Barcode Readers: Wireless and Handheld Readers
Beginners' Guide to Handheld Barcode Readers
Barcode readers come in a wide range of forms. The barcode industry has responded to the needs of businesses to provide everything from industrial readers which can scan high volumes of fast moving barcoded items on a conveyor belt to Wireless Barcode Scanners which store information for later download to a host computer. Spend a little time researching these products and you will find one designed for your needs.
Barcodes are made up of sequences of black lines and spaces and barcode scanners sense light patterns reflected from them and convert those patterns into electronic signals. Some scanners sense the ambient light reflected by the barcode and others have their own light source, a laser for example, which is reflected from the label and read in that way. These signals are decoded and sent to a computer as usable data. Barcode readers incorporate scanners and decoders. Take care not to purchase a standalone scanner , as these are sold as add-ons to existing readers and as individual components in custom systems.
Popular Types of Handheld Barcode Readers
Pen or "wand" readers: as the name suggests these are handheld pen-like instruments which are passed over barcodes and read them by shining a light, usually an LED at the label and sensing the reflected signal. This signal is decoded and passed on to a computer as the data itself. These and other barcode readers are often described as keyboard "wedge" readers as they connect between the keyboard and the PC, delivering code to almost any application as if it had been typed in.
Laser readers: these work in a similar way to LED readers using a laser as a light source instead. They are able to read barcodes from greater distances, and from fixed devices, such as supermarket scanners which use mirrors and prisms to move the beam across the label and read it from any direction. Handheld portable devices (wireless) are also available for use in warehousing where barcodes need to be read from a distance or on a conveyor belt. The main disadvantage to laser readers is cost - they are typically a lot more expensive than other types.
CCD readers: priced somewhere between "contact" pen readers and "non-contact" laser readers these devices use technology found in digital cameras to read the barcode as an image before decoding it. They do not need to be in contact with the label but can not be used for distance scanning. They are cheaper than laser readers and have no moving parts, making them suitable for rugged use.
Choose a barcode reader that will read the size and type of barcode on the labels you use, as quickly as you need it to do so. Specifications are very precise so pay attention to the details and look around to avoid paying too much for technology you don't require.