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

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Almost every commercial item in the world is right now tagged with a certain code. This code can be scanned to obtain information about said product. This information includes the origin of the product, quantity, type of the product, retail price, and many other crucial factors. Usually, the codes printed on the product packaging are called barcodes as they appear similar to vertical bars in different heights and widths.

These barcodes can only be decoded with a certain gadget called the barcode scanner or a POS scanner. The sole purpose of this scanner is to decode the information available in the barcode format. These scanners put the barcode through an algorithm that decrypts the information which is encoded via the barcode and displays it on a digital screen. Today, you can find these barcode scanners even on your smartphone.

In this article, we are going to explain different types of barcode scanners that are widely used in many commercial stores and supermarkets. But before we take on the barcode scanners, let’s take a look at the two basic types of barcodes that are commonly printed on different products.

Types of Barcodes

After simple observation, you will find all barcodes looking similar and won’t notice any significant difference within multiple barcodes. Still, different barcodes provide different results after scanning. To understand how the information is encoded and decoded in a barcode, we will have to understand what a barcode is.

A barcode is a simple diagram that consists of vertical bars. These bars differ in thickness and are placed at a certain gap from one other. The barcodes are only readable by an optical barcode scanner or a barcode scanning application on a smartphone. 2 different types of barcodes are mentioned below.


1D barcodes (also known as one-dimensional barcodes) are simpler types of codes that represent data by varying the thickness of the bars and spacing between the parallel bars. These barcodes are quite similar to some of the universally used bar codes such as the UPC and EAN bar codes. Due to their simplicity, 1D barcodes are also called linear codes.

Due to the limited space and compact size of the code, a 1D barcode usually holds a lesser amount of information as compared to a 2D barcode. 1D barcodes are only beneficial for industrial applications where they represent basic information and reduce the workflow efficiently. Also, these codes can hold enough information to be put on a lot of commercial objects.


You might not be familiar with the 2D barcodes by their primary name. But you can visualize a QR code as it is quite common in social media applications as well as a lot of commercial products. A 2D code more or less looks like a QR code and represents the data in form of symbols and shapes. As there can be more shapes than numbers, a 2D barcode can represent a lot more data per unit area as compared to the 1D barcodes.

A great feature of 2D barcodes is that they are partially scannable and still represent the data. Thus, it stays useful even if the barcode is damaged or the paper is torn. Also, the scanning time required for 2D barcodes is much lesser than a 1D barcode. Hence, it is used where scanning speed is a crucial factor.

Types of barcode scanners or Readers

As a barcode can only be scanned by the correct barcode scanner, it is necessary to know about different types of barcode readers available in the market. These barcode scanners serve a dedicated purpose and are suitable for distinct applications such as scanning price tags of consumer products or scanning the codes available on newspapers and other important documents.

A barcode reader decrypts the data available in a barcode by capturing an image of the barcode and then running the data through the database of that particular barcode. The new generation barcode scanner comes with the decoder unit installed inside the scanner so that it can also work wirelessly and generate the data on its own before sending it over to a display unit. Here are some barcode scanners that you will frequently come across if you are looking for one.

Pen Type

The pen-type barcode scanners are the most affordable and simple barcode scanners available out there. These are also the most durable barcode scanners as it does not contain any moving parts within its construction. It has a slim and compact body that has a scanner on the front that must be held still in front of the barcode so that it can scan the code with ease.

Although, these are not the fastest barcode scanner as they frequently fail to decrypt the data from the barcode. This requires the user to scan the code multiple times to get the correct information. Sometimes, it needs to be held at a certain angle or moved over the barcode at a certain pace so that it scans the code correctly.


The laser scanner generally operates similar to the pen-type scanners. The only difference is that the laser scanner is stationary and fixated inside the table. It generates a laser that travels away from the device which is achieved by passing it through a prism and a couple of mirrors. The laser beam that reflects from the barcode is registered and generates the information provided by the code.

In the case of laser barcode scanners, the results are generated much faster and accurately as the reader is stationary and there are not any disturbances in its working. The laser which is being emitted by the laser barcode scanner is tuned to a specific frequency and the diode which is collecting the reflecting light is tuned to detect only the similar frequency of the light.

Thus, it does not matter even if the outside light is also entering the reader as it will only register the specific frequency laser.


CCD stands for charged coupled devices. The CCD barcode scanner uses a collection of hundreds of tiny light sensors available within the front portion of the barcode reader. These sensors are placed in a row where each sensor acts as a separate light detector and measures the light emitted exactly in front of it. As there are hundreds of these tiny little sensors available, it manages to decode any barcode within seconds.

A voltage pattern is developed when the emitted light is detected by a certain number of light sensors present in the row. This pattern suggests the pattern of the barcode which is put through the decoding algorithm and thus, the information is generated.

The main difference between a CCD sensor and other commonly used laser-based sensors is that the CCD sensor checks the emitted light whereas other barcode readers measure reflected light. This type of barcode reader is very handy at a checkout point as they provide results quite fast.

Image or Camera

Unlike all other barcode scanners mentioned above, the image or camera-based barcode scanner acts as a video camera instead of a light-based barcode scanner to decrypt the barcode. These scanners capture an image of the barcode that is further analyzed by dedicated software available within the scanner.

The greatest advantage of these types of scanners is that there are no complications in the scanning method. You can hold the product or scanner at any angle and it will still manage to scan the code correctly in the first attempt.

The image or camera-based barcode scanners is simply the most used barcode scanners available to the public yet. The best example of an image-based barcode sensor is the barcode scanner available in digital payment applications. These scanners use your mobile phone’s camera to capture the image of the receiver’s UPI bar code and allows you to transfer the payment securely. Another major advantage of these scanners is that they are completely cordless and do not need to be connected to a computer at all.


Barcodes are one of the most secure ways of storing crucial data on a product so that it is only available to those who are going to scan the barcode using a proper barcode scanner.

Barcodes also allow the manufacturer to put multiple lines of the information under an extremely compact space which would otherwise require a lot of space if printed regularly. Another requirement of barcodes is to provide a separate identity to the product whether it belongs to an individual or a collective organization.

Barcodes can be looked at with naked eyes but it is not possible to decide on a barcode without a proper barcode scanner. Therefore, we have given you detailed information on the most used barcode scanners in the market right now.

Here, you can find different types of barcodes as well as barcode scanners that are capable of decrypting the said barcodes. After going through the article carefully, we can assure you that you can find the best barcode scanner according to your requirement.

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