So the last in this mini series of blogs about Rugged Handheld PDA and Rugged Tablet barcode scanner options.  In the first post we looked at built-in barcode scanner options, in the last post we looked at the Bluetooth option and today we’re looking at using the built-in camera for barcode scanning.

Now first and foremost let’s get this out in the open right now.  Camera based barcode scanners, from a data capture specialist point of view, are pretty poor compared to using any kind of proper barcode scanner tech, including even the budget LED style scanner tech.  Camera’s are not built for barcode scanning, they are ill supported and they can cause lots of issues with your mobile solution, especially if trying to scan 1D barcodes.


There are always some exceptions and things to try so lets cover these off.

Firstly some pitfalls of Camera based barcode scanning

  • They are very slow!  Even the best Android smartphone readers out there would drive you crazy if being used constantly.
  • They can misread.  1D barcodes especially can be mis-read by a standard camera
  • They usually don;t have any dedicated hardware buttons
  • In the Windows Mobile world there are very few things out there that can use the camera to scan.  Android, there are a few better ones and some open source work going on.

The pro’s of using the camera are that you save money on your device and if you’re scanning periodically, lets say 1 scan per site visit, then they can work.  Lets not forget that with a tablet, it might be the only option if you don;t want to try a BT scanner.

Getting the utilities to scan with

Well this is the main issue as most Rugged PDA’s and tablets.  There isn’t actually a utility on the device to barcode scan with.  However Motorola are one of the exceptions to the rule with their Datawedge utility that comes free on all of their kit.  This isn’t too shabby, Motorola would be the first to admit it wasn’t retail standard but it isn’t bad.  We’re told that the new Motorola MC45 has a pretty decent 2D camera based scanner so we’ll try that as soon as we get one.

Android Camera based Barcode Scanners

In Android, it’s a different story as there are a fair few utilities you can use.  You have to be aware of hidden costs as some look free, but aren’t but there is a lot more choice and some of them can work pretty well, almost as well as the Motorola DataWedge utility.

So camera based scanning is an option on some brands.  It’s not really ideal for 1D scanning and it is certainly an inefficient way to scan barcodes but for some we wouldn’t write it off as a solution here.  As always come talk to us and we’ll ensure you get the right kit.

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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