Pros and Cons for Each Type of Barcode Scanner

Scanning barcodes can greatly improve the speed and accuracy of data entry when compared to manually entering data. The following are the most common barcode scanning options, including Pros and Cons for each barcode scanner.

1 – Android OS Touch Computers.  The mobile computers offered by companies such as Zebra, Honeywell, DataLogic, etc. generally include special barcode “Imager” hardware for scanning 1D (linear) and 2D barcodes. The imager would scan the barcode directly into the form fields of native and web apps.

Pros: They offer fast, accurate scanning with an aimer. They can scan barcodes at greater distances than cameras. They have larger batteries and are less likely to be stolen than a provisioned smartphone or tablet.

Cons: They must be physically deployed to the workforce. Mobile device management tools are generally required. They don’t include all the features of the latest consumer smartphones. The Android OS may not be easily upgraded.

2 – USB and Bluetooth Barcode Scanning Accessories. They often have the same or similar Imagers that the Android OS Touch Computers have. In the keyboard emulation mode, they can scan barcode data into the native and web form fields of connected/paired iOS and Android OS smartphones and tablets.

Pros: Generally they offer the benefits are the same as Android OS Touch Computers. However, the scanning speed and accuracy can be quite poor with inexpensive models, so it’s best to avoid low-end devices unless they have good user reviews. The cost is moderate, even for the better models; however, you need to also consider the cost of the data receiving devices, i.e. the smartphone or tablet.

Cons: Generally they have the same issues as Android OS touch computers. The biggest issue is typically they can be awkward to use in the field since the app-user must handle two devices – the accessory and the connected device. The good news is that the connected device can use the latest smartphone technology and over the years be replaced with later models.

3 – Barcode Scanning Sleds. iOS and Android OS smartphones and tablets slide into these ‘sleds’ which provide Imagers,  protective housings and integrated batteries. Sleds are offered by Honeywell (Captuvo), Cognex and Infinite Peripherals (Linea Pro).

Pros: Generally the benefits are the same as for Android OS Touch Computers, though with the added benefit to select the smartphone you want and upgrade or replace it as needed.

Cons: Generally they have the same issues as Android Touch Computers and barcode scanning accessories, but when using a sled you eliminate the awkward handling issue of scanning accessories because the devices are physically connected to become a single, handheld unit. Also important to consider is you need to provide both the sled and the smartphone to your workforce.

4 – Smartphone and Tablet Cameras. Apple and Android OS device manufacturers are constantly innovating so these devices can offer the latest technology for AIDC applications.

Also, enterprise-grade iOS and Android OS apps for scanning barcodes can equal and even exceed the performance of dedicated Imagers.

Pros: “Bring Your Own Device” (BOYD) savings can be huge in terms of hardware costs and device management overhead. This is especially true for applications involving subcontractors and when barcode scanning is only needed periodically.

Cons: When provisioning these devices (i.e. not using the BYOD method), you need to consider the real device cost not only in terms of the purchase price but also the replacement cost if damaged. Also, most smartphones can scan 1000s of barcodes on a single charge. But if the app-user needs to scan all day long, a battery pack accessory with housing might be required if the device can’t be periodically charged.

5 – Webcam vs Accessory on PCs, Macs, and Chromebooks. On many devices, the webcams are quite poor and don’t include auto-focus. However, you can generally use a Bluetooth or USB barcode scanning accessory.

Pros: If the intended application doesn’t require mobility and one or more of these devices are already at the point of service, then it can be convenient to use them.

Cons: An Android Emulator needs to be installed on the device to download or side load (APK) an Android app. The devices are not mobile and the camera’s often not ideal for scanning complex barcodes.

The enterprise-grade codeREADr app for iOS and Android OS devices will work with all of these options. For further information please contact