Before the invention of the scanner, people had to manually record data using pen and paper. This was a tedious process that took up much of workers’ time. Luckily, with the development of barcode and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) scanners, collecting and recording information became much easier. But what is a scanner exactly? In this guide, we’ll discuss the definition of a scanner (with a focus on barcode and RFID scanners) and which type of scanner is best suited for your application.


The Definition Of A Scanner


The definition of a scanner, according to the Collins dictionary, is a “machine used to examine, identify, or record things” — in other words, a scanner is a device used to collect data. 


What Is It Used For?


Scanning devices come in all shapes and sizes and can be used for multiple purposes. The most common purposes of a scanner involve the following:


  • Reading barcodes from products in order to look up product information or access inventory control systems.
  • Scanning documents and images to upload them into digital files.
  • Identifying RFID tags to collect data about goods, vehicles, or even people.


Types Of Scanners


There are about seven different types available on the market today. They include the following:



As this guide only focuses on the RFID vs barcode scanners, read on to find out more about these two types of scanners.


What Is A Barcode Scanner?


A barcode scanner (also known as a barcode reader) is a device that scans barcodes to store the information contained in them. The most common example of barcode scanners are those used by supermarkets and retail stores to read the UPC codes on products that customers buy.

Barcode scanners come in two forms — stationary or handheld. Stationary barcode scanners are mounted onto a stand, while handheld devices are held by hand or attached to a belt clip for convenience.


What Is An RFID Scanner?


An RFID scanner (also known as an RFID reader) is a device that reads the information encoded in RFID tags or labels. These tags generally contain product-related information, such as item numbers and serial numbers. The big question always asked when it comes to RFID technology is, “How do RFID scanners work?

An RFID reader works wirelessly with RFID tags that contain a tiny chip and an antenna. The chip stores information which the reader can read. It does this by sending out electromagnetic waves that act like keys to unlock the data stored on the tag.

An example of where RFID scanners are commonly used is in agriculture, manufacturing or even as an RFID retail security system. In the retail setting, RFID scanners are used to track inventory, preventing theft of products. 


Which Scanner Should You Use?


Now that you know what types of scanners there are and how they work, the big question is which one you should use. This decision ultimately depends on what your needs are. Ask yourself these questions when you are deciding between RFID vs barcode readers:


  • What kind of data do you need to collect?
  • How often will you be using the scanner?
  • Will you be scanning a variety of different types of objects, such as tags, labels, and cards?
  • Is cost an important factor for you?
  • Do you want to save time? 


Your answers to these questions will help you decide which type of scanner is right for you. RFID scanners are typically more expensive than barcode readers, but they can also save time and provide better accuracy in reading data since it works wirelessly and doesn’t require a line of sight. On the other hand, barcode scanners are generally cheaper and require less setup time.


Key Points


This guide discussed in detail RFID and barcode scanners, and how to decide which one is best for you. Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of scanners out there, you can make an informed decision when choosing one!

Visit Milestone today to find out more about the RFID product, as well as get the best RFID scanner price for your needs!