We regularly hear the terms ‘mobile computers’ and ‘barcode scanners’ used interchangeably. When in fact they are two very different devices used for different purposes. When implementing a barcode solution, it is important to know the differences to see what would work better for your business.
What are Barcode Scanners?
A barcode scanner is an input device that captures and reads the information contained within a barcode. Basic scanners record and translate the barcode into numbers/letters. The code must then be sent to a computer database for further information. This can be done with a wired connection (for example a serial or keyboard port) or wirelessly.
There are many different kinds of barcode scanners, including 1D, 2D, Bluetooth or wireless, omnidirectional, and more. Although some barcode readers use lasers, and others use lights or cameras, they all have one thing in common. Their basic purpose is to translate the barcode into an electronic code and send it to a computer or database. They are merely one piece of a barcode-based stock system.
How are Mobile Computers Different?
While mobile computers come equipped with a barcode scanner, they can do so much more than just scan. They are basically the combination of the computer and the scanner, integrated into one device. Mobile computers are a computing and data entry solution that can be integrated into your existing system. Mobile computers can move freely via a wireless infrastructure while still performing tasks in real-time.
They have the ability to run multiple business applications at once, such as an inventory or asset tracking solutions. The functional keypad allows for manual input if needed. They are available in both Windows and Android operarting systems and have full colour screens. Mobile computers have rugged designs that make them extremely durable and weather resistant. Which is perfect for field engineers or or busy factory floors.
What device is best for me?
In the end, the best device for your business depends on your business and budget. Barcode scanners would be perfect for a smaller business that don’t require anything more than a computer simply reading the barcode. They are easy to start using, most of them just being plug and play. Scanners generally do not require any software or drivers once plugged into a computer. Although they can be limited in range of their wireless connection, and are more of a tool than an entire system.
Larger industries, such as warehousing, manufacturing, logistics or even retailers, would probably best suit a mobile computing solution. Mobile computers would work better than barcode scanners in this instance. They allow for more flexibility to conduct tasks without having to return to a computer to log every scan.
Whichever you choose, you’ll be sure to see time savings, error reduction and better inventory control immediately. The ROI for this kind of upgrade is worth it. In most cases it is a requirement for any business looking to stay viable in a local or global economy.