Hey remember the other day how I put up instructions on how to set a custom beep on your DS4800? Well I thought it’d be good to get some documented proof of it using a custom tone. Yes I used my iPhone in portrait mode to record it.

Did you know that you don’t need a Square Stand to connect a USB barcode scanner to your iPad? We put together a walk through on Instructables with steps on how to use a cabled barcode scanner with an iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch or other iOS product. There are some hubs available that’ll let you connect keyboard and other HID peripherals to your iOS device, we got ours at Amazon. Anyway, head on over to that article and learn more!

Hey we have more videos, this time of the Motorola LI2208 scanner. While the first video showed us trying to break the scanner, this one covers more of the functionality of the scanner. It’s a very functional scanner. I really do like the “Auto-Aim” mode as a means to improve accuracy, especially with how fast the scanner is. And that 3-foot scan range for regular retail barcodes is going to make it wicked easy for anyone to get a good read.

Motorola LI2208

July 9, 2013

Motorola LI2208Motorola just announced a new scanner, and I finally get to tell you about it. The Motorola LI2208 is their new linear imager, fitting in the same arenas as the LS2208. But the scanner offers unparalleled performance and should stand out for quite some time as a top retail barcode scanner.

Linear imagers are finally starting to catch up with laser scanners in terms of price and performance, which is terrific. There aren’t too many ways you can tune a laser before you start melting holes in plastic bags, and some people freak out when lasers get near their face. So the LI2208 is a great step in expanding features and functionality for medium to high volume scanning.

For regular UPC barcodes, you can get reads from an inch to about three feet away. Even if you’ve never used a barcode scanner before, you should be able to competently scan with the LI2208. I think the only person who might have trouble with it is like a feral person who was raised by wolves. They might try to chew on it.

What really stood out to me was the LI2208’s ability to scan barcodes on LCD screens. Imaging technology has grown in leaps and bounds since I started working here. It used to be that barcodes would have to be enlarged 400% just for the imager to maybe possibly get a read off an LCD screen. With the LI2208, we were able to scan un-enlarged six mil barcodes off a screen with no issues.

Auto sense stands are available for the scanner in case you want presentation scanning. There is also an Auto-Aim feature, where the LI2208’s beam is constantly on but won’t scan until you pull the trigger, dramatically increasing accuracy. This might not seem like a big deal, but for manufacturer part barcodes, like the umpteen that are on any given smartphone box or hard drive, being able to line up the shot is awesome.

In terms of durability, the LI2208 offers a similar build quality of other high-end retail scanners. It’s lightweight and has some rubber on it, so you can drop it from six feet to concrete and it’ll keep on scanning. I don’t know why it’d be six feet in the air in the first place, but I guess knocks off counters won’t harm it at all this way. It also sports an IP42 seal, which means some dirt and water splashes won’t affect internal components, but I wouldn’t tag this with a hose or throw it in the ocean.

In all, this is the next scanner to get if you don’t want to worry about replacing it in the near future. It’ll work just as well in low volume retail establishments, outdoor garden centers, and even high volume department stores or grocers. Scanning on LCD screens is terrific if you want to add mobile couponing, but don’t necessarily want to take the full plunge into 2D scanning as well.

Motorola MP6000 Scanner

January 8, 2013

mp6000I never thought I’d make a post about a scanner / scale combo on this blog, let alone two. And here I am, writing about the Motorola MP6000 that was just announced and will be on display at NRF. This bi-optic scanner / scale hybrid grocery store barcode scanner is yet another big move toward making your grocery experience a pleasant one.

As I said before, most grocery stores have in-counter scanner / scale combos, and most of them were built over a decade ago. Technology progresses, but who wants to plop down 30 grand to upgrade 16 checkstand’s worth of scanners when they’re working alright. Maybe now they’ll do it, because the MP6000 comes with not one, not two, but up to three 2D imagers built-in.

The industry is slowly but surely moving toward imagers for data capture. In the past few years image capture technology has improved dramatically while costs have cratered, making them an affordable way to scan barcodes. Also there’s only so much you can do to a laser before you start burning things. Anyway, the three scanners in the MP6000 provide the same scanning capabilities you see in their DS9808 and DS9208, namely super aggressive with superior motion tolerance.

