Off-Brand Barcode Scanners: Are They Worth It?

December 10, 2012

Quick answer: No

Long answer:

From time to time we hear of companies selling barcode scanners that look close enough to the major players, but at unbeatable prices. Like $40 for a Symbol LS2208 knockoff. But like Ninolta cameras and Mokia phones, these knockoffs are going to cost you a lot more in the long run in terms of lost productivity and frustration.

We recently picked up one of these scanners, available on Amazon and through their own site, for not much. The manufacturer, who I’ll refuse to name, also sells car rear view cameras, TV antennas, and outdoor LED strip lights. You know they’re making major moves for the data capture market when they also sell a tape to MP3 converter.

Though the scanner looks sort-of like a Symbol LS2208, the performance pales in comparison. The trigger mechanism merely activates the autosense in the scanner, similar to waving your hand or a barcode in front of the scanner. This does make the scanner act like an actual barcode scanner but doesn’t give the common experience of holding the trigger until a barcode is scanned. It also means that products moved near the scanner activates the laser, which can cause bad reads on products with multiple barcodes.

The included stand is thin plastic and doesn’t actually need an autosense activator, as the scanner is always autosense. The boot of the stand clamps around the scanner, so you have to physically hold down the stand to remove the scanner. Or you can just swing it around like it’s an extension to the scanner. Either way. And the plastic screw that holds the stand at a proper angle loosens easily and on its own, making it difficult to keep a consistent scanning area.

I looked into the warranty on this product. It’s up to 12 months, which isn’t too bad compared to other $40 scanners. However, the manufacturer requires the reseller to handle any warranty coverage for that time period. I doubt Amazon or Ebay are going to handle warranty calls for this product.

In comparison, our top selling barcode scanners come with a 5-year warranty. 5 Years of coverage for manufacturer defects and performance degradation, with optional comprehensive coverage for just a few bucks. You pay a little more and you can run your scanner over with a forklift, send it to the manufacturer, and they’ll give you a replacement.

If you read over my other product review/announcement posts, I give pretty glowing reviews of the products we sell. And that’s because those products are purpose built for our industry. Even if they’re not the best for everyone, they’re great for specific applications, and I do my best to point it out. Further, we only list products that are going to work well for you.

TL;DR – Knockoff scanners aren’t worth it.

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