Using a handheld scanner eliminates human error and speeds up processes, which ultimately has a positive impact on productivity. The scanner also ensures that costs are reduced. Finally, administrative requirements are reduced and paper consumption can be limited. A barcode scanner thus has countless advantages for warehouses, industry and trade.

What is a handheld scanner?

A handheld scanner or barcode scanner is a device in the form of a (often) wireless terminal for reading 1D or 2D codes. This mobile scanner is used in the industrial environment for automated data collection. Compared to the handheld scanner integrated in the POS system, a mobile scanner or wireless handheld scanner is operated by hand. This makes it possible to scan unwieldy objects or a product with oversized dimensions.  It also gives employees more freedom of movement, allowing them to complete tasks faster and more effectively.

In addition, the devices must be characterized by certain criteria in order to withstand a handheld scanner test. For example, the scanners should be resistant to high temperatures, have an appropriate protection class and be extremely robust. Since the barcodes are not always readable, scans should be possible even under difficult conditions.

How does the handheld barcode scanner work?

A handheld scanner can only do its job if two conditions are met:

  • connection to the company's management system
  • complete labelling of the goods

The management system is usually designed for the logistical context in order to provide the required functionalities. A connection between the management programme and the hand-held scanner is often established via WLAN or Bluetooth. In the meantime, however, there are already manufacturers whose devices operate with 3G, 4G and soon probably also 5G. This makes it possible to work outdoors.

Once the initial conditions are met, scanning can begin. It is important that the label on the product has a readable code. This can be a barcode, QR or BIDI code. Another identification option is the RFID system. With this variant, there does not have to be a line of sight between the label and the barcode scanner, which can prove very practical in everyday working life.

Once the data has been captured - regardless of the type of scan - the instructions on the scanner's screen must be followed. The individual processes must be confirmed manually.

The transfer of data takes place in real time, which means that the management system is always kept up to date. One therefore speaks of a permanent inventory. The history is stored on the micro SD card.

Different types of handheld scanners

Nowadays, a variety of handheld scanners are available on the market. The different types are characterised by different performance. But the more performance you want, the higher the price.

In recent years, handheld scanners have undergone extensive modernisation. For example, there are now two categories of devices: floor-standing devices, which are anchored in fixed stations, and wireless scanners, which offer more flexibility and freedom of movement.

Some manufacturers' offerings include special features. These include, for example, touch screen, integration of an SD card, USB connection or voice recognition technology.

In addition, 1D and 2D scanners are also differentiated. The 1D handheld scanner specialises in scanning classic linear barcodes. These are usually found on product packaging and are also used in the food industry. The 2D scanner, on the other hand, hits the nerve of the times and is able to read two-dimensional codes. For example, admission tickets or public documents in DIN A4 format are often provided with QR codes. 

A further distinction is made on the basis of the operating system. Android and Windows are the most common and are produced by well-known manufacturers such as Datalogic, Honeywell or Zebra.

What technologies are there?

The handheld scanners make use of different technologies. These include:

  • CCD sensor
    This type of scanner is based on CCD technology. The barcode is illuminated by LED light and then reflected. With the help of a decoder, the bars and distances of the code are analysed and deciphered. The decoder forwards the results to the output device. The fast detection and high resolution of CCD scanners make them particularly popular, but unfortunately they only have a range of 50 cm. In addition, QR codes cannot be deciphered.

  • Laser scanners
    As the name suggests, laser scanners use laser beams. These capture the barcode thanks to the different reflective strengths of the dark and light stripes. The photodiode finally transforms the reflection into electrical signals and creates a comprehensive evaluation. Poor lighting conditions do not affect the functionality of the laser scanner and the range of the hand-held scanner is also considerable - this makes guidance easier. But like the CCD sensor, the laser beams only read one-dimensional barcodes.

