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How to Buy a Bar Code Scanner


The correct bar code scanner can make scanning a joy, whereas the wrong scanner can be miserable. Following these steps will ensure that you select the right scanner.bar code scanner


First, we will need to know all the bar codes that will be scanned. Bar codes are either linear or 2D. The popular linear symbologies are UPC, Code 39, Code 128. The popular 2D symbologies are QR and Datamatrix. A complete list can be found at: Bar Code Symbologies


Next, the technology. There are four types of scanners available:

  • Linear scanner (scan UPC, Code 39, Code 128 and other linear bar codes)
  • 2D scanner (scan QR, Datamatrix and will also scan linear bar codes)
  • Linear long distance scanner
  • 2D long distance scanner


The scanner technologies are either laser scanner or digital imager. The laser scanner was the historical pick but imagers are taking over.


The most common error is not picking the best scanner for the scanning distance. This is the distance between the user's hand and the bar code.

Today's scanners can scan from 1 inch to 50 feet away and there is not a scanner that will cover that entire range...yet.


The next question is what bar codes will the user will be scanning?

Linear bar codes are still the predominant types, but 2D bar codes are becoming more popular. A perfect example of a linear bar code is the UPC bar code that you see on every retail product. In manufacturing and warehousing the most popular bar code types are Code 39 and Code 128.

If you want to scan a 2D bar code, it must be an imager, as laser scanners will not scan a 2D bar code.


The next decision is to pick whether you want a rugged scanner that will absorb bumps and drops or a light duty scanner that will be used in an office, hospital or retail setting.

The next question is the need for mobility. A corded scanner restricts the distance that the user will be moving around to scan the bar code. A cordless scanner enables the user to move around.


So you want a cordless scanner that will scan a 2D bar code from 12 inches away? No problem at all, as there is quite a selection at: Bar Code Scanners


Still not sure? Send us a picture of your bar code to Contact us for more information.