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Making the Right Investment: Wired vs. Wireless Barcode Scanners

Making the Right Investment: Wired vs. Wireless Barcode Scanners

Differences and advantages of wired vs. wireless barcode scanners.

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Barcode technology offers many benefits to retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and other industries. For example, they enable more accurate inventory management, real-time visibility into products and stock, and more efficient checkout processes. However, businesses need the proper hardware, including a choice between a wired or wireless barcode scanner, to get the most value from their barcode solutions. 

What Wired and Wireless Barcode Scanners Have in Common

Some hardware features can apply to both types of barcode scanners. For example, you can find wired and wireless versions of laser scanners or imagers designed to read 1D barcodes (UPC-style codes) or 2D scanners capable of scanning 1D and QR codes. 

You will also find wired and wireless barcode scanners with different ingress protection (IP) ratings. These two-number ratings communicate the degree to which a device is resistant to dust or liquid infiltration damage. For example, an IP rating of 42 means the device is protected from damage caused by infiltration of a 1 mm solid (the first number “4”) and from drops of water (the second number “2”).

Woman ringing up groceries with wireless barcode scanner by Star Micronics.

A variety of different scanner form factors are also available. You can choose a handheld scanner, a presentation scanner that sits on a counter, a fixed-mount scanner, or an in-counter scanner. The choice of form factor depends on how you’ll use the scanner, such as scanning groceries at a checkout counter or scanning shelf tags during an inventory count. However, you’ll also need to consider where you’ll use the scanner. 

The following comparison of wired and wireless barcode scanners will help you make the right choice based on the how and where of your application and other essential factors for your business.

Advantages of Wired Barcode Scanners

Wired barcode scanners are ideal when scanning in a fixed location, such as a checkout counter or a back-of-house workstation. Handheld and fixed-mount barcode scanners with wired connectivity are reliable and support fast data transmission – you don’t have to be concerned with interference from other devices. Wired barcode scanners are usually plug-and-play, so they’re easy to set up and begin using quickly. 

Wired scanners are also usually lower priced than wireless barcode scanners. In addition, they don’t require battery replacements, which also helps lower their total cost of ownership (TCO). 

Depending on the model you choose, the scanner can deliver fast, accurate scanning of 1D and 2D barcodes on paper, uneven packaging, and even screens covered with protective film. For example, Star’s BSH-HR2081 1D/2D handheld barcode scanner can be used as a presentation scanner on a counter and as a handheld. This scanner gives you the advantage of a large field of view, onscreen barcode capture, and an infrared sensor for speed and productivity, even in dark environments

Advantages of Wireless Barcode Scanners

Barcode scanning typically requires you to take the product to the scanner, not the other way around. Wireless barcode scanners free you from cords and cables that limit movement and allow you to use presentation or fixed-mount scanning when wired connectivity isn’t available. 

Leading wireless barcode scanners have a long battery life with up to 12 hours of continuous use and offer reliable wireless data transmission. Star’s wireless barcode scanners, such as the BSH-HR2081BT, are also easy to move between locations and have plug-and-play setup with any point-of-sale (POS) software.

Simply connect via Bluetooth or the included USB dongle, and the scanner immediately works – no need to download any additional drivers. Star’s wireless scanners also have six scanning modes for convenience and capture images on paper, uneven media, and onscreen.

Woman scans inventory with wireless barcode scanner by Star Micronics.

Wireless scanners add flexibility to operations, allowing you to quickly accommodate changes in workflow, like when consumer behaviors shift to curbside pickup. They’re ideal for inventory management, stock takes, and cycle counts, enabling employees to capture data instantly and accurately.

Wireless barcode scanners are also easily scalable. If you need to equip extra employees, you can add more scanners without altering your business infrastructure. 

3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Wired and Wireless Barcode Scanners

Overall, your choice between wired and wireless barcode scanners comes down to the following:

1. Workflow Requirements

Consider whether employees work at a checkout counter, stationary workstation, or need mobility. Also, don’t forget to take ergonomics into account. Repeatedly using a handheld might lead to fatigue and injury, whereas a wired fixed-mount scanner could prevent those issues. 

Additionally, ensure the model has the power to provide the speed necessary to keep up with the scanning volume employees need to do their jobs efficiently.

2. Budget

Consider both upfront costs and TCO, including batteries for wireless scanners and ongoing maintenance costs. Remember to review the warranty to ensure you get the most out of your investment

3. Environmental Considerations

Determine where employees will use the scanner. A wireless barcode scanner may be the only choice if a wired connection isn’t possible. If a wired connection is possible, you may want to consider whether interference from other devices could diminish a wireless scanner’s performance. In that case, go with a wired barcode scanner.

The Ultimate Guide to Barcode Scanner Types and Applications

Navigate the world of barcodes with clarity and confidence, ensuring the right fit for your business needs.

Make an Informed Choice

Both wired and wireless barcode scanners have pros and cons, but when you consider workflow requirements, budget, and environmental factors, you’ll make the optimal choice for your application. 

You can also contact your barcode technology solution provider to find the best scanner for your business. For example, antimicrobial scanners are available for companies in the healthcare industry, while rugged scanners are for more industrial or outdoor settings

Find the right wired or wireless barcode scanner for your application:

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