  • Camera or imager technology
  • The last technology uses a compact camera. The image of the code is analysed and decoded. 1D, 2D codes - the camera decodes all types of codes. Those who opt for such a hand-held scanner must prepare themselves for high bills, because the technology is not cheap. In fact, even smartphones are now capable of deciphering two-dimensional codes. Many online shops therefore go easy on the bank account and work with smartphones and the corresponding app to register stocks and sort products.

Data transmission by radio or cable?
Data transmission for hand-held scanners is via radio or cable. Wired transmission can be done via USB or a keyboard interface, for example. This is the optimal solution for working at the computer or at the packing station. However, the connection with a spiral or smooth cable can limit the work considerably.
Wireless data transmission uses WLAN, narrowband radio or Bluetooth and has great advantages. Ultimately, however, the choice should depend on the environment.

Where can you use a handheld scanner?

The areas of application of the hand-held scanner are versatile.

Retail and office
The hand-held scanner is a particularly helpful tool in the retail trade. The goods can be scanned quickly and reliably and relieves the employees in their daily work. However, a barcode scanner is also useful in the office. For example, the OCR software can help transfer invoices into the ERP system.

In the healthcare sector, handheld scanners are suitable for managing patient data. Pharmacies, laboratories and hospitals use the devices to monitor the administration of medication to patients. It is important that the scanners are easy to clean and resistant to disinfectants.

Logistics and production
Work in the warehouse benefits enormously from the use of handheld scanners. Goods receipt and stocktaking can be better controlled and processes are accelerated. When choosing the device, make sure that the hand scanners are very resistant and insensitive.

What should be considered when purchasing?

As more and more companies specialise in the production and distribution of handheld scanners, it is often difficult to choose the right manufacturer. The following purchasing criteria can be used to narrow down the choice:

Interface to the host system
Many companies base their purchase of hand-held scanners on the current system. However, it is recommended to choose a scanner that has a USB interface and is compatible with RS232. The more interfaces the barcode scanner has, the more extensively the device can be used.

Weight and size
In general, small and light devices are more comfortable to use. However, this always depends on personal preferences.

Special accessories for the barcode scanner are a nice extra. Additional charging stations, feet for setting up the scanner and additional cables can be well worthwhile.

Zebra DS8100

The DS8100 Series rises above conventional imagers delivering unprecedented scanning performance on 1D and 2D barcodes, innovative productivity enhancing tools, including swappable power sources — a PowerPrecision+ battery or PowerCapTM capacitor1 — plus unrivaled manageability tools to keep your scanners up, running and in the hands of your cashiers. Keep checkout lines moving and cashiers free to deliver a more personal checkout experience with the DS8100 Series — because when it comes to the checkout experience, only the best will do.

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Only the DS8100 Series combines the power of an 800 MHz microprocessor, a high-resolution megapixel sensor and Zebra’s exclusive PRZM technology. With this unique combination of hardware and advanced algorithms, the DS8100 Series instantly captures the most problematic barcodes with lightning speed, including dense, poorly printed, crinkled, faded, distorted, dirty or damaged barcodes and electronic barcodes on smartphones — even when the screen is dimly lit.


A wide range of innovations allows workers to do much more than scan barcodes one at a time. Workers can simultaneously capture multiple barcodes and transmit only those required in the proper order directly to your application. Only the DS8100 Series can capture the information on a full 8.5 x 11 or A4 page, process the desired information into the right format for electronic storage and transmit the data to your applications — all with one press of the trigger. And support for Digimarc*© barcodes provides future-proofing, ensuring that the DS8100 Series you deploy today can support the barcodes of tomorrow.


Our complimentary tools deliver unrivaled manageability. With visionary visibility into scanning performance and battery metrics, you can spot and correct issues before they impact device uptime, worker productivity and the quality of your customer service. You can control many aspects of your scanners from any Android, iOS and Windows smartphone or tablet, as well as any iOS or Windows PC. You can create a single configuration barcode to customize settings. And you can stage, configure and update firmware on all your DS8100 devices in all of your locations — no user actions required.

