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System ID offers some of the most competitive prices in the industry thanks to our elite top-tier partner status with manufacturers such as Motorola, Symbol, Datalogic, Honeywell, Intermec, and Wasp Barcode. System ID has a large selection of handheld barcode scanners for inventory management, shipping and receiving, and retail – even iPhone, Android, and iPad compatible scanners. Barcode scanners automate the identification and tracking of products, people, inventory, and assets for ultimate efficiency and transparent compliance across the supply chain. Also known as barcode readers, these electronic devices use laser, linear imager, or 2D area imager scan engines to capture images and transmit them to a host computer. System ID offers several types of barcode scanners with features unique to specific environments, applications, and industries.

Everything You Need to Know About Barcode Scanners There's a lot of options when it comes to barcode scanners? But here's Everything You Need to Know About Barcode Scanners.
  • Warehouse Inventory Scanner System
  • Complete Inventory Management Systems

  • System ID offers complete inventory scanning systems that include everything from the barcode scanner to the barcode printer to the software, and even the labels and supplies. We can also help you configure your wireless warehouse network and provide you a mobile device management solution.

  • Warehouse Scanner System
  • Warehouse Scanner Systems

  • Backed by Datalogic's industry-leading, industry-tested Powerscan, learn how System ID can help your warehouse or manufacturing facility implement a reliable and efficient scanning system to better manage tracking, production, distribution, and overall efficiency.

  • Datalogic Powerscan PBT9500 Scanner
  • Datalogic Powerscan PBT9500 Scanner

  • Ability to read virtually any barcode in any orientation, at distances of up to 3.3'. Renders snappy reads every time, with visual and audio confirmation.

  • Motorola MC9200 Rugged Mobile Computer
  • Motorola MC9200 Mobile Computer

  • Scan 1D, 2D, DPM codes, and driver's licenses with ease and speed knowing the MC9200 was built with performance and reliability in mind.

  • Intermec CN51 Mobile Computer
  • Intermec CN51 Mobile Computer

  • A choice between Windows or Android OS make the Intermec CN51 one of the most multi-functional rugged mobile computers on the market.

  • Symbol LI2208 Barcode Scanner
  • Symbol LI2208 Barcode Scanner

  • LI2208 1D Linear Imager brings you the next generation of 1D scanning technology to help you increase production.

  • Datalogic Gryphon GD4400 2D Scanner
  • Datalogic Gryphon GD4400 2D Scanner

  • Performs omnidirectional reading on a wide range of symbologies from the most common 1D and 2D barcodes to stacked and postal codes.

  • Intermec CK71 Mobile Computer
  • Intermec CK71 Mobile Computer

  • Provides true functionality agility in the most demanding warehouse, distribution, and manufacturing environments.

  • Zebra TC8000 Mobile Computer
  • Zebra TC8000 Mobile Computer

  • Superior ergonomics for superior productivity and worker comfort and rugged and ready for your warehouse.

  • Symbol LS2208 Barcode Scanner
  • Symbol LS2208 Barcode Scanner

  • Ideal for all non-industrial scanning applications, delivering quick and accurate scanning.

  • Intermec SR61 Barcode Scanner
  • Intermec SR61 Barcode Scanner

  • Optimal for mobile field service and transportation workers who need power and performance in a compact form factor.

  • Motorola TC55 Mobile Computer
  • Motorola TC55 Mobile Computer

  • Features increased security and advanced technology for everyday enterprise use as well as an enhanced Android operating system.

  • Intermec CK3X Wireless Scanner
  • Intermec CK3X Wireless Scanner

  • Best in-class processing architecture, battery life, scanning, and device configuration, takes performance to a whole new level.

  • Motorola MC55-A Mobile Computer
  • Motorola MC55-A Mobile Computer

  • Ideal for retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and hospitality applications, and is available with 802.11 and Bluetooth radios.

  • Datalogic Falcon X3+ Scanner
  • Datalogic Falcon X3+ Scanner

  • All units ship pre-licensed for Wavelink Avalanche and include Wavelink Terminal Emulation for rapid deployment and connectivity.

