Wasp Barcode Technologies: The Barcode Solution People

Types of Barcode Scanners

There are several types of barcode scanners with a wide variety of features that benefit specific environments, applications, and industries. Each scanner falls into one of the following categories:
  • Handheld - The most popular type of scanner, handheld barcode scanners perform a variety of functions and come in both corded and cordless (wireless) styles.
  • In-counter - A type of presentation scanner, an in-counter scanner sits inside a counter to facilitate easy scanning.
  • Fixed-mount - Fixed-mount scanners read barcodes using sensors that are triggered when items pass in front of it.
These scanners use barcode scan engines to read linear (1D) and 2D barcodes.

Compare barcode scanners

The following table compares the barcode scanner types. Review it to determine which type of scanner works best for your needs.

barcode scanner types




Ideal for




 Handheld Scanner

  • The most common type of barcode scanner
  • Offers both corded and cordless (wireless) versions
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Uses a trigger to capture the image
  • Stands are available for hands-free operations


  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Grocery stores
  • Warehouses
  • Healthcare
  • Logistics


  • Retail
  • Warehouses
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics
  • Field services

Mobile Computer



 Mobile Computer

  • Combines the functionality of PCs and scanners into one handheld device
  • Commonly confused with a wireless or cordless scanners, which typically only provide the ability to scan
  • Enables users to efficiently work within and beyond four walls
  • Provides more processing power than traditional barcode scanners
  • Stores data into internal memory
  • Enables real-time transmission of information via a wireless network (WiFi or WLAN)
  • All organizations that desire true mobility for such tasks as managing inventory and tracking assets
  • Field services and other mobile workforce personnel
  • Companies using voice technology





  • Considered a type of mobile computer
  • Also known as a rugged tablet PC
  • Similar to consumer versions except they are more rugged and durable
  • Includes Windows, Android, and iOS operating systems
  • Environments where durability and ruggedness are desired for tablets and smart phones




 Presentation Scanner

  • Also known as an on-counter scanner because it is designed to sit on top of a counter
  • Considered stationary (or hands-free) because users do not hold these scanners
  • Functions similarly to in-counter scanners
  • Has a wide reading area that makes it easy to scan multiple items
  • Does not require a trigger—the scanner automatically reads barcodes when an item is placed in front of it
  • Retail
  • Grocery stores




 In Counter Scanner

  • Similar to presentation counters because they are stationary and have a wide reading area
  • Allows users to easily scan multiple items
  • Requires a professional installation
  • Embedded into counters, rather than on top of them
  • Automatically reads barcodes when an item is placed in front of it without having to pull a trigger
  • Grocery stores
  • Self-check lines in retail environments




 Fixed Mount Scanner

  • Reads barcodes using sensors or controllers that are triggered when items pass in front of it
  • Most have a laser scan engine that requires users to mount them at a specific angle and distance from the barcodes that will pass in front of them
  • Designed to be integrated with large automated systems
  • Typically used on a conveyor line or in a kiosk and are sometimes attached to a vehicle such as a forklift
  • Available in multiple speeds to accommodate fast assembly lines
  • Eliminates the need for human intervention
  • Extremely durable and reliable
  • Work-in-progress (WIP) environments such as manufacturers
  • Organizations with high-speed sorting along conveyor systems, such as warehouses and logistics
  • Laboratories (use small models)
  • Kiosks
  • Security identification apps
  • Vehicles




 Wearable Scanner

  • Also known as a back-of-hand scanner
  • Straps a small box with the laser barcode scanner to either the back of the hand or on a finger (like a ring)
  •  Keeps scanners conveniently close
  • Allows users to more freely use their hands
  • May have automatic scanning or be activated by a trigger so the scanner doesn’t inadvertently scan the wrong barcode
  • Environments where voice technology is used