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Zebra DS2200

With the DS2200 Series, you can scan it all. You get an affordable 1D/2D imager that doesn’t compromise performance or features for price. And you can choose the model that best fits your POS needs — the corded DS2208 or the cordless DS2278. The DS2200 Series — the affordability your budget demands, with the deployment, ease of use and management simplicity your business requires.

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Deployment couldn’t be simpler. The DS2200 Series is pre-configured and ready to use right out of the box. Just plug the DS2200 Series into your POS and our auto-host detect cables will automatically identify the interface and connect the imager for you. And if you want to customize your settings, our complimentary 123Scan software tool is so intuitive than even a first time user can easily create a single programming barcode that allows you to configure devices with one scan.


The DS2200 Series is so easy to use, chances are your workers won’t even need training. With Zebra’s PRZM software decode algorithms, omni-directional scanning, a patent-pending intuitive aimer, an unsurpassed scanning range and more, the DS2200 Series provides workers with best-in-class first time, every time scanning with point and shoot simplicity — regardless of barcode condition. And with a Bluetooth model that offers the easiest pairing on the planet and a guaranteed 14 hours of power, workers get a superior wireless experience.


Management is simple — no experienced IT personnel required. Our no-cost tools make it easy to manage scanners in all your locations and develop a custom scanning application to best meet your specific business needs. The long-lasting battery in the cordless DS2278 will likely never need to be replaced during the lifecycle of the scanner, eliminating the need to purchase and manage a battery pool. And with Zebra’s proprietary Wi-Fi Friendly Mode, you can confidently deploy DS2278 cordless models without worrying about interference with your wireless local area network (WLAN). 

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Zebra DS36x8-DP

As a member of the Zebra 3600 Ultra-Rugged Series of scanners, the practically indestructible 1D/2D DS3608-SR corded and DS3678-SR cordless scanners are ready for the world’s toughest environments — the warehouse and manufacturing floor. Designed to capture virtually any barcode from near contact to as far as 5 ft./1.5 m away, these scanners are loaded with features that deliver truly unstoppable performance, redefining reliability and management simplicity. The result? The dependable, fast and accurate scanning you need to take the quality of your products and your customer service to the next level.

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You get the ultimate in scanning performance — period. Your workers can scan virtually any 1D or 2D electronic or printed barcode in any condition, as fast as they can pull the trigger. With 30 percent more working range, it’s easy to capture barcodes that are farther away. Even if barcodes are under shrinkwrap or damaged, dirty or poorly printed, no problem — this intelligent scanner can handle it all.


The manufacturing plant floor is as tough as its gets — and the cost of unplanned downtime on the production line is astronomical. That’s why we created a new product category — the ultra-rugged scanner. The corded and cordless models are the only scanners in this class that are dust-tight, sprayproof and waterproofed to IP67, with an IP65-sealed cradle for a complete rugged cordless solution.


With our complimentary industry-best tools, managing these scanners couldn’t be easier. You can remotely configure and upgrade your scanners, format data properly for instant transmission into your business applications, monitor battery statistics for your cordless models and more.

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Datalogic PowerScan 95X1

Datalogic is introducing the new PowerScan 95X1 Auto Range (AR) Series, the top performing industrial hand held scanner with extra-long range scanning capabilities on 1D/2D barcodes. This addition further expands the PowerScan 9000 family offering by including the Auto Range 2D imaging models.

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The PowerScan 9500 AR imager has a powerful autofocus system that allows the scanner to read from a short distance of 15 cm / 6 in to a distance of more than 20 m / 65 ft with a fast focus adjustment, allowing the operator to easily move from a closeup barcode to a barcode at the top of a warehouse rack. A powerful LED lighting system projects a regular pattern with sharp edges that can be used as a field of view indicator in the closeup field, while a laser aimer enables the visibility of the scanner aimer at long distances.