  • Honeywell Dolphin 70e Black Scanner
  • Honeywell Dolphin 70e Black Scanner

  • Remote device management solution, and a rugged design that rivals that of traditional rugged mobile computers.

  • Motorola WT41N0 Wearable Scanner
  • Motorola WT41N0 Wearable Scanner

  • Worn on your arm or your belt, allowing you to keep both hands on your task while still interacting with the mobile computer.

  • Datalogic Gryphon GBT4400 2D Scanner
  • Datalogic Gryphon GBT4400 2D Scanner

  • Offers motion-sensing technology to operate hands free when in a stand but automatically switch to trigger mode when picked up.

  • Honeywell Thor Vehicle Mount
  • Honeywell Thor Vehicle Mount

  • An extremely durable vehicle mount computer, its aluminum housing has an IP66-seal rating and MIL-STD-810F military rating.

  • Motorola MC9500-K Mobile Scanner
  • Motorola MC9500-K Mobile Scanner

  • A rugged industrial mobile computer ideal for logistics, direct store delivery (DSD), and public safety.

  • Zebra TC70 Mobile Computer
  • Zebra TC70 Mobile Computer

  • Android handheld mobile computer ideal for point-of-sale and field service, but rugged enough for the warehouse.

  • Datalogic Skorpio X3 Scanner
  • Datalogic Skorpio X3 Scanner

  • Rugged mobile computer particularly suitable for mobile applications in the retail environment both on store shelves and in the stock room.

Barcode Scanner Guide

If you're new to barcoding, we know that it can be overwhelming to shop for a barcode scanner or mobile computer. After all, there are many types of scanning technologies with a wide range of features for nearly any industry and environment. To ensure you select the right scanner for your specific needs, no matter if it's a Symbol scanner or any other brand, we've created the helpful topics below, which contain general information about barcode scanners and mobile computers.


Customers new to barcoding typically ask, “What is a barcode scanner?” The answer is actually quite simple.

A barcode scanner—also known as a barcode reader—is an electronic device that decodes and physically captures information contained in barcodes.

It consists of the following components, which work together to collect, analyze, and transmit data contained in a printed barcode:

  • Light source: Illuminates the barcode for proper reading.
  • Lens: Scans the barcode image.
  • Photo conductor: Translates optical impulses into electrical ones.
  • Decoder: Analyzes the data and sends the content to the scanner’s output port. A decoder can be internal or external.

Buying Tip

Automating the data collection process using barcode scanners reduces human error and expedites processing of everyday tasks.

How does it work?

A scan engine sits inside a barcode scanner. When the device is activated, the engine works with the light source, lens, photo conductor, and decoder to read the barcode. This allows organizations to extract information stored in the code.

After capturing an image, barcode scanners link to a host computer to pass along the scanned information. This process automates the data collection process so organizations can reduce human error and expedite tasks such as tracking inventory, managing assets, and monitoring point-of-sale transactions.

Because of their versatility, 2D barcode scanners are quickly replacing 1Ds as the scanner of choice for most organizations. However, they aren’t always a perfect fit for everybody.

To determine whether you need a barcode scanner with a 1D or a 2D scan engine, compare common features below.

Note: This comparison is based on a 1D scanner with a laser scan engine.


Buying Tip

A 2D scanner scans both 1D and 2D barcodes. To future proof your business, purchase a 2D scanner.

FEATURE

1D SCANNER

2D SCANNER

Reads 1D barcodes

Yes

Yes

Reads 2D barcodes

X

Yes

Offers corded and cordless models

Yes

Yes

Comes in a variety of form factors

Yes

Yes

Uses popular cable interfaces such as USB

Yes

Yes

Reads damaged or poorly printed barcodes*

X

Yes

Decodes barcodes from any angle (omnidirectional)**

X

Yes

Processes barcodes faster

X

Yes

Captures digital images of documents and signatures

X

Yes

Reads QR codes

X

Yes

Scans codes on reflective surfaces*

X

Yes

Supports OCR fonts

X

Yes

Includes options for reading at long ranges

X

Yes

Enables mobile couponing*

X

Yes

Encodes significant amounts of data

X

Yes

Supports Direct Part Marking (DPM) for permanent tracking*

X

Yes

Future proofs organizations

X

Yes

There are three primary barcode scan engines: laser, linear imager, and 2D area imager. Each works differently in mobile computers and barcode scanners to accommodate the needs of specific environments and industries.

