USB vs. Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

USB barcode scanners and Bluetooth barcode scanners provide distinct benefits suitable for different work environments. The following comparison guide outlines the pros and cons of each scanner type to help you choose the barcode scanner that best fits your needs.

USB Barcode Scanners

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Summary

A wired connection is ideal for small businesses that only need to scan items at the cash register. A wired connector ties employees to wherever they can plug the scanner in.

Pros

  • Setup - Simply plug the barcode scanner into the computer's USB port. The computer recognizes the device, and you can start scanning items right away.
  • Power - Powered by the USB. There are no batteries to replace.
  • USB Technology - Convenient, fast, secure and cheap.
  • Cost - USB technology is less expensive than Bluetooth.
  • Tethered Device - No hunting for a temporarily misplaced scanner while scanning.

Cons

  • Configuration - Issues may occur such as the scanner turning off randomly, not recognizing barcodes, requiring users to press Enter, etc.
  • Immobility - Scanned items must be brought to the reader. Scanning is limited to to roughly 1.5 Meters from connected device.
  • Port - Requires a USB port. Some computers and tablets (iPads) do not have a USB port.
  • Cables - Requires cables that can break/wear out and require changing TCO.

Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

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Summary

If scanning requirements involve traveling or large areas, a wireless barcode scanner is beneficial. With a Bluetooth barcode scanner, the employee is free to do business as far as 10 meters away from their device. If connected to a tablet or smartphone, they can go anywhere.

Pros

  • Freedom of Movement - Scanner is not tethered to a device and can scan up to 10 meters away from their connected device.
  • Scan Stationary Items - The ability to bring the reader to scan stationary or immobile items. 
  • Service On the Go - Ability to service the customer wherever they are. 
  • Setup - Barcode scanners require no drivers; simply pair with Bluetooth. The computer should recognize the device, and you should be able to start scanning right away.
  • Connection - Does not require an external port. Connects to any device that support Bluetooth Classic.

Cons

  • Power - Requires batteries, which limits usage duration.
  • Cost - Bluetooth technology is more expensive than USB.
  • Interference - Subject to outside interference (e.g. microwave oven, WiFi).