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How to choose a Barcode Scanner


Here is a technical guide to help you decide the best type of scanner to suit your needs; it has been set up in areas which are most important giving you the best chance of finding the right one for you.

1D or 2D

Knowing which type of barcode you will be scanning would be the most important part, there is a big difference between the two. If you are looking for a scanner which would be used for a standard barcode then you would need a typical 1D scanner, this could include the likes of store products and your common barcode which can be found on them.

The 2D scanner would include being able to scan both Linear barcodes and 2D codes, you are also able to scan from any angle to get the information from the 2D code and Linear barcodes. On some 2D scanners if there is any damaged codes then it would be able to read the barcodes information; this is due to the capability of having error correction which would be able to gather the information from the coding as though it was undamaged.

CCD, Laser or Imager

The CCD Scanners are used to illuminate the barcode with light from LEDs and are available in two types; contact scanners have a scan range from contact to 2-3cm and the medium range type’s ranges from 20-30cm.

CCD scanner has no moving parts which would make the scanner less prone to failure, there are no safety issues which can be found on these scanners due to the emitting of light being harmless but still have a fast scan rate.

Laser Scanners illuminate the barcode with light from a laser and are therefore capable of reading barcodes at a greater distance. The standard laser scanners are typically able to read barcodes up to 30cm, with long range versions able to read barcodes up to 10M.
The laser scanners are able to scan larger barcodes which is something which may be considered when looking into the purchasing of a barcode scanner, the laser scanners are also easy to use which would mean untrained staff with the scanner would be able to use it without training.

Imagers use a small camera to capture the information from 1D and 2D barcodes, the barcode is then decoded using digital image processing. With the ability to scan the 2D barcodes you would be able to gather more information on the scanner from the barcode.

Corded or Wireless

The choice of having a corded or wireless scanner is all down to the application, if the user of the scanner as to be using it whilst traveling around or going further than what a cable would stretch then this would be ideal. The benefit or the corded barcode scanners would be the price as they are significantly cheaper and is perfect for the scanning of barcodes which would be near to the computer.

The wireless scanners are going to be best suited for the users who would need to travel away from the computer in order to scan; different scanners would have different ranges which would need to be looked at when picking the right scanner for you. The wireless would also be beneficial if you are after a scanner and not having the hassle with any wires which may get in the way whilst you are working, they are easy to use and also the wireless scanners have a batch mode which will store any information you have scanned whilst out of range from the cradle.

Fixed or Handheld

If you’re like most grocery stores and you need to scan small items very fast, then a fixed mount omni-directional scanner could be your best option. They’re great because you can quickly move the item in front of the fixed scanner. But if you also scan large items you’ll need a hand held scanner too. So you’ll have to invest in two scanners and spend more money

Types of Surface

If you want to scan “un-even” surfaces like pop cans or bottles? Then Wand or CCD would not be useful. You should choose a laser scanner or linear imager that can handle un-even surfaces.


Do you need a scanner that operates under bright sunlight? If so… make sure you choose a CCD scanner, linear imager or a laser with high visibility. High visibility laser scanners use a brighter beam of light that will overcome this problem.


Do you need to scan items at long ranges? If you scan items in a large environment (like a warehouse) choose a laser scanner with “long range” capabilities. Long range scanners typically have an “aiming beam”, which is a bright dot to assist the user in locating the bar code. You can read bar codes up to 40 feet away, but the bar code needs to be large and printed on “retro reflective” material that can reflect a lot of light.

Speed of Scanning

Do you want to scan items very fast? If so… you should consider an “omni-directional” scanner. These scanners allow you to check items very fast because it doesn’t matter how the bar code is positioned. The rest of the scanners require the bar code be turned in a specific direction because they only emit a single line. Just think about your last visit to the grocery store. Can you imagine how slow it would be if the cashier has to make sure every bar code was turned a specific direction? Omni-directional scanners save them a lot of time because it doesn’t matter which way the bar code is positioned.

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