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Types Of Barcode Readers – How To Choose the Right One?

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Barcodes are available in different types, each with its own advantages and limitations. With a wide range of options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.

You need to be aware of the various barcodes if you want to select one. To help you out with the same we have come up with this comprehensive guide. In this, we included all the information related to different barcode types, their standards, and their varied applications.

Continue reading below to know which barcode variant works the best for your industry and provides much efficiency.

Let us dive into the discussion.

What Are The Different Types Of Barcodes?

Barcodes are basically of two different types. They are 1D and 2D. Depending on the amount of data you intend to store, you will have to use the barcode type.

  • 1D Barcode

1d barcode1D barcodes are nothing but linear barcodes with 12-digit UPC codes. They appear like black and white stripes with spacing.

The downside of the 1D barcode is that the barcode keeps becoming more longer if you try including more information to it.

However, majority of the applications, i.e., about 90%, use the 1D barcode.

  • 2D Barcode

2d barcode2D code is almost like the QR codes and data matrix. Similar to them, 2D uses squares, hexagons, and other shapes to store the data.

In 2D barcode, it reads the data in two dimensions because of the horizontal and vertical arrangement of the data.

The upside of a 2D barcode is that although it is smaller than the 1D code, it can store more information of up to 100 characters. Here is another significant feature and merit of 2D code.

It can carry different kinds of information like the image, voice, website address, etc. Whereas, 1D code can only carry alphanumerics.

To read the 2D barcodes, you need a 2D camera image scanner. The prominence of this camera is that it consists of hundreds of tiny lights like the CCD scanner. These tiny lights, however, are in the arrangement of multiple rows. Whenever the light passes through the barcode, the scanner takes a digital picture, and then sends it to the software as a digital signal. It is the software’s job to decode this information.

Barcode Scanner

To scan any barcode, you need a specific scanner called the barcode scanner that transmits the scanned output to the computer. These barcode scanners are available in various types. You may have to do a little research to choose the right type that best suits your business.

What Are The Different Types Of Barcode Scanners?

Barcode scanners are majorly of four types based on the technology used. They are:

  1. Pen Type or Wand Type Readers
  2. Laser Barcode Scanners
  3. CCD Readers
  4. Imager Barcode Scanner (Camera-Based)

Let us learn about each type in detail here.

1. Pen Type or Wand Type Readers

Pen Type barcode scannerThe pen-type barcode scanner, also known as a wand-type scanner, resembles a pen or wand. Hence, the name.

Construction

These scanners feature LED light and a photodiode placed side-by-side in the tip of the pen.

Scanning Process

  • You need to drag the tip of the wand across the barcode to read the code. Make sure you do it in a steady motion for all the bars.
  • When you scan, the light gets reflected back to the scanner, and the photodiode present inside the scanner measures this light.
  • It further generates a waveform to measure the widths between the white and dark bars, and the spaces in the barcode.
  • While the white bars reflect the light, the dark ones absorb it. This process helps in replicating the bar and space pattern of the barcode.
  • After the voltage waveform creates this duplicate pattern, the information is ready.
  • This information is now in the digital reading that gets transmitted to another unit for processing.

Characteristic Features

The pen-type barcode scanners are highly durable and quickly scan the barcode images on the products or packages.

Price

These pen or wand-type scanners are the least expensive of all the scanner types available.

The downside of using a pen-type reader is that it requires utmost care and precision from the user to scan the barcode. The scanner has to come in contact with the barcode. Any negligence or human error will cause you to obtain incorrect data. Hence, the user needs more practice to scan things perfectly without any shakiness.

2. Laser Barcode Scanners

Laser Barcode ScannersLaser barcode scanners are the most popular type of scanners widely used in retail.

Construction

As the name says, these barcode scanners use a laser to scan the code. The laser barcode scanners feature a mirror (lens), a laser beam (light), and a photodiode.

Scanning Process

The working or scanning process of a laser barcode is similar to the pen-type scanner. However, the results are not as accurate as those of the latter.

  • The scanner shoots a laser beam at the mirror present in the unit.
  • The mirror inside moves and as a result, the laser light passes across the barcode of the product in a straight line.
  • After it reads the code, the light gets reflected back to the scanner, and the photodiode present inside the scanner measures this light.
  • It further generates a waveform to measure the widths between the white and dark bars, and the spaces in the barcode.
  • While the white bars reflect the light, the dark ones absorb it. This process helps in replicating the bar and space pattern of the barcode.
  • After the voltage waveform creates this duplicate pattern, the information is ready.
  • This information is now in the digital reading that gets transmitted to another unit for processing.

