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Facts About Barcode Scanners

The most common type barcode scanner sold is the "wedge" or "corded" scanner.

Around 96 percent of all barcodes purchased each year are those that attach to the conmputer or host using a cord. Most commonly used in retail and industrial environments, the corded scanner decodes the barcode, and sends ASCII text down the cord to the computer. The data is transferred to the keyboard buffer, then to the screen where the cursor is flashing. All corded wedge scanners are programmed out of the box to sent a <Carriage Return>< Line Feed> at the end of the text data so the effect on the computer is the same as the operator typing in the number under the barcode, then pressing the <Enter> key.

Good, reliable corded scanners that can scan all common symbology barcodes are currently in the $200 range for one with a 5-year guarantee..

Implementing a barcode system isn't difficult or expensive.

Barcode technology has improved consistenly over the last decade. Barcode scanners of all stripes have decreased in cost. Current pricing of mid-grade retail / industial barcode scanners is in the $200 range for a unit with a stand and 5-year guarante.

In the simplest implementations, the wired barcode scanner is all that's required to begin reaping the increased speed and accuracy of scanning barcodes. In all retail and most industrial environments product barcodes can be found on products shipped in from vendors. Most companies have some sort of comptuer software that required the operator to enter the UPC or SKU number into the system, which a corded scanner can accomplish out of the box without set-up.

All Barcode Scanners are programmable.

Even the simplest and most basic corded barcode scanner is programmable. The programming of the unit is stored in the firmware within the device itself. In most cases, the scanner is programmed by scanning specific set-up barcodes from the manual in a specific order, although most manufacturers now have software tools available to do that part for you - all you have to do is call out the rules that you want the scanner to follow.

Programming options include how the device will perform. On most corded scanners you can set the interface, when the scanner light turns on and off, and the volume and duration of the beep indicating a good read.

Although corded scanner all all programmed out of the box to send a <Carriage Return><Line Feed> as a suffix, you can change the default programming to anything you want. Some desktop software requires the operator to press the <Tab> key after entering the barcode number...the scanner can be programmed to send that key sequence. Some applications require different suffixes and prefixes. Here are some examples of corded scanning programming you might be faced with:

Programming options and variations differ depending on the cost and complexity of the corded scanner. The most inexpensive of corded scanner will have only basic programming options, while more expensive units, like the in-counter grocery scanner will have a plethora of programming options.

By definition, the portable scanners (that aren't wireless wedge) or mobile computers are infinitely programmable. Generally, the scanner part of the device can be programmed with rudimentary rules such as the symbologies allowed and the suffix or prefix desired. Normally, however the scanner portion of the device will be controlled by the application program on the device.

Application programs are programs that perform specific functions on the mobile computer - much like the Microsoft Office suite of programs handle a variety of tasks on the desktop computer. Generally, data collection applications that run on mobile computers with barcode scanners are designed specifically to make the data collection process as fast as possible with as little operator keyed input or other intervention as can be accomplished. Because they're so specific, these programs are created by staff or contracted computer programmers with expertise in program design and coding.

In the past couple of years, there have been some trends developing associated with programming mobile computers with barcode scanners;

Barcode Scanners can read 1-Dimensional and 2-Dimensional barcodes, and even take monochrome pictures.

Barcode scanners were originally designed to read one-dimensional barcodes. These barcodes represent numbers or text as vertical black bars of varying width, separated by a white "gap" of varying width. Generally speaking, Linear Barcodes work well with standard scanners as long as the code is less than 3 inches in width, with a general "density" of 12 characters per inch. Using these general guidlines, the most data that can be comfortably stored in a linear barcode would be around 30 characters, if you're planning on using a standard barcode scanner.

NOTE: The figures above are general estimates, given here in the most simplistic of examples. We've done applications with more than 70 characters in a single linear barcode that is roughly 6" in width...and the code is being read by a standard scanner. But, for safety and planning, if you need to comfortably read more than 30 characters from one code, we recommend you go to a 2-dimensional barcode.

Now we get to the interesting part....2-dimensional barcodes, and their scanners. First, its important to understand that a 2-D barcode is can store around a page of text, but generally that text has to be "parsed" into whatever application that you're using so that it makes sense. A lot of users want to transfer all this data in the 2-dimensional barcode to their computers. Data formatting is easy with a little help - and all 2 dimensional barcode scanners can be programmed to do it.

Don't forget to give us a call if you have a question about facts about barcode scanners you haven't seen here. All our representatives have at least 5 years experience in the technology, and can ask the right questions to help you identify the barcode scanner that will work best for you.