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Barcode Scanner Interface

Posted by POSCatch Team on

IMPORTANT: Before purchasing a barcode scanner of any kind know first if you require a  1D barcode scanner (most common) or a 2D barcode scanner.

Barcode Scanner Interface Types

Thera are primarily 5 different interface (connection) types for a handheld barcode scanner. You will choose a barcode scanner interface based on the most popular type for your application or based on your POS system and software requirements. Learn how to choose the right barcode scanner interface for you with this informative guide.

USB Barcode Scanner Interface (Most Common)

USB Barcode Scanner

USB barcode scanner interface is the most popular and most widely sold barcode scanner. A USB barcode scanner data in interpreted by a computer in ‘keyboard emulation’ mode. This means that a computer views a connected USB barcode scanner as if it were a keyboard, so a USB scanner is for all essential purposes an automatic keyboard. Before you purchase a USB barcode scanner, be sure you have an open USB port on your computer. If you do not, then you will need to get a powered USB hub. USB barcode scanners function properly when connected to a powered hub. Also note that a USB barcode scanner is USB port powered (no additional power supply needed).

PS/2 Barcode Scanner Interface

PS/2 barcode scanner interface is commonly called a keyboard wedge, which was the most popular type of barcode scanner interface before the USB interface type surpassed it in popularity. A PS/2 scanner interface is called a ‘keyboard wedge’ because the barcode scanner has a Y cable, so a PS/2 keyboard can be connected, which wedges the keyboard and barcode scanner into one PS/2 port connection. Many computers manufactured today don’t have a PS/2 port; however, older legacy POS systems still utilize PS/2 barcode scanner ports. If you are buying a replacement barcode scanner for an older legacy POS system, then it is best to check the barcode scanner’s interface type first before purchasing. Also note that a PS/2 barcode scanner is port powered, so there is no need for an additional power supply.

Serial RS232 Barcode Scanner Interface

Serial RS232 barcode scanner interface is the rarest type today. The 2 main Serial barcode scanner types are: 1, DB9Serial RS232 Barcode Scanner (standard Serial port for a PC), or, 2, Serial RJ45. Usually only legacy and proprietary POS systems require a Serial barcode scanner connection such as legacy IBM POS system or a Verifone Ruby Gilbarco system that’s commonly installed at gas stations. Chances of you needing a Serial barcode scanner is slim indeed; however, it is always best to check your POS system and with your software vendor first if you are unsure of the barcode scanner interface type required. Also note that a Serial barcode scanner is generally not port powered, so a power supply may be needed at time of purchase. However, we should state that some Serial barcode scanners can be port powered. For example, a Serial scanner connected to a DB9 port could be powered on ‘PIN 9’. If you are replacing an older Serial barcode scanner, pay close attention to if it is Serial port or AC adapter powered?

Wireless Barcode Scanner Interface (RF & Bluetooth) 

The 2 most common types of wireless barcode scanner interface types are: 1,  radio frequency (RF), 2, Bluetooth. A wireless RF barcode scanner is generally available in handheld, ruggedized units. Therese scanners are ideal for scanning at a distance from the POS system or for warehouse inventory. A RF barcode scanner communicates with its host computer either via a USB dongle or a USB communication/charging base. All RF scanners have different ranges (how far they can scan from the base or host PC), so be sure to check the scanner’s range before you buy. For instance, you don’t want to purchase a RF barcode scanner that can only scan 100 feet from the base when you need to scan up to 200 feet away. Also note that RF barcode scanners are generally at a lower cost than Bluetooth scanners.

A Bluetooth barcode scanner interface is the most common type of wireless scanner. Bluetooth barcode scanners come in many different sizes and prices. For example, you can purchase a  keychain barcode scanner to pair with your smartphone or tablet device. Or you can purchase a  full sized handheld Bluetooth barcode scanner that is designed for scanning at a POS system or warehouse for inventory control. If you are purchasing a Bluetooth barcode scanner to pair with an Apple device such as an iPad, it is best to ensure that the Bluetooth scanner you buy is  MFi certified. Be sure to also check a scanner’s scan range (how far away it can scan) from its host. 

Additional Resources

Barcode Scanner Buying Guide

Know Your Port Interface Types

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