A barcode scanner is a handheld or hands-free device that when triggered will read a barcode. Typically barcode scanners will emit a red line or series of lines to enable the user to line up the barcode with the scanner. The reading technology inside the scanner is either Wand, CCD, Laser or Imager.
Hand held wand / pen type scanner
This is the simplest and least expensive scanner available. Wands require you to hold them at a certain angle and be passed directly over the barcode at a consistent speed. With these requirements, wands have a high “frustration factor” making them difficult at times. Wands present a variety of challenges making them the most useful when price is the most important factor.
CCD readers normally use light emitting diodes (LEDs) to produce the light beam and a charge coupled device array (CCD) to read the reflected light. When using CCD technology you must take into consideration the fixed reading distance, the depth of field and the angle of the scan. CCD readers are usually linear scanners, with a thicker scan beam than the laser readers.
Handheld CCD scanners will be more practical and reliable for your point of sale scanning. They cost more than a wand but they are more reliable and efficient. They also work great in bright outdoor environments. However, CCDs can only read bar codes from a close distance (6 inches) and the item scanned must be flat. For example, they can’t read bar codes on bottles or cans.
Laser technology has a built in laser diode to emit the beam which is then deflected by an oscillating mirror. Laser technology is capable of reading over a range of distances with large depths and extreme scan angles. Laser technology is capable of reading many barcode formats.
Most retailers use laser scanners because they’re reliable and versatile. They can read from long distances and they’ll handle un-even surfaces like bottles. A standard laser will read a barcode from 8 to 24 inches away, and a long range scanner will read a bar code from 40 feet away.
Imager technology uses a small camera to capture 1D and 2D barcodes. It then decodes the barcode using digital image processing. The area to read is usually illuminated by LEDs and the aiming mark is provided by a laser. The light is either captured by a CCD or imager.
Imagers have become a very popular and viable alternative to lasers scanners. Imagers are fast, durable, affordable and they work in bright sunlight. Their only limitation is long range scanning. Imagers are technically similar to CCDs but they use an advanced imaging technology that allows for much faster scanning and better performance on poor quality codes. Plus Imagers offer an attractive price tag – as they’re generally less expensive than laser scanners.