The upside of using laser barcode scanners is that they are available either as hand-held or mounted. Unlike the pen-type scanners, you do not have to bring them in contact with the barcode to scan them. A standard model can read the barcode easily from a distance of 6 to 24 inches. While a long-range laser barcode scanner reads the code from a distance of two to eight feet, the extra-long one does it from about 30 feet.

Characteristic Features

The most significant feature of a laser barcode is that it can read the barcodes irrespective of their orientation. And the best part, it can easily perform up to 500 scans in just one second.

Price

The laser barcode scanners are cost-effective.

3. CCD Readers

CCD barcode scannerThe Charge Coupled Device scanners are linear images.

Construction

The CCD scanners feature an imaging engine to capture the barcode image and then decode its characters.

Scanning Process

  • The imagine engine of the CCD scanners consists of a multitude of tiny light sensors lined up in the head of the scanner.
  • You can consider each sensor as a single photodiode that measures the light intensity.
  • When reading, the scanner shoots these tiny directly onto the barcode.
  • The sensor in the unit measures the voltage of the ambient light directly that lies in front of each lightbulb. Here, it does not measure the light.
  • This voltage measurement captures the barcode image and presents it as a digital snapshot.

Characteristic Features

The Charge Coupled Device scanners are the most popular scanners used in point of sale (POS) applications. They give you the most accurate results.

Price

The CCD scanners are very economical, highly durable, and require less maintenance when compared to other types.

The downside of CCD scanners is that you need to place them at a definite length from the barcode, i.e., 3cms to 10 cms. Failing to adhere to this, will disable their reading capacity. As a result, they cannot read any barcode that does not come under the mentioned range of the scanner monitor.

4. Imager Barcode Scanner (Camera-Based)

Imager Barcode ScannerThe imager barcode scanners use a video camera to capture images.

Construction

These scanners feature camera, and image processing techniques.

Scanning Process

  • Using the camera integrated within the unit, these devices capture an image of the barcode.
  • After capturing, they use sophisticated image processing techniques to decode the code.

Characteristic Features

The image barcode scanners are capable of reading almost any barcode virtually. They are high-speed devices and can scan multiple codes in one pass.

These are 2D barcode scanners that can scan any type of 2D barcodes like QR codes, DataMatrix barcodes, and linear barcodes.

Price

The imager barcode scanners are more expensive than the linear and laser barcode scanners.

What Are The Other Types of Barcode Scanners?

Barcode scanners come in various types than the ones mentioned above. Here is a list of the other types of scanners:

  1. Fixed Mount Barcode Scanners
  2. In-Counter Barcode Scanners
  3. Presentation Barcode Scanners (Also On-Counter Scanners)
  4. Handheld Barcode Scanners
  5. Mobile Computer Barcode Scanners
  6. Wearable Barcode Scanners

1. Fixed Mount Barcode Scanners

Fixed Mount Barcode ScannersAs the name suggests, the fixed mount barcode scanners come fixed or mounted to a stationary location.

Construction

These scanners feature lasers to scan different types of barcodes like 1D and 2D and DPM barcodes.

You need to mount these scanners at definite locations, heights, and angles. This enables them to scan the code with utmost accuracy and high speed. Since the fixed mounted scanners come fixed, they do not need a user to point the products for scanning.

Characteristic Features

The fixed mount barcode scanners can read the barcodes on the products or items at high speeds and also high volumes.

Applications

You can see the application of fixed mount barcode scanners in high-speed environments like business, access control checkpoints, industries, etc.

You can commonly see them at places like security checkpoints in airports. You can also find them as QR codes.

These fixed mount barcode scanners are capable of reading DPM barcodes. You can find them mostly in industries like automotive, defense, and aerospace manufacturing.

2. In-Counter Barcode Scanners

In-Counter Barcode ScannersIn-counter scanners are the most familiar ones often found in large grocery and retail stores.

Construction

These scanners look and function just like their fixed counterparts. However, the only difference is that the latter is stationary. The in-counter barcode scanners come integrated with the retail POS counters to easily and quickly scan the codes on the packages or items, passing over them. This eliminates the need for a retail worker to work by pointing the scanner at the barcodes on the products.

