Choosing the Most Suitable Handheld Scanning Device

The broad spectrum of handheld devices has significantly increased the choices available to clients. However, this makes selecting the most suitable device a challenge, with a number of key considerations to take into account. We believe that the primary considerations are:

  • Rugged vs Consumer
  • Total Cost of Ownership
  • How Long Are the Units to Be Deployed and Supported?
  • What Maintenance Support Options Might Be Required?

The question of rugged vs consumer isn't solely based upon the rugged device being more durable. Rugged devices also have a far greater production commitment from the manufacturers, typically spanning several years, with a further three years’ support after the end of life. The top-tier brands also have manufacturer-based contracts with strong offerings for turnaround and inclusive repair options.

Selecting a Handheld Data Terminal Device

First of all, we would loosely categorise handheld terminals into two groups:

1. In-Premise – For Use in Warehouses, Factories, or Hospitals - Typically Working in a Wi-Fi™-Enabled Environment

2. Mobile Worker – For Users out in the Field, Such as Delivery Drivers, Engineers, Utility Workers, Meter Readers, or Healthcare Providers - Devices Typically Require GPRS/3G Communications

1. In-Premise Handheld Devices - Usually Key-Dominant Style i.e. Larger Keypad Area
Selection Criteria:

• Scan Engine - Short Range or near and Far (Will Read Close up and Long Range) - 1D and/or 2D Barcodes
• Keyboard - Numeric or Alphanumeric (Also, Are Large Keys Required for Gloved-Hand Use?)
• Pistol Grip or 'Brick' Style
• Environment/Conditions – Temperature, Dust, indoor or outdoor (LXE™, for Instance, Have Freezer-Rated Devices While Others Are IP67 Rated)
• Is a Camera Required? E.g. to Capture Damaged Goods or Oversized Deliveries
• Handheld or Fork Truck Use
• Software - Most Wi-Fi™ Devices Use a Terminal Emulation Client
• Wireless Coverage - RF Site Survey Recommended to Ensure Performance

2. Mobile Devices - Usually a PDA Form Factor Selection Criteria:

• Scan Engine - Usual Choice in a PDA Unit Is 1D and/or 2D
• Keyboard - Numeric or Alphanumeric
• Vehicle Use or Is the Unit to Be Carried for Long Periods? Considerations Include Battery Life Required and Weight/Size (Some Units Are Lighter and Smaller Than Others)
• Is GPS Required for Satellite Navigation? (Although This Is Becoming More Standard on PDA Devices)
• Software - Consider Applications Required - Introduce an ISV (We Are Able to Recommend Several)
• What Installation Considerations Are There? In-Vehicle Cradle Installation or Power from Cigarette Lighter or Vehicle Battery?

Additional Considerations:
• Is There a Portable Printing Requirement? Either Receipts or Labels?

• What Are the Maintenance Contract Options?