Rugged PDA and Tablet Barcode Scanner Options

So this week we’re going back to our roots by talking about barcode scanning on Rugged Handhelds and Rugged Tablets.  We’re going to cover off in a 3 part series all the options you have if you need a mobile barcode solution that also scans barcodes.

Today we’ll look at built-in barcode scanning options on Rugged PDA’s and Rugged Tablets, guiding you through the main options and things to look out for as you chose your device.

1. Check the Barcode Scanner types the Rugged PDA has

There are some PDA’s that still only have a 1D laser scanner option so you’ll only ever be able to scan 1D barcodes and not the emerging 2D ones.  Some like the Motorola MC65/65 series only have a 2D imager and despite the fact it’s an excellent piece of kit it of course adds to the price, especially for those who only really want to scan barcodes, or without barcode scanning needs at all.

2. Check the Barcode scanner options available

This can vary lots depending on the manufacturer, for instance in Motorola and Pidion devices they tend to have a barcode scanner option of 1D or 2D but they don;t have the option of having none!  This can seriously impact the price of the device if you don;t need scanning at all or want a bluetooth option instead.  Brands like Dotel allow you to freely configure the barcode scanner option from “none” to 1D laser, to 2D imager and even RFID options.

3. Barcode Scanner Core Hardware

Check the scanner hardware brand.  If you don’t know then ask your reseller about it.  Many devices OEM Motorola and Honeywell scanner technology into their kit because it’s very good but many use unbranded or lesser quality scanner modules that are not only as good as the main brands but also harder to get any help or assistance on.

Also check the scanner type.  Laser scanners are no longer the king of efficiency and speed with many LED based imagers now better.  Imagers are more rugged as they don;t have any moving parts and also have more budget options in some devices keeping your costs down if you’re never going to need aggressive scanning capabilities. Intermec and Baracoda are good examples of manufacturers who supply cheaper “Imager” options of their scanner technologies giving the customers choice.

4. Fuzzy Firmware!

So you might have the Motorola SE950 laser scanner in your device, but does it work properly?  Buy a Motorola or Intermec and this is the guarantee you tend to get with superb, mature scanner software built in to their devices, meaning your up and running with little or no learning curve.  Pidion, for example, have the same scanner tech, but the firmware is simply not up to the same standard.  Also how much you can configure and tweak your scanner can be the difference between a smooth running mobile solution and a nightmare so always check them out first, ask your reseller for video’s or the manual if you’re not buying enough for a loan device or get hold of loan kit!

5. Specialist Barcode Scanning

If I have a £1 for every person that came to me not knowing that there’s a specialised barcode scanning technology for their needs, i’d be a rich man!  If you need to read barcodes form a distance, and I mean feet/yards, not inches, then there are specific RUgged PDA’s that will meet your needs.  Likewise if you need to read tiny, compressed barcodes then there are High Density scanner options in some devices that will meet your needs.  It’s not just about 1D or 2D barcodes, there’s a lot of scanners around these days that can do more specialised scanning for you.

6. SDK Support

Like (4) above, a barcode scanner is no good if programmers can’t get to it or understand how to get to it in their code.  If the Device has a good Barcode Scanner SDK then it’ll be easy to sew it into the workflow of your mobile application.  If not then it can make life a lot harder.  My advice would be to again test before you buy.

7. Get the right advice, build the relationship you need

Always, always find a reseller that can advise and guide you through your Rugged PDA or Rugged Tablet scanner options.  For the sake of a few quid today, you’ll save thousands in improved efficiency and happier users for the years ahead!

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the Bluetooth Scanner Options.  Why you’d go for them and what the pros and cons are

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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