Barcode scanners come in various shapes and sizes but the main difference between them is in relation to serial outputs. The kind of barcode scanner software you may need depends on these outputs. There are three basic outputs to consider:
- Keyboard wedge output
- RS232 serial output
- USB output
Which is the right one for you depends largely on the software you are currently running and the ports available on your computer.
Keyboard Wedge - No Additional Software Needed
This is the most common type of output in which the scanner is plugged into the keyboard port and the keyboard is then plugged into the scanner itself. This way you can carry on using the keyboard as normal and the scanner in turn is powered by it.
The data from the barcode scanner is read much like the computer would read information typed on a keyboard, in other words the scanner acts like a keyboard and therefore eliminates the need for extra barcode scanner software to be used. The simplicity of this system means there is less chance of things going wrong
That is not to say there are no problems with the keyboard wedge output. It can be a little fiddly lining up the curser to the correct application, for example. Often if care isn't taken it can lead to information being lost or entered incorrectly.
As the keyboard wedge output is essentially a closed keyboard to the computer, it does not have the benefit of adding other data or separating the information into different fields. This inflexibility makes it unsuitable for certain businesses.
RS232 Serial Output Software
Unlike the keyboard wedge output scanner, the RS232 needs a power source to run. This is because the RS232 is connected directly to the RS232 port, which does not generate enough power to run the scanner.
It uploads the data directly to the correct application and so is simpler to use, and you are less likely to lose data or send it to the wrong place. It is also a far more flexible way to upload scanned information in comparison to the keyboard wedge system.
Getting the system up and running can cause some headaches as it has to work with the correct software and newer PCs and almost all laptops do not come with an RS232 port. Thankfully you can buy an add on adapter.
Despite needing a bit more expertise when installing the RS232, once it is up and running it is a much simpler way of using a barcode scanner. So if you or your staff are not tech savvy, this would be the system to use. No system is foolproof but in regards to barcode scanning software, this source is as close as you can get.
USB Output Software
USB output scanners are essentially one or the other of the two previously mentioned systems. USB scanners do not exist per se, rather they take on the attributes of either a keyboard wedge scanner or an RS232 scanner.
Obviously the USB scanner uses the USB port on your computer but depending on which output it will mimic, the USB will be read by the computer as an extra keyboard, like the keyboard wedge system, or as an RS232 input. If you have purchased the latter then you will need to ensure you have the relevant software and drivers.
The advantage of using the USB RS232 output is there is no need for “Add ons” for those computers or laptops without a standard RS232 port.
Barcode Scanner Software Suppliers
There are many suppliers of barcode scanner software out there. Below are just a few of the most renowned:
Motorola – Although they are probably best known for mobile phones, Motorola have a fine selection of barcode scanners available and will also provide barcode scanner software solutions.
WASP – Well known in all corners of EPOS systems, WASP have a large and flexible range of products available. Whatever your requirements the chances are WASP will be able to supply you with high quality barcode scanner software for barcode decoding and data input.
Unitech – Much like WASP, Unitech are well renowned in regards to electronic point of sales systems. Whether you need a barcode scanner or specialised scanner software, Unitech has various solutions.
Honeywell – Very few companies can boast the range, reputation and quality of Honeywell. Whatever output source or type of software you need, you will find it in Honeywell’s range of products.
OnBarcode – OnBarcode is a free-to-download barcode scanner and reader software supporting GIF, JPEG, PNG and TIFF files that runs on Windows XP and newer.
With so many components, systems, software and hardware available to you, it can be a little overwhelming sifting through the various options. By filling in our simple web form, you can narrow your search down to the relevant products for your requirements and budget. It only takes a few moments and can save you time and money by making sure you select the right product for your business.