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Find the best Barcode Scanners for your business

Barcode Scanners Buying Guide

What is a Barcode Scanner?

A barcode scanner is primarily used by a cashier to ring up items and scan loyalty/membership cards. You find barcode scanners at most retail stores with checkout counters, including grocery stores, retail stores, coffee shops, or just about anywhere items with barcodes are sold.

  • Honeywell MS7580 Imager Honeywell MS7580 Presentation Imager
  • Honeywell 1200G Laser Scanner Honeywell 1200G Laser Scanner
  • Honeywell 1300G Linear Imager Honeywell 1300G Linear Imager

What Does a Barcode Scanner Do?

  • Scan items – Almost every retail item has a barcode on it. A scanner can be used to read the barcode and put the number into the register.
  • Scan driver's licenses – Most states have barcodes on the back of their driver's licenses. The barcode usually contains the same information as the front – name, license number, weight, eye color, hair color, restrictions, etc. Some barcode scanners are designed to read that code for use in age-verification or customer retention. Liquor stores, for example, can scan a license barcode instead of typing in a date-of-birth.
  • Inventory Mode – Some scanners are designed to help with a physical inventory, or “batch mode” scanning. These scanners have enough memory to store hundreds or thousands of barcodes at a time. A user takes the scanner and scans all of the inventory in a store, then transmits all of the codes into the computer.
  • 1D Barcode - UPC-A

Types of Barcode Scanners

  • Laser Scanners – These scanners use a laser to read printed barcodes. Laser scanners can use a single-line laser, or a spiderweb-like pattern called an “omnidirectional” pattern. A laser line must go across the entire barcode in order to read the code. Laser scanners can only read 1D barcodes (right).
  • Linear Imagers – These scanners use camera technology, i.e. Imaging technology, to take a picture and decode the barcode from the picture. Similar to a laser scanner, the scanning line must span the entire barcode to be read. Linear imagers can only read 1D barcodes.
  • Area Imagers – These also use camera technology to take a picture of the barcode to read it. Area imagers, i.e. 2D imagers, can also read 2D barcodes, such as shipping barcodes or QR codes (right). Also, some scanners can read the barcode on a driver's license in most states.
  • Single-line Laser
  • Omnidirectional Laser
  • 2D Barcode - QR Code

Common Barcode Scanner Features

  • 1D vs. 2D scanning – Laser scanners and linear imagers can only read 1D barcodes (with the black and white lines). Area images can read both 1D and 2D barcodes (dots or squares in a grid).
  • Single-line laser vs. Omnidirectional laser – Single-line lasers only put out a single laser line to scan. You usually find single-line scanners in libraries or small retail stores. Omnidirectional scanners put out a spiderweb-like pattern so that the barcode scan be scanned from almost any angle. Omnidirectionals are often found in locations such as in  gas stations, convenience stores, and grocery stores.
  • Cordless Scanners – Some scanners come in desktop (wired) as well as cordless versions. Often cordless versions contain the same scan engine, but use BlueTooth or radio-frequency to talk to a base station. The base station, or “cradle”, would be connected to the computer, while the scanner itself is cordless. Some cordless scanners also contain inventory or batch mode, allowing the scanner to save barcodes and send them to the computer all at once.
  • Shape, Size, and Color – Barcode scanners come in a wide variety of styles. Gun-shaped scanners are always popular with retail cashiers, but gas stations prefer a presentation-style scanner where you hold the code up to the scanner, rather than move the scanner to the code. Some scanners also come in a choice of colors, such as black vs. white, to help match the aesthetics of a system.
  • Honeywell MS7120 Orbit Omnidirectional LaserHoneywell MS7120 Orbit Omnidirectional Laser

Common Barcode Scanners

  • Honeywell
  • “Voyager” 1200G-series – Honeywell's single-line laser scanners. Comes in a standard wired version (1200G), a cordless version (1202G), and a gun-shaped version (1250G, wired). Replaces the older MS9500-series scanners. Pictured on page 1.
  • MS3780 and MS7120 – Honeywell's omnidirectional-laser scanners. The MS3780 “Fusion” is the hand-held version, the MS7120 “Orbit” is a presentation-style scanner. Only available in desktop (wired) versions.
  • 1300G – Honeywell's latest linear imager. Only available in desktop (wired) version. Replaces the older 3800G-series scanners. Pictured on page 1.
  • 1900G – Area imager and Honeywell's premium scanner offering. Wired and wireless versions available. Also available with EZ-DL driver's license reading at additional cost.
  • Datalogic
  • QuickScan-series – Datalogic's main “economy” scanner line. Several models of Quickscan are available, including a wired linear imager (QD2100), cordless linear imager (QM2100), and wired laser scanner (QD2300).
  • Gryphon 4100 – Series of linear imagers. Several models available, including standard wired (GD4100), BlueTooth or radio-frequency cordless (GBT4100 and GM4100, resp.), and healthcare-ready (GD4100-HC) versions.
  • Gryphon 4400 – Series of area imagers. Standard wired model (GD4400) is also available with a permanently-attached base (GD440-B) or healthcare-ready plastic (GD440-HC). Also available in BlueTooth or radio-frequency cordless versions (GBT4400 and GM4400, resp.) with optional healthcare-ready plastic.
  • Motorola
  • LS2208 – Motorola's venerable, gun-shaped, single-line laser scanner, considered Motorola's workhorse scanner. Available in standard wired version only.
  • DS4208 – New gun-shaped area imager from Motorola, considered an “economy” area imager. Wired version only, cannot read driver's licenses.
  • DS9208 – A presentation-style area imager from Motorola. Only wired version available, cannot read driver's licenses.
  • DS6878 – Cordless, gun-shaped area imager. Also available with driver's license reading at additional cost.
  • Datalogic GD4400-HC with disinfectant-ready plastic Datalogic GD4400-HC with disinfectant-ready plastic
  • Datalogic GM4400 area imager with optional display Datalogic GM4400 area imager with optional display
  • Motorola DS9208 presentation-style area imager Motorola DS9208 presentation-style area imager