Choosing the Best Barcode Scanner for Your Needs 1

How to know what is the best barcode scanner for your business

The scanning technology is witnessing lot of changes these days. The scan engines like linear imagers and 2D imagers have replaced the old fashioned laser scan engines due to the performance factors. The tertiary devices can also use the latest scan engines for linkages.

But, amongst the prevalent scanning technologies, it is difficult to decide which technology is the better? Some vote for laser scan engines while other prefers imaging scan engines on account of versatility, results and efficiency.

Although, the scanning requirements vary according to the job, but following guide can assist in the selection of suitable scanner.

Linear Imagers

The linear imagers are based on the charge coupled device (CCD) technology. The CCD is the main component in the linear imager, which actually transforms the light reflected from the bar and spaces into the video signal.

Based on the self light source, linear imagers comprise of light emitting diodes (LEDs) that help the scanner with light requirements under varied conditions and assist in the poser saving also.

Linear imagers are basically a solid state device and hence more dependable than the laser scanners. The scanning mechanism of a linear scanner uses the CCD for image formation as the light is reflected from the source to the CCD while the LEDs illuminate the scene internally. In the barcode scanning, the peaks and troughs of the signal are found and decoding algorithm is used to get the barcode data. The analog to digital converter and the associated software executes the task for full image formation.

The new technologists have improved upon the scanning algorithms and induced certain new routines for advanced scanning of the data at a much faster speed with high level of reliability. This way the linear imagers can scan the cheap and laminated barcodes easily.

Laser Scanners

The laser scanners use a technology that utilizes the laser beam. This laser beam scans the barcode with the help of oscillating mirrors that help pass the beam to and fro the barcode. Depending upon the scanning requirement, different types of laser scanners are available in the market. The best part about laser scanners is that they can scan from a distance also. These scanners have good scan range and can read data from 35 feet away.

The laser can be attached to the small beams. In the different scan ranges, the beams would cover broad and slender bars of the barcode.

The main issue is that the laser scanners are costlier than the linear imagers. With the passage of time, the laser scanners demand high maintenance, particularly with respect to the oscillating mirror. The quality of scanning also starts deteriorating after some time. The eyes can also get affected due to the laser beams emitting out of these scanners.

The laser and linear imagers are portable as well as static models. The handheld ones operate at a scan speed of 35-300 times per second. The static models have scan speed of 600-1800 times per second to quickly read the item before crossing the scanning area.

Factors to be considered for selecting a scanner

If the requirement is to read the linear barcodes, both of the scanning technologies mentioned above are suitable. The scanner should be selected based on certain factors such as scan range, condition of barcode, work environment, performance desired and expenditure.


If the scan range is less than 18 inches, then the linear imagers are better. The laser based scanners are employed for high scan ranges.

Types of barcodes

The advanced in scanning technology has enabled the scanners to scan the general group of barcode symbols, including the EAN/UPC, code 39 and code 128. The latest linear imagers can even scan in the areas of higher code densities for x-dimension between 2 and 5 mil and for X-dimensions between 10 and 20 mil with code widths up to 8 inches of these barcodes.

State of barcode

If the source barcode is of poor quality, faded, laminated or diffused, the linear imagers would be able to scan it as well. This is primarily due to the scanning technology that they employ and due to the high scan rate engines.

Working environment

Keeping in view the working environment, the linear imagers perform better. The solid state device architecture and manufacturing quality makes them suitable for worst case scenario also. The durability and reliability of operation of linear imager is far better than the lased scanners.

Barcodes from computer screen

Linear imagers are suitable when you have to setup many devices with barcodes. A serial scanning of the barcodes can be done rather than taking printouts.


The performance parameters also play a vital role in judging the scanners. The linear imager performs very neatly and yield bright results within its scanning range. Generally, the scan rate is 100 times/second but some high performance scanners do offer 800 times/second.

For scanning barcode from the flat surface, the linear imagers with short range are also suitable. For curved surfaces, the scanners with long-range capabilities are counted good. Some specifications describe scan ranges from 2 inches to 18 inches.

There is a correlation between the scan lines and scan ranges. The laser scanners and linear imager yield varied results according to these parameters.

Other Scanning Technologies

APS CMOS Sensors

In the latest linear imagers, the CCD sensors are substituted by the active pixel CMOS sensors due to the technological advancement. In the APS CMOS sensor, the digital signal machine and the light detector is programmed on the single ASIC.

The main advantages of this type of linear imagers are less power consumption, reliability and smaller size of the device.

2D Image Readers

These devices are two-dimensional or linear barcode scanners and employ the fast decode algorithms to process the scanning work. The provision of omni-directional scanning for linear barcode is also present. CCD or intelligent CMOS technology can be incorporated in a 2D imager. The benefit of CMOS technology is that it consumes very less power and produces excellent scan results.


In this technology, there is no requirement of line-of-sight scanning. The RFID technique employs a chip that includes an ASIC. The ASIC stores information about the product and can be served as a slave to the master RFID reader for fetching the stored information. The RFID technology takes less power for operation.

The barcodes can be complimented with the RFID technology as the later provides many flexible and secure operations.

With the huge variety of scanners available on the market today, people often become confused as to which option is best for them, in many cases people just want a simple scanner that works and will not cause any integration issues, for this reason one scanner in particular has become popular the world over, the Symbol LS2208 barcode scanner, is cheap, last lasting and perfect for a host of different application, but best of all it is so simple to use, this scanner is truly plug and play.


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