Unitech MS910 Cordless Scanner

September 20, 2012

We have had the Unitech MS910 barcode scanner up on our site for a few months, but I finally got my hands on a real actual unit to test out. So far, it’s a pretty easy to use and really affordable option for bluetooth scanning for iPhones, Android phones, or any tablet or laptop.

Unitech advertises the scanner as being as small as a pack of gum, and it definitely feels about the same size as those small packs of Wrigley’s. It’s remarkably lightweight and easy to carry, and the shiny trigger feels responsive when scanning.

Pairing the MS910 with my iPhone did take a bit longer than with comparable products, but is incredibly straightforward. An included Quick Guide has the configuration barcodes necessary for pairing, and after scanning a passcode provided on the iPhone’s screen, I was able to send data to any open text field.

The MS910 reads most 1D barcodes with ease, including retail barcodes and even 1D shipping barcodes. There is a little bit of a learning curve to find the sweet spot, as the depth of field is about half a foot for standard UPC barcodes. I wonder how many times I can write barcode in one paragraph. Barcode. We were even able to read barcodes off LCD screens, including cell phones.

In terms of durability, the MS910 is built for retail use. It has a drop spec of 5 feet, so maybe if you’re a little clumsy or knock it off a shelf it should be fine. But there’s also an included wrist strap, eliminating the risk of drops entirely, and making the scanner feel a bit like a Wiimote.

I think the MS910 is a great fit for plenty of mobile scanning applications. From general inventory management to shipping receiving, the scanner reads 1D barcodes quickly and pairs with most any device on the market. And with the ability to scan on LCD screens, the MS910 becomes a great option for ticketing applications. Rather than have a giant mobile computer, venues can use the MS910 and a smaller mobile computer or even a paired PC nearby to scan both paper tickets and etickets. I know Amtrak is using mobile computers to scan passenger tickets, so this could be a viable option.

Given that you’re reading this, you exist on the internet and have undoubtedly heard Apple’s iPhone 5 and 5th gen iPod Touch will come equipped with the new Lightning connector, replacing the older dock connector that’s been around for quite some time. While the connector sounds intriguing and should provide more space in iDevices for things like radios and laserbeams, it does put a hurt on an already growing mobile POS platform.

We sell some great mobile barcode scanners and mobile card readers, adding more whenever there’s time, and many of these use the dock connector. For some of the products, such as the MagTek iDynamo and Mobilogics iScan, the adapter should work to provide a stop gap until the peripherals are updated, but it does extend out the peripheral and increases the risk for damage to the iPhone or iPod.

However, there are some sled devices, most notably the Honeywell Captuvo, that currently lock in around 4th gen iPod Touches. In these instances, the adapter won’t fit, limiting your options to hoarding 4th gen iPod Touches until they also adjust the connector.

While this development is far from the end of iOS-based mobile POS, it does hamper the growth of this relatively new market. Many of our customers have had tremendous interest in using their iPhone or iPod to manage inventory or ring up customers, and we’ll just have a short span of time while peripheral manufacturers catch up. This is the first time for me, though, where Apple’s strong secrecy around new products has directly affected my work.

So I’ve already made my claims to the problems with trying to use a cell phone camera as a barcode scanner. Mostly in that it’s lame and not good for more than a couple scans here and there. But we’re still getting customers with iPhones who want to track their inventory with the phone. So after much consternation, and two searches on Google for “iPhone Barcode Scanner”, we’ve got a couple units that should do what you need.

First up is the Socket Cordless Hand Scanner (CHS) Series 7 barcode scanner. Talk about a Socket CHS Series 7 Barcode Scannermouthful. We’ve actually had the CHS up on our site for a few years, but recently they upgraded the apparatus to run in human interface device (HID) mode with a special barcode you scan to configure it to communicate with iPhones, iPads, and iPods Touch (iPod Touches?) There’s also a method for it to work with Blackberries, so the CHS is a solid, rechargeable alternative to the Cipherlab 1660 barcode scanner.

This scanner comes with in 3 body designs: Standard for day to day use, rugged for rougher environments, and a rugged antimicrobial housing for healthcare applications. Tracking patient info is getting to be more important everyday, and giving employees the option to use this scanner with a smartphone they already own seems like a great alternative to buying an entirely new device. You also get your choice of standard or high-powered 1D laser or 2D imager as your scanning method, so the CHS 7 definitely can be scaled to meet your exact needs.

Not to be outdone, the Motorola CS3070, when in Bluetooth HID mode, also connects & Motorola CS3000 Barcode Scannercommunicates with iPhones. This is the combo batch & bluetooth scanner that replaced the aging CS1504 and can hold far more barcodes than is necessary while in batch mode.

Though it has only a 1D laser scanner option, the CS3070’s scanner is pretty burly. On a UPC-A barcode, what you see on pretty much every consumer product ever, I was able to scan from about 2 feet away with no problems. Motorola knows laser scanning, and the CS3070 is no exception.

We’re still hacking away on the demo units we have, in an effort to make setup as painless as possible.

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