial type scanners are available in Corded, Cordless (Bluetooth), 1D and 1D/2D type models.
So when ordering a scanner it is a good idea to consider the type of environment and get the right scanner for the intended job.
Handheld barcode scanners and vertical table top barcode scanners
In a busy supermarket where many items are scanned at a POS checkout, a fixed mount barcode scanner is used instead of a handheld unit. The items to be scanned are passed in front of or presented to the scanner.
These fixed mount scanners can be used in may different types of industry where items are on conveyer belts etc.
Vertical Scanners are available in 1D or 1D/2D models.
Handheld Types of Barcode Scanners normally have a trigger that needs to be pressed when pointing at a barcode for the barcode to be scanned. Many of the handheld scanners also come with a Scan Stand that enables the scanner to auto-sense and scan the barcode when it is presented to the scanner.
This works similar to a fixed mount scanner but not as effectively.
Portable Data Terminals
Portable Data Terminals are scanners that have a display, keyboard and either 1D or 1D/2D built in scanner. Units are available with onboard memory that hold the scanned and entered data in memory until download. There are also models that have WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities that can transmit the scanned and entered data in real time. Read more here