5 questions before buying a scanner

Ask yourself these 5 questions before you buy a barcode scanner

Yes, there are many of them, in the form of guns, with curved heads or integrated into square covers: Barcode scanners for capturing 1-dimensional (EAN13, Interleaved, Codes 39 etc.) or/and 2-dimensional (QR, Datamatrix etc.) codes.

It is often tempting to choose this tool for decoding digital information because of its appearance, housing or price. We would like to give you a few questions to help you find the best scanner for your application.


1. What is to be scanned?

The goods to be scanned often have labels attached, the code is directly attached or is a shelf or packaging unit to be scanned?

Depending on the printing method, the barcode quality is decisive for positive reading success. This is because with so-called "direct part marking" the code is printed directly onto the product, sprayed (inkjet), dot peened or milled in via laser.

The contrast then determines how high-quality the reader has to be.

2. Which barcode do I actually want to read?

It is crucial to know what codes you want to read today, but also important to consider what technology you may need to read in the next few years.

1D barcodes are the most common codes today, but 2D codes are increasing at a rapid rate and so it is necessary to look at future proofing. Often the slightly higher purchase price in 2D technologies is worth it, as most scanners come with a 5-year warranty, giving you 5 years of investment protection.

3. What scanning performance do I need?

In general, the following rule applies: the poorer the barcode quality, the more scans the scanner should deliver within one second in order to achieve a good reading result in the same time. For example, yellowed labels on thermal paper can be read much more poorly than those with a clear black-on-white print image.

The scanner measures the distances between the black and white edges (bars) and calculates the result. The more it sees, the faster the positive result is available.

Camera scanners (imagers) often do this job with up to 480 scans/sec. and have therefore almost replaced the classic laser beam scanners in recent years.

Longrange Scan

4. What distance is necessary for a positive scan result?

From touch scanners to long-range engines, there is a wide range of different scanner types. If you need to read barcodes from lists, it is recommended to use a touch device as this ensures a clear, correct selection of the correct code.

Devices with crosshairs or laser dots are also good for correct targeting. After all, you want to hit the desired code. As a general rule, the greater the distance to the code, the larger the barcode must be. Get advice on this, so that code and scanner become an unbeatable double.

5. Do I want to work wired or wireless?

Cordless scanners are often requested because the operation is carried out a few metres away from the table, but after each scan it is necessary to look at the screen to check that the correct scan field has been entered. Or because it seems practical to be able to get off the stacker with the wireless device.

Beware, because here lurks an error trap! In such cases, it is worth investing in devices that not only scan but also have a small keyboard or display on the device.

In the case of cable-connected scanners, a further distinction is made between a handle device (often with a pistol-grip design) and a table device (for use at POS tables or for installation in machines).