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Best barcode scanner 2021 • 7 barcode scanners Reviews

Barcode scanners are most commonly used by logistics companies, and in shops, warehouses, and offices. However, they have become more popular in homes. With a barcode scanner and the right software, you can now catalog and organize your collection of books, CDs, DVDs, or any other item.

barcode scanner Leaderboard 2021

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Tested Products 7
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Hours Spent 65
Evaluated Studies
Evaluated Studies 470
Considered Reviews
Considered Reviews 690

What is a barcode scanner and how does it work?

A barcode scanner uses a laser to read the bars and spaces that make up a barcode. These devices are usually limited to only being capable of reading this type of information, which they send to a computer via a cable or a wireless connection. It is the computer that actually decodes the reading made by the scanner.

Most of the latest generation of scanners usually offer a USB connection, which is the fastest and most reliable way to transmit data. If this is the case, you will only need to connect it to a USB port of your computer, without the need for any additional drivers. However, many models also include Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which allows you to avoid the hassle of cables.

Radiofrequency (RF) scanners are the most commonly used by logistics companies and in department stores. This is because they do not require the use of a cable and because they offer a much greater range than that of Bluetooth readers. RF scanners are the most highly recommended devices for professional applications. These barcode scanners are usually very durable and designed to withstand daily use.

What types of barcode scanners are there?

These days there are many types of barcode scanners available on the market, which are designed for different uses and with various functions and features. In the following table, we compare the most common types of scanners, from the almost obsolete optical pens to the most powerful industrial scanners. We will compare their uses, functions and connectivity, and portability.

Optical Pen

  • Use type: small business or office
  • Functions: few benefits, difficult to use, fragile, unreliable
  • Connectivity: cable
  • Portability: portable

CCD Reader

  • Use type: supermarkets
  • Functions: reliable, fast, some types require physical contact with the code
  • Connectivity: cable
  • Portability: portable or fixed

Pistol Laser Scanner

  • Use type: industrial, logistics, offices
  • Functions: reliable, resistant, even read codes on irregular surfaces, easy to handle
  • Connectivity: cable, Bluetooth, radiofrequency, Wi-Fi
  • Portability: portable

Omnidirectional Laser Scanner

  • Use type: supermarkets, industrial
  • Functions: reliable, fast, accurate, can scan in any position
  • Connectivity: cable
  • Portability: fixed

Standalone Laser Scanner

  • Use type: industrial, normally for conveyor belts
  • Functions: fast and precise
  • Connectivity: cable
  • Portability: fixed

2D Laser Reader

  • Use type: industrial, logistics, offices
  • Functions: can read 2D codes, which contain much more information
  • Connectivity: cable, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, radiofrequency
  • Portability: fixed or portable

Shopping Criteria for Barcode Scanners

Barcode scanners have become indispensable gadgets for professionals in sectors such as commerce or logistics. In order to find the model that best suits your needs, we have prepared a list of important factors to keep in mind when making your purchase.

  • Cable or wireless connection
  • Types of barcodes
  • Scanner use
  • User conditions
  • Frequency of use

Cable or Wireless Connection

All barcode scanners must be connected to a computer in order to transfer the scanned data. This is done either via a USB cable or wirelessly. Scanners that connect using a USB cable are usually cheaper than wireless models. They are also the most reliable because the data is transferred directly from the scanner to the PC without any interference.

Barcode Scanners can vary from handheld- to desktop-Scanners.

However, wireless barcode scanners are much more convenient to use. Although they can be prone to interference produced by other electronic equipment or due to the presence of walls, the range of wireless scanners is much greater than that of USB models.

Types of Barcodes

Most barcode scanners are capable of reading both linear (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) codes. 1D barcodes are most commonly used for industry, commerce, and logistics. The use of 2D codes, although they can store significantly more information, is not as widespread. This means that many models of scanners cannot read them.