Laser

Laser scan engines are the most popular type of barcode scan engine because they can scan barcodes at distances from 1 inch to 3.5 feet. A laser scan engine shoots a laser beam toward a mirror. The mirror moves, which causes the laser to sweep across the barcode in a straight line. A diode measures the level of reflection and translates it into a digital signal.

While popular, laser scan engines only read linear, or one-dimensional (1D), barcodes such as UPC-A, which is widely used by retailers and grocers. Therefore, laser scan engines aren’t always a fit for everyone.

PROS

CONS

  • Ensures precise scans in areas with good lighting
  • Scans at distances from 1” to 3.5’
  • Most affordable
  • Only reads linear (1D) barcodes
  • Doesn't read damaged or poorly printed barcodes very well

Buying Tip

Determine which scan engine you need before deciding on a scanner type. Imagers are best for reading damaged or poorly printed barcodes.

Linear imager

Another example of a 1D scan engine is a linear imager, which is also known as a charged coupled device (CCD). Linear imagers are a great option when scanning barcodes that are less than two feet away.

Unlike a laser scan engine—which uses a beam and mirrors to read barcodes—a linear imager captures an image of a 1D barcode by aligning hundreds of tiny LED lights in a row and shooting light directly onto the barcode. A sensor measures the voltage of the light directly in front of each light bulb. Like laser scan engines, linear imagers only read 1D barcodes. However, because they take a digital image of the barcode, they can read poorly printed and damaged barcodes better than lasers.

PROS

CONS

  • Fewer moving parts, which minimizes risk of failure
  • Works great in environments with low lighting
  • Reads damaged or poorly printed barcodes better than lasers
  • Doesn’t read 2D barcodes
  • Costs more than laser

2D area imager

A 2D area imager scan engine also captures digital images. But unlike a linear imager, a 2D scan engine reads both 1D and 2D barcodes by flashing light onto multiple rows of tiny light bulbs.

Because a 2D scan engine takes a picture of the barcode, they, too, can read damaged barcodes, which makes them ideal for environments where reliability and flexibility are important.

Another advantage of 2D scan engines is that they can read barcodes from any orientation. This makes them faster and more accurate than laser and linear imagers.

Companies with field service personnel tend to prefer 2D barcode scan engines because they can capture images of documents and signatures, which minimize their risk of fraud.

PROS

CONS

  • Reads both linear (1D) and 2D barcodes
  • Reads damaged or poorly printed barcodes better than lasers or linear imagers
  • Scans from any angle
  • Most expensive
  • Usually difficult to read when less than 6” away

Compare scan engine types

The following table provides a quick overview of each barcode scan engine.

Engine

Description

Use

Ideal for

Laser

  • The most popular type of barcode scan engine
  • Uses a laser beam to read the difference in the spaces between a barcode’s vertical lines
  • Rapidly toggles mirrors back and forth to produce the thin red laser line
  • Only reads linear
    (1D or one-dimensional) barcodes
  • Works best when precise scanning is necessary
  • Easily targets a laser line
  • Comes in three basic configurations: moving beam (single line), rastering (lines that cover an area), and omnidirectional
  • Environments with low lighting
  • Scanning at distances from 1” to 3.5’.

INDUSTRIES

  • Almost any environment, especially retail

Linear Imager

  • Also known as a charged coupled device (CCD);
  • Doesn’t use lasers to read barcodes; instead takes a digital image (picture) of the barcode
  • Reads linear
    (1D or one-dimensional) barcodes; some models read stacked 2D barcodes and composite symbols
  • Usually more durable than laser scan engines
  • Fewer moving parts, which minimizes risk of failure
  • Scanning at distances from 1” to 3.5’
  • Reading barcodes under a reflective surface such as plastic wrap
  • Reading poorly printed or damaged barcodes 

