Handheld Barcode Scanners can be divided into a few categories:
- Laser corded handheld scanners
- Laser cordless handheld scanners
- CCD or Linear Imaging corded scanners
- CCD or Linear Imaging cordless scanners
- Area Imaging 2D corded handheld scanners
- Area Imaging 2D cordless handheld scanners
Apart from the above categories handheld barcode scanners can be further divided into Commercial and Industrial use scanners. The industrial scanners have been designed and built to take more punishment than the counterparts.
Some history of the different types of handheld barcode scanners.
The first scanners that appeared where known as the Pen or Wand type scanners. The small scanning window was “swiped” across the barcode to read and transmit the data.
Next to come along were the CCD or Charge Coupled Device units. The scanning window had to almost be put against the barcode to read. This was quite an improvement on the Pen type scanners.
Laser scanners were the next to come along. They offered a significant increased depth of field or distance that the scanner could be held away from the barcode. These units used a laser diode that shot a beam against an oscillating mirror. This resulted in a thin scan line that read the barcode. The disadvantage of the laser type scanners was the oscillating mirror that would be damaged when the scanner was dropped.
The CCD scanners were improved and became known as Linear Imaging scanners. They offered a huge increase in the depth of field or scanning distance that the unit is held away from the barcode. This technology is still used in the majority of 1D handheld barcode scanners. The advantage of Linear Imaging scanners is that there are no moving parts inside making it less prone to breaking when dropped.
The newest scanning technology is the Area Imaging 2D type. The scanners read all the popular 2D and QR codes as well as 1D barcodes. These scanners essentially take a snap shot of the barcode like a camera and then decode and transmit the scanned data. They are significantly more expensive than the 1D Linear Imaging scanners.
Corded Handheld Barcode Scanners.
Corded scanners use a cable to directly plug into a PC, Cash Register or some other type of terminal.
These scanners mainly use three methods to connect and come with the corresponding cable when purchased. These connection methods are commonly known as the Interfaces and they are Serial (RS232), Keyboard Wedge (KBW) and USB.
This is the oldest method that was used to connect the scanners to a PC but it is still used for some terminals and machines. The supplied cable with a 9 or 25 pin connector that connects to a Serial port. In most cases an external Power Supply is used to supply the unit with power.
Keyboard Wedge Interface
The cable that is supplied with KBW scanners splits into two PS2 connectors. One connector plugs into the PC’s keyboard port and the other into the keyboards connector. The scanner and keyboard can both work and the scanned data is placed wherever the cursor is placed on the screen. The KBW interface is still widely used but not as much as USB.
The majority of scanners sold today are USB. The scanner plugs into an open USB port where it is detected and installed. The scanned data is placed where the cursor is on the screen.
Cordless Handheld Barcode Scanners
Cordless scanners have no physical cable attaching them to a host but rather use a radio frequency to connect to their base station which is connected to the PC via a cable.
The cordless scanners that use Bluetooth can connect directly to another Bluetooth enabled device and just use the base station to charge their battery.
The range between these scanners and base stations vary from model to model and can be from 10 meters to 100 meters.
Just as in the corded scanners, the base stations can connect to a PC or some other terminal with either Serial (RS232), Keyboard Wedge (KBW) or USB.
The cordless scanners are also available in either Laser, Linear Imaging or Area Imaging 2D technologies.
Cordless handheld barcode scanners are ideal for applications where the items with the barcodes that need to scanned can’t be brought to the scanner – the scanner can be taken to the items.
Many of the models have a memory that can hold scanned barcode data when the unit is out of range of its base station. When the scanner gets back in range it will transmit the stored data to the host.
If you have any questions or require more information – please feel free to contact me.