Scanners capable of reading 2D codes are the most popular models these days. This is because these devices are capable of scanning 1D codes no matter the orientation. They also offer faster data reading than scanners that only read linear codes, even on irregular surfaces.

Did you know that the first commercial product with a barcode was not only scanned at Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio, but that the first UPC scanner was installed there as well?

Scanner Use

Before deciding on a certain model of scanner, you really need to think about how you intend to use it. Handheld gun-shaped devices are very useful for stocktaking, taking inventories, and keeping a record of incoming and outgoing goods. Omnidirectional barcode scanners are the most suitable for supermarkets and retail stores, given their efficiency and reliability.

If you are just looking for a scanner to use at home, in your office, or in a small shop, you don’t need to buy a very expensive unit, a moderately priced option will be sufficient. On the other hand, if you are looking for something for intensive professional use, we strongly advise you to invest in a scanner that is specifically designed for this purpose. Although it will be more expensive, it will be much more durable.

Handheld- Scanners are more flexible than Desktop-Scanners.

User Conditions

The conditions under which you plan to use your barcode scanner is a very important factor to keep in mind. Industrial scanners are usually made of shockproof materials and are completely sealed against moisture and dust. Some of the professional models of barcode readers are rubber-coated, not only to make them easier to grip, but also to serve as a cushion to protect against bumps and accidental drops.

Frequency of Use

An industrial barcode scanner is likely to be used much more frequently than one found in a retail store or an office. Industrial models are very sturdy and reliable, capable of scanning at a high speed and at a greater distance than other more moderately priced scanners. They do require a significant economic investment, but this is justified by their efficiency and durability.

If you are simply looking for a barcode scanner to use in a small business, such as a retail store, a model capable of reading 1D and 2D codes with either a fixed or pistol-shaped design will be sufficient. The sales volume will determine the frequency of use and the model of scanner you should buy. If you need something for a larger business, such as a grocery store or small supermarket, an omnidirectional scanner is definitely the way to go.

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FAQs

What barcode formats can barcode scanners read?

EAN/UPC: The most common type of barcode is EAN/UPC. It is found on the packaging of most consumer items since its use is mandatory in retail and food.

Code 39: This format is totally different and uses numbers and letters. It is most widely used for industrial applications.

Code 128: Used by logistics companies, code 128 is more compact than 39, but it does allow the inclusion of a larger number of characters. The code is displayed on crates and boxes used to pack goods for transport.

DUN-14: This is most commonly used for sets of product units, and is characterized by the black frame surrounding the bars.

PDF417: The most commonly used two-dimensional barcode is PDF417. It consists of a rectangle which is formed by a cloud of small squares, each capable of encoding not only alphanumeric data, but also images.

QR code: This is another 2D format that is widely used for advertising campaigns, as it can be easily decoded by most mobile phones using an app.

How can I create barcodes that will be recognized by a scanner?

Making labels of a decent enough quality to be scanned is just as important as investing in a reliable barcode scanner. To generate your own codes you can use Excel or one of several free online programs.

If you are going to use the barcode scanner for professional use, we recommend that you purchase a laser printer or—even better—a label printer. This will mean that you will never have any issues when it comes to reading the data with your scanner. The quality of paper or labels used is also a key factor in avoiding scanning failures.

If you are creating barcodes solely for internal use, you can choose whatever numbering system you want. However, if you need to legally identify your products, you should contact GS1 US, who can provide you with the barcodes you need.

Why is a barcode scanner better than a mobile application?

For several years now, apps for mobile phones that are capable of reading barcodes have become very popular. Many of these apps are free and are able to scan some of the most common codes, including the popular QR, which is widely used in advertising. However, these apps are not suitable for professional use or for scanning a large volume of items.

If you are a professional and you are going to catalog a large number of items, you should consider purchasing a barcode scanner. For a small outlay, you will have a much more efficient, reliable, and durable device than a mobile application. Additionally, these devices can read any of the different types of existing codes, which is something that an app can’t do.

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