INDUSTRIES

  • Retail
  • Shipping
  • Receiving
  • Inventory

2D Area Imager

  • Also known as a 2D or digital imager
  • Uses a combination of digital camera technology and software to capture barcodes
  • Functions like a digital camera; bounces a burst of light off of the barcode and back into the lens
  • Reads both linear (1D) and 2D barcodes
  • Can read barcodes from any orientation
  • Captures digital images such as signatures and documents with printed fonts
  • Scanning hard-to-reach images from any direction and distance with extended range capabilities
  • Reading poorly printed or damaged barcodes
  • Organizations that need versatility and want to future-proof their operations

INDUSTRIES

  • Most any industry including those that specifically use 2D barcodes, such as the USPS

Sometimes referred to as form factors because of the housing or design of the device, barcode scanners are categorized in several types, which have features unique to specific environments, applications, and industries.

All scanners incorporate barcode scan engines to read linear (1D) or 2D barcodes.

Handheld

The most common type of scanner, handheld barcode scanners are extremely easy to use and perform a variety of functions.

They come in both corded and cordless (wireless) styles and are available with laser, linear imager, or 2D area imager scan engines.

Corded scanners work great for manufacturing, retail, groceries, warehouses, healthcare, and logistics.

Cordless scanners also work well in these environments, but excel in companies where flexibility is essential.

Buying Tip

Handheld scanners are the most popular type of barcode scanner and are great for companies new to barcoding.

Mobile computers

Mobile computers combine the functionality of a computer and a scanner into a single device. They come equipped with your choice of operating system (OS) and allow you to upload software applications.

Like barcode scanners, they come with either a 1D or a 2D scan engine, and they are great options for mobile workforces.

However, unlike scanners, mobile computers can store data on their hard drives, which makes them perfect for companies that need to instantly edit and share information across the enterprise.

Presentation

A presentation scanner is also known as an on-counter scanner because it is designed to sit on top of a counter for hands-free operations. Users simply scan items in front of it for easy reading. Presentation scanners are the only ones that can be 1D and omnidirectional.

In-Counter

A type of presentation scanner, an in-counter scanner sits inside a counter to facilitate easy scanning.

Fixed-Mount

Fixed-mount scanners read barcodes using sensors that are triggered when items pass in front of them. These scanners integrate with large automated systems and are usually found on conveyors in assembly lines and on vehicles such as forklifts.

Wearable

Wearable scanners are typically worn on the arm, hand, or finger to expedite processing of barcodes. They are particularly useful in environments where hands-free processing is required and voice picking technology is implemented.

Pocket-Sized

Also referred to as mini scanners, these cordless devices fit inside a pocket to facilitate quick scans and easy pairing with Bluetooth-enabled devices such as tablets and smartphones.

RFID

Fixed (stationary) RFID readers and handheld RFID-enabled scanners communicate with RFID tags using antennas and radio waves that send and receive signals from microchips stored in their tags.

Compare barcode scanner types

The table on the following page compares the barcode scanner types.

BARCODE SCANNER TYPES

Type

Description

Use

Ideal for

Handheld

  • The most common type of barcode scanner
  • Offers both corded and cordless (wireless) versions
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Uses a trigger to capture the image
  • Stands are available for hands-free operations

CORDED

  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Grocery stores
  • Warehouses
  • Healthcare
  • Logistics

CORDLESS (WIRELESS)

  • Retail
  • Warehouses
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics
  • Field services

Mobile Computer

  • Combines the functionality of computers and scanners into one handheld device
  • Commonly confused with a wireless or cordless scanners, which typically only provide the ability to scan
  • Enables users to efficiently work within and beyond four walls
  • Provides more processing power than traditional barcode scanners
  • Stores data into internal memory
  • Enables real-time transmission of information via a wireless network (WAN)
  • All organizations that desire true mobility for such tasks as managing inventory and tracking assets
  • Field services and other mobile workforce personnel
  • Companies using voice technology

Presentation

  • Also known as an on-counter scanner because it is designed to sit on top of a counter
  • Considered hands-free (stationary) because users do not have to hold these scanners
  • Is the only 1D scanner that is omnidirectional
  • Has a wide reading area that makes it easy to scan multiple items
  • Does not require a trigger—the scanner automatically reads barcodes when an item is placed in front of it
  • Retail
  • Grocery stores