The PowerScan 95X1 AR imagers are available in a Desk model (PD9531-AR), and cordless models featuring Datalogic’s STAR Cordless System™ 2.0 proprietary radio (PM9501-AR) or Bluetooth® 3.1 wireless technology (PBT9501-AR). 

The PowerScan 95X1 AR imagers will share the same accessories as other PowerScan 9XXX series products, allowing a combination of devices and base stations according to the different needs of the user’s environment.

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Datalogic Gryphon 4500

The Gryphon 4500 series stands out with an elegant and trendy design, user friendly ergonomics and features the most advanced megapixel sensor with warm-white-illumination 2D technology for outstanding performance. The Gryphon 4500 omnidirectional imager provides snappy reading performance on all common 1D and 2D codes. High Density (HD) models are available for reading smaller, condensed codes as well as Dot codes. A dedicated version with red illumination optics also supports Digital Watermarking.

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Datalogic’s Motionix™ motion-sensing technology enables the scanner to intuitively switch into ‘hand held’ mode when the device is picked up. When placed back into the cradle, it seamlessly returns to ‘stand’ mode. The adjustable position cradle provides the flexibility to use the scanner in presentation or stand mode while it is charging.

The wireless models feature Bluetooth wireless technology (GBT model) or narrow band radio communications with Datalogic’s STAR Cordless System (GM model). 

One of the most important technical innovations that the Gryphon 4500 wireless readers achieve is the wireless charging system for the battery, which enhances the reliability of the entire solution, while lowering the total cost of ownership (no need for contact cleaning or maintenance procedures). The maximum reliability offered by the Gryphon wireless charging technology means 24/7 activities with no stops for maintenance or repair and top-level operating productivity and performance.

The Gryphon 4500 imagers are also available in Healthcare models featuring disinfectant-ready and anti-microbial enclosures for applications in the Healthcare industry.

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Cognex DataMan 8700

Manufacturing environments in automotive, medical device, electronics, aerospace, and product security industries require rugged, high performing, and easy to use barcode reading technology to ensure top component traceability and productivity. DataMan 8700 series handheld barcode readers decode the toughest direct part mark (DPM) and label-based codes while withstanding harsh oils, dirt, and water. A built-in display screen enables quick setup and operator feedback, and the readers support a broad range of industrial protocols and communications to connect and operate efficiently in any facility.

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Robust oil and water resistant housing

In the past, oils and fluids surrounding an application site have quickly damaged barcode scanners, but the DataMan 8700 barcode reader is built to last in the harshest environments. It has IP67-rated housing and meets the ISO 16750-5 oil specification for oil resistance. It is submergible in one meter of water without causing damage and withstands multiple drops from 2.5 meters onto concrete.

Premium read performance in milliseconds

The DataMan 8700DX model is equipped with the latest patented decoding algorithms, HDR technology, high speed liquid lens, and a multi-core processor to read codes in under 150 milliseconds. Integrated diffuse, polarized, and direct lighting enables superior image formation to read dot peen, laser-etched, and label-based codes on challenging (shiny, cylindrical, dark) surfaces without any hot spots.

OLED display screen makes setup easy

DataMan 8700 series provides a first-of-its-kind OLED display screen to make setup easy and to give operators quick and intuitive feedback without connecting to a PC.

  • Setup the reader using the configurator buttons below the screen
  • Name the reader to know which station it belongs to
  • View the wireless signal strength to ensure the reader is within range
  • Monitor battery life so the reader doesn’t power down mid-shift
  • Review code data to ensure a successful read

Supports more communication options

Integrated industrial protocols enable DataMan 8700 barcode readers to easily connect to PLCs and factory networks. DataMan 8700 supports more communication options than ever before, including Bluetooth 4.2 and a corded option. It allows for a direct connection to computers, tablets, and phones.

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