Those bi-optic laser scanners are also ridiculously loud. Like CRAZY loud. We had one in the office as a demo for a bit and the sales guys would routinely unplug it or cover the scanning windows so it’d go into a sleep mode. But once it woke up, two sets of spinning prisms would kick into gear and you’d get a great hum permeating through the office. Thankfully, the MP6000’s imagers have no moving parts, so you get near silent operation. I guess there could be some noise from the general computer hums or something, but nothing like the old scanners.

The third barcode scanner is an optional side-mount imager, so now customers who have mobile coupons or customer loyalty apps can scan their stuff without handing their phone over to someone else. This should make checkout a lot more convenient for customers and faster for everyone involved. I do have an inquiry out on driver’s license parsing but I don’t see why that wouldn’t be built-in.

Motorola tuned the MP6000 to save you on energy bills as well. The imagers are controlled by a series of infrared sensors that only activate the scanning array when a barcode is in range. Once it scans a barcode, it shuts back off. I have been told this cuts the power use tremendously, and Motorola’s fact sheet claims at least 30% energy savings over the competition. That’s a pretty solid cut. Once I get some real actual numbers we’ll get some back of the envelope math on energy consumption/savings.

All in all, this is going to be a pretty significant shift in high volume grocery scanning. I can’t wait for greater detail to come down from the Moto mothership, it’ll be interesting to see what the total cost and return on investment the MP6000 brings to grocers.

So we have video now of the scanner we’ll still not name going up against Symbol’s LS2208. As you can see, while the knockoff scanner costs tremendously less than the LS2208, it is also a lot cheaper. Totally not worth it.

Honeywell Voyager 1400g

July 12, 2012

Honeywell Voyager 1400gHoneywell has released a new Voyager, more voyagey than the old Voyager and way more voyagetastic than the original. The Voyager 1400g offers omnidirectional scanning and is a great fit if you’re looking to add 2D scanning to your business without breaking the bank.

The barcode scanner comes in three flavors: a 1D only imager, 1D and PDF scanning, and full 2D imaging. What’s really great about these scanners is that if you know at some point down the road you want 2D imaging, but right now you can’t justify the full cost, you can get the 1D model, then upgrade the scanner itself later on. No need to buy a full scanner each time you want additional functionality.

I’ve gotten to take a Voyager 1400g out for a spin, and it’s a great device. Standard UPC barcodes are read pretty easily from up to a foot away and at all angles, cutting out almost all of the hassles you run into with a standard 1D scanner. 2D barcodes are read equally easily, including Data Matrix, QR, and Aztec codes. The Voyager 1400g uses a red LED as an aimer, but a white light to illuminate the barcode, so if you have a way to power it, it can be a great makeshift flashlight.

The Voyager 1400g, by nature of being an imager, can read barcodes on cell phone or LCD screens. This is great for retailers looking to do mobile couponing, ticket checking, or just trying to see if you can read weird barcodes on screens. The scanner is not able to do optical character recognition (OCR) or image capture, but there’s the Xenon 1900 ready and waiting to recognize characters and take pictures, so no biggie.

We did run into some issues scanning outside on a sunny day. Our test sheet of barcodes is pretty glossy, and I think we managed to find the one angle where glare from the sun actually made it impossible to get a good read. As soon as a little shade covered the barcode, the Voyager 1400g would pick up the barcode. But really, it’s such a specific instance that it’s not too big a deal.

All in all, the Voyager 1400g is a fantastic and affordable addition to any business. The fact that you can easily upgrade the firmware to transition from 1D scanning to 1D and 2D scanning makes it great, in my mind, for retailers who want to scan 2D barcodes eventually, but don’t want to have to buy multiple scanners, or can’t justify the cost for a full 2D scanner quite yet.

Diginfo.tv has an interesting article on a new scanning technology from Toshiba, where the checkstand scanner uses image recognition to determine products as opposed to scanning a barcode. I think this isĀ  a fantastic development for grocers, but I think their headline is a little hyperbolic in that this signals the end of barcodes.

The video shows a tech demo at a trade show, so they may have been running slowly to show how easily the products are read, but it seemed about as fast as the grocer down the street who doesn’t have a scanner and manually keys in products. And compared to an omnidirectional scanner at a real actual supermarket, this seems remarkably slow.

I’m sure Toshiba is going to tune this technology so it’ll be as fast, if not faster, than standard scanners you encounter at grocery stores & supermarkets, but right now it looks like it’d be a strong complement to a laser scanner, not a replacement. Using a camera instead of a scanner could also be a fantastic tool for self-check systems, where right now customers have to sift through screens of products to find the right jalapeno or onion. But I don’t think an employee trained to use the scanner in the video is going to be faster or more accurate than an employee trained to use a flatbed scanner and keyed entry combination.