In-Counter

  • Similar to presentation counters because they are stationary and have a wide reading area
  • Allows users to easily scan multiple items
  • Requires a professional installation
  • Embedded into counters, rather than on top of them
  • Automatically reads barcodes when an item is placed in front of it without having to pull a trigger
  • Grocery stores
  • Self-check lines in retail stores

Fixed-Mount

  • Reads barcodes using sensors or controllers that are triggered when items pass in front of it
  • Most have a laser scan engine that requires users to mount them at a specific angle and distance from the barcodes that will pass in front of them
  • Designed to be integrated with large automated systems
  • Typically used on a conveyor line or in a kiosk and are sometimes attached to a vehicle such as a forklift
  • Available in multiple speeds to accommodate fast assembly lines
  • Eliminates the need for human intervention
  • Extremely durable and reliable
  • Work-in-progress (WIP) environments such as manufacturers
  • Organizations with high-speed sorting along conveyor systems, such as warehouses and logistics
  • Laboratories (use small models)
  • Kiosks and security ID apps
  • Vehicles

Wearable

  • Also known as a back-of-hand scanner
  • Straps a small box with the laser barcode scanner to either the back of the hand or on a finger (like a ring)
  • Keeps scanners conveniently close
  • Allows users to more freely use their hands
  • May have automatic scanning or be activated by a trigger so the scanner doesn’t inadvertently scan the wrong barcode
  • Environments such as warehouses where hands-free processing for tasks like picking products and carrying boxes is required
  • Organizations using  voice-picking technology

Pocket-Sized

  • Also known as a mini scanner
  • Fits in your pocket
  • Provides on-the-go convenience
  • Enables you to wirelessly transmit data to your smart phone or tablet from up to 33 feet
  • Fast, accurate scans of 1D barcodes
  • Long battery life
  •  Retail
  • Office
  • Healthcare
  • Warehouse management
  • Libraries and tool rooms

RFID

  • Also known as a handheld RFID reader
  • Can be used as a handheld or hands-free device
  • Requires RFID tags and system
  • Adjustable power levels for inadvertent RFID tag reads
  • Withstands the rigors of everyday use, including drops
  • Accurate and ultra-fast
  • Asset management
  • Retail POS
  • Transportation & logistics
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmacy
  • Library
  • Government

Sometimes after determining the barcode scan engine and scanner type, users need help deciding whether to purchase a corded or cordless barcode scanner.

The most important thing to consider is connectivity—you must know your requirements for scanning and transmitting information before buying a scanner. Location of items also factors in, as does the types of items you are scanning.

Corded scanner

As its name implies, a corded barcode scanner has a cable attached to it. The cord enables you to upload information in real time by communicating directly with the host computer using one of the following interfaces:

  • USB

    A widely used interface, USB is found on most barcode scanners. Simply plug the cord directly into the host computer to quickly transfer data. This minimizes your risk of losing scanned information.

  • PS/2

    This interface (also known as keyboard wedge) decodes and converts characters so it appears they came directly from the keyboard. This makes it easy to integrate with any application that accepts keyboard input.

  • RS232

    Some scanners have an RS232 port that feeds data from the scanner to the application using a “software wedge” program.

    A popular type of scanner, corded devices are usually less expensive than cordless ones; however, your scanning distance is limited to the cord length, which is typically five to six feet from the base. This means you must bring certain items to the scanner for reading.

    Another drawback is their failure rate. Due to repeated use, cords often wear out before scanners do, which may necessitate frequent replacements.

    Presentation scanners, such as counter-top designs, are usually corded because they in constant use. Devices like these enable quick, hands-free scanning. There are also corded barcode scanners for nearly every industry.

Buying Tip

The number one failure of corded scanners is the cord! So while cordless models cost a little more, they tend to last longer.