Characteristic Features

The in-counter barcode scanners can also scan other items like coupons, loyalty cards, codes on mobile phones, etc.

Application

You can see the in-counter barcode scanners at the cashier lines and also the self-checkouts, grocery and retail stores.

3. Presentation Barcode Scanners

Presentation Barcode ScannersPresentation scanners, also called on-counter scanners, sit on the counter.

Construction

These barcode scanners do not come integrated on the counter. Instead, they rest on the counter. Unlike in the in-counter scanners, the users have to hold the scanner to read the barcodes on the items.

Characteristic Features

You can use the on-counter barcode scanners together with the in-counter scanners.

Application

You can see the on-counter barcode scanners at the cashier lines and also the self-checkouts in grocery and retail stores.

4. Handheld Barcode Scanners

Handheld Barcode ScannersHandheld barcode scanners come in many variants like wired models, wireless, and even batch scanners.

Construction

They look similar to a pistol in design containing handle. The user activates the scanner by pulling the trigger while pointing it to the barcode.

Other models come designed like a TV remote having a button to activate the scanner.

Characteristic Features

The handheld barcode scanners offer ease of use, great freedom and versatility in movement.

Let us have a look at the corded and wireless variants of the handheld barcode scanners and their applications.

a) Corded Handheld Barcode Scanners

Corded handheld scanners are those that have their integration with the retail POS applications. You can use these scanners to read barcodes on items that are very heavy.

b) Wireless Handheld Barcode Scanners

The wireless or cordless handheld scanners use Bluetooth technology. Using this technology, they transmit the real-time data to a host for uploading. The data includes several information like inventory updates, batch scanning, etc. You can integrate some models of the Bluetooth wireless handheld barcode scanners with smart devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Applications

You can see the handheld barcode scanners in various industries like retail, grocery, field services, etc.

5. Mobile Computer Barcode Scanners

The mobile computer barcode scanners look similar to the handheld scanners and are hence often mistaken as one.

Construction

These devices come in the design of a pistol resembling the handheld scanners. They feature a small keyboard and screen and have the greater processing power.

Furthermore, they have a combined functioning of both portable barcode scanners and PC. This enables the users to scan the barcodes on products and also access any necessary information, irrespective of where they are.

Characteristic Features

The mobile computer barcode scanners have internal memory. They can also communicate wirelessly using Wi-Fi, mobile data services, WLAN.

Applications

The mobile computer barcode scanners have the great processing power, are very convenient, and offer mobility. You can use these devices in industries like transportation, warehouses, retail, manufacturing, etc., for varied purposes like:

  • Tracking the Assets
  • Check the Prices

6. Tablet & Smartphone-Style Barcode Scanners

Tablet & Smartphone-Style Barcode ScannersThe Tablet and smartphone-styled scanners look similar to the smart devices like the tablets and smartphones. They operate just like those devices.

Construction

These devices contain camera to scan the barcodes. They are capable of delivering the computer’ processing power.

Characteristic Features

The tablet and smartphone-styled scanners are compatible with any operating system like Windows, Android, and iOS. The users who operate these devices require less training, as they are easy to use.

Applications

Their interfaces are very easy to use and this make them viable option for various applications in industries like retail, healthcare, manufacturing, shipping, etc.

The smaller devices are very compact in design that you can easily carry them in the pocket.

7. Wearable Barcode Scanners

Wearable Barcode ScannersWearable scanners are nothing but a combination of handheld scanners and the fixed barcode scanners.

Construction 

These wearable barcode scanners are portable as handheld scanners and flexible as fixed barcode scanners.

Characteristic Features

The wearable barcode scanners use Bluetooth technology that communicates wirelessly using Wi-Fi, WLAN, etc.

Since they are wearable, you can easily wear them on your hand, finger, wrist, or arm. Additionally, some models even come as head-mounted devices. These types of scanners save much time from stopping, reaching, scanning, and putting down a scanner.

Applications

You can use these wearable barcode scanners in retail, warehouses, field service, etc.

Conclusion:

Barcodes are available in different types for varied purposes in several industries. Depending on your business, you can choose a suitable type. This write-up should serve as an ultimate guide to help you choose the right device for your industry.

Let us know if you find the information in this article helpful. Feel free to share your inputs with us by posting in the comments section below. Reach out to us if you have any questions or need more information. We will answer all your queries at the earliest.

Stay healthy and stay safe!!!

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