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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Part of the fun of being a product manager is getting to know manufacturer reps. These guys & gals live and breathe their product line, and they’re more than happy to extol the virtues of their new fantastic product. I figure there’s either some kool aid involved, or the smell of new plastics has some sort of mind altering effect, because they exhibit a level of exuberance I’m more accustomed to seeing at a Disney theme park.

The reps seem to enjoy picking my brain about products as well. A few have said that often times we have a view of what our customers need that might not line up with other resellers or developers. Twelve cell phone radios might not be what our customers need. But sometimes a product comes out that so specifically hits our main user base that we know it’s going to be a knockout even when it’s just a 3D render and a few buzzwords.

The Motorola CS3070 barcode scanner is one such item. For the longest time, Motorola/Symbol (or Motorymbol if you dig synergy) had been manufacturing & shipping out the CS1504, a batch barcode scanner that ran on a few watch batteries and looked like something you’d find at the bottom of a toy chest. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t designed to take the market by storm, but it was a good and inexpensive way for businesses and consumers to scan a ton of barcodes and output them into a spreadsheet. We sold our share of them, and customers really liked the fact that you could perform basic inventory management for under $400.

But the scanner was pretty lacking and showing its age. The scan engine was an older model that seemed underpowered compared to its cabled brethren, 3 disposable watch batteries really doesn’t scream environmentally friendly, it was very much something that needed some refreshing. And whenever our rep came to visit, we’d mention that if they put together a newer unit, with a rechargeable battery, we could probably move a few. And so they did, and in a big way.

The Motorola CS3070 takes entry level batch scanning and makes it easier than you could imagine. Because people often imagine scanning tons of barcodes and exporting it to something else. They’ve built it with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that charges over USB no sweat. It’s available in two flavors, straight up batch data sending and Bluetooth. The Bluetooth model acts as a regular cordless scanner, or it can send batch data over USB like its radio-less partner.

What sets it apart from the Opticon OPN 2002 is that the CS3070 has 512 MB of flash memory. Motorola claims that’s enough memory to store over 1 million barcodes and timestamps, however the OPN 2002 can store around 20,000 with its 1 MB of memory. I did some a little math, because math is fun, and with a straight comparison, 512 MB could theoretically store 10.2 million barcodes. Possibly. I don’t know who has that many barcodes, but it’s a possibility.

TheĀ  CS3000 actually mounts as a USB device, so you can grab the barcodes manually and not have to install a bunch of drivers. And because the CS3070 mounts as a flash drive, you can install software onto it, and after setting up an autorun file on the unit, whenever you plug it in it’ll run the apps you need. So now instead of having one computer that syncs your devices, the device does all the work. I could see this being a fantastic solution for businesses who have gift registries and multiple checkstands. You don’t have to wait for the licensed computer to be open; the license travels with the device.

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