PROS

CONS

  • Transmits data in real time
  • Most common type
  • Least expensive
  • Easy to implement
  • Captures precise, visible images
  • Offers proprietary connections on certain models
  • Cords can cause scanners to fail and are not always safe
  • Limited to the scanner’s working range, which is typically as long as the cord (5 – 6’ on average)
  • Does not have the option to transmit data via batch
  • Requires you to bring certain items to the scanner for reading

Cordless scanner

Cordless barcode scanners (also known as wireless or portable scanners) store data in the device.

On most models, you have the option to transmit data to the host computer in real time using Bluetooth or radio technologies, or you can wait and send it later after returning the scanner to its base station.

In addition, most Bluetooth-enabled scanners can pair directly with other devices—such as laptops, tablets, and smart phones—without having to place the device in a cradle.

Easy to use and set up, cordless scanners are ideal for most applications because they travel wherever they are needed—provided you stay in working range, which is usually up to 100 feet or more. This capability proves popular for scanning large items with awkwardly placed labels that are difficult for corded scanners to reach.

But because they cost slightly more than corded scanners, cordless barcode scanners aren’t always the best option for some businesses.

PROS

CONS

  • Can transmit data in real time or in batch
  • Has a working range of up to 100+ feet
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Cost-effective
  • Ideal for most applications
  • Doesn’t require a wireless computer
  • Won’t impact existing software systems
  • Doesn’t work when out of range
  • Costs slightly more than corded scanners
  • Requires extra batteries for uninterrupted scanning

Compare corded and cordless scanners

The table below compares corded and cordless barcode scanners by providing a high-level overview of each.

COMPARE SCANNERS

 

Corded

Cordless

Description

  • Has a cord
  • Comes in a variety of types, including handheld, presentation, and in-counter
  • Less expensive than cordless
  • Does not have a cord
  • Comes in a variety of types, including handheld, mobile computer, fixed-mount, wearable, and pocket-sized
  • More expensive than corded

How They Work

  • Offers one transmission mode:
    • Real time – instantly transmits data to the host computer via an interface cable
  • Available connectivity interfaces:
    • USB
    • PS/2 (keyboard wedge)
    • RS232
  • Offers two transmission modes:
    • Real time – Instantlytransmits data to the host via Bluetooth or radio technologies
    • Batch – Stores data in internal memory and sends it when the scanner returns to its cradle
  • Can pair directly with another device—such as a laptop, tablet, or smart phone—without placing it in the cradle (Bluetooth-enabled devices only)

Range

  • Limited to the scanner’s working range, which is typically is as long as the cord (5-6’ on average)
  • Typical working range of 100+ feet

Ideal use

  • Ideal for organizations that scan items within close distance
  • Ideal for organizations that require a better range of motion and longer scanning distances

Industries

  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Grocery stores
  • Warehouses
  • Healthcare
  • Logistics
  • Retail
  • Warehouses
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing


Barcode Scanner Resources


A Warehouse and 2D Barcode Scanner

So, 2D barcodes are popular. Is that the attraction to warehouses? What does make the pairing of a warehouse and 2D barcode scanner so successful?

10 Reasons Retailers Should Use 2D Scanners

To realize faster, more accurate scans that speed transactions, support mobile couponing, and improve customer experiences, retailers should use 2D scanners.

Which Handheld Inventory Scanner is Right for You?

Handheld inventory scanners are the most popular type of barcode scanner due to their flexibility and ease of use when managing inventory.

Inventory Scanners: What’s Hot? What’s Not?

Today’s barcode scanners and mobile computers offer many new and improved features that deliver top performance in multiple industries and environments.

Motorola Symbol LS2208 Laser Barcode Scanner

Affordable and compact, the Motorola Symbol LS2208 laser barcode scanner provides fast, reliable scanning in an ergonomic, light-weight form.

Gryphon GBT4400 Makes Barcode Scanning Future-Proof

The Datalogic Gryphon GBT4400 reads a wide range of codes, including: 1D barcodes 2D barcodes Postal codes Stacked and composite codes.

System ID Client Testimonials

System ID Barcode Systems

Whether automating business processes for the first time, scaling existing systems, or optimizing environments with the latest barcode technology, System ID has the barcode systems businesses need to improve productivity and profitability. Automate. Scale. Optimize. With System ID Barcode Solutions.