OK, so a quick post today which is all about those yellow and black rugged barcode scanners.

There’s a conundrum in the barcode scanning market where people feel that rugged scanners are great, however most barcode scanners, especially CCD ones, are inherently droppable and as such most come with a drop spec of some nature, with all but the cheapest scanners usually lasting more than long enough to make them great value for money.

So why use a rugged scanner at all?  Well there are some obvious areas you would need a fully rugged Barcode scanner and we’ll point out some of them right here for you.


Water and Dust – Despite being droppable, most barcode scanners are still not resistant to Dust and water penetration unless they’re fully rugged.  If you’re going to be using the scanners outside, or in a dusty environment then rugged might just be the answer.

Dropability – Rugged Barcode scanners are definitely tougher when it comes to dropping them, you only have to pick one up to see just how much better built they are.

Rugged by Design – As with RUgged PDA’s, the spec sheet isn’t the whole story.  Rugged Barcode Readers are also far more rugged by design.  They have recessed scan windows that are less prone to breaking, tough, grippy cases, usually have some metal about them and they are also yellow in colour so they’re less loosable!

Scanner Types – If you’re looking for specialist scanning engines then rugged scanners are often the only types that have this.  Extended range, High Density, Fuzzy logic are all technology’s that are largely found in more rugged barcode scanners and not the standard ones.

Cold and Heat – Mostly about the cold, rugged scanners can usually be used at lower temperatures and where the temperature is super low like in a cold freezer, they come with the accessories you need to function, like heated holders.

Wireless – Anything wireless tends to need to be a bit more rugged.  they can be dropped from higher, lost, left anywhere and so if you’re going wireless, consider that you might just need something a bit tougher.

So there’s still plenty to think about if your scenario might need something a bit tougher.  The downsides of rugged scanners are that they can be hellishly expensive and the sheer fact that you can replace them 5 or 6 times over with a decent non-rugged scanner gives you the choice to take a non-rugged with on the shelf replacement strategy too, but as you can see from above there are certainly scenarios that will still demand something more rugged.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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2 Responses

  1. Rach

    Great series of posts, these have helped me loads. I never knew there were so many things to watch out for. I’m not sure about the rugged scanner though, when we looked at these they were like $500+ each.

    We use $50 scanners and they’re just as good. Why would you use this tech over cheaper ones?

    • ruggedandmobile

      Hi Rach

      You have hit a very hot debate there and in all walks of business and life you see the 2 strategies deployed, buy 1 expensive thing that is well serviced in case it goes wrong, or indeed doesn;t go wrong in the first place OR just buy cheap and a lot of them and tweak your strategy so that you can quickly replace. The differences are subtle for each business.

      Lets think about this for a moment. Doesn’t Microsoft adopt the Cheaper, redundancy apparoach with its servers in the face of older more expensive HPUX ones? So it is a val;id strategy to buy cheap and replace. We have seen companies buy cheap and come a cropper, perhaps more with complex devices like RUgged PDA’s rather than Scanners, however we have seen many businesses buy cheap kit, educate their user correctly, put in place redundancy and replacement measures that work and they have been very successful.

      If you wanta perosnal view on this, I think rugged scanners are now really only bought where water/weather resistance is needed, particularly low temperatures or some kind of niche area where non-rugged barcode scanners would literally fail every 5 minutes.