So yeah, Toshiba’s technology will be really interesting to see in use, but I doubt it’s going to end barcodes.

We managed to get our hands on some Motorola LI4278 barcode scanners, and we decided the best plan was to break one on video. Somehow we failed. Aside from some superficial (and some less than superficial) damage, the scanner kept on scanning.

So after dropping it from about 80-feet to asphalt, kicking it down a road, spiking it off a wall, hitting it with a plank, standing on it, hosing it down, and driving over it a few times, we could only scuff up the housing and crack the head of the scanner. But it still runs like a champ.

Durability Tested LI4278

For a retail-priced scanner, we were amazed at the amount of abuse it survived. We really don’t recommend actually doing this to your scanner, but if you have remarkably clumsy employees or like to throw stuff to people, this is a great fit.

What happens when you run over an LI4278 with a car

Motorola LI4278

January 16, 2012

Motorola LI4278 Barcode ScannerI’ve traditionally pegged Motorola (really Symbol) as the company that makes great laser scanners. Their LS2208 has been selling a ton since the beginning of time, and it’s a great choice for a lot of retailers. However, with their creation of the Blockbuster 2D imager, and now their linear imager, they’re distancing themselves from the pack as a premier data capture manufacturer. Their first entry into the linear imager market, the Motorola LI4278, has a list of specs that make it a fantastic choice for cordless scanning.

The LI4278 looks very much like their LS4278, and is a cordless 1D barcode scanner. I do believe it will be supplanting the LS4278 eventually, so the transition should look pretty seamless. And it’s compatible with the LS4278 cradles, so if you have an old LS4278 and you want to upgrade, you just need the scanner. That is great forward thinking on Motorola’s part. There are plenty of LS4278’s in the wild, and if the LI4278’s spec sheet is any indication, upgrading is a no-brainer.

In terms of scanning, the LI4278 is a fantastic device. For standard UPC barcodes, you can get a read from an inch to 31 inches out. Most linear imagers out there can get reads from 18 inches back, some of the higher end ones make it to about 25-30 inches, so a retail scanner getting reads from that distance is going to be a boon to many businesses. Especially places like Costco, where maybe you can’t reach the barcode way up on the second or third shelf. High volume scanning should be no sweat for the LI4278. A maximum scan speed of 547 scans per second hangs in with even some presentation scanners, and the barcode scanner’s motion tolerance of 25″ per sec (1.4 mph) is pretty solid for a linear imager.

Bluetooth powers the wireless radio on the LI4278, Bluetooth v2.1 Class 2 to be exact. Most manufacturers run with this radio, as it can send data pretty quickly, and data transmissions are encrypted. Why you don’t want prying eyes to know you just scanned a case of Mountain Dew is a little beyond me, but I guess it’s important when you’re scanning like drivers license or customer data. With this radio, you get 330 feet of effective range, way beyond most cordless scanners and their paltry 33 feet of radio range. The Bluetooth radio also allows you to connect the LI4278 to a mobile computer or laptop, maybe even your iPhone or Motorola ET1 tablet. It runs in HID mode, so scanned data will be sent as keyboard input, making it really easy to integrate into a lot of mobility applications.

The LI4278’s battery provides more than a shift’s worth of scanning, eliminating nagging fears that the scanner’s just going to stop partway through a day. The replaceable battery with “green sustainability” can run for 72 hours on a full charge, or up to 57,000 scans. I can see why they’d put an either or. At the max scan rate, you can hit 57,000 scans in a little under two minutes. Or if you stayed at that scan rate for 72 hours, you’d read 141.7 million barcodes.

Motorola built the LI4278 for retail and maybe light industrial applications, and the durability matches up with those needs pretty well. The scanner sports an IP54 seal, though it’s advertised as a “gasket seal to protect from dust and water sprays.” It’s also built to withstand 100 consecutive 5-foot drops to concrete, so even a really clumsy person should be okay to use it.

I’m trying to get one in house to really put it through its paces, but so far the LI4278 is poised to be a fantastic scanner and a great release to start 2012. The 330-foot range and advanced scanning capabilities ensure that it’ll exceed most business’s needs for quite some time. And personally I’d rather have a product that does a lot more than I need, rather than a lot less.

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