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January 27, 2020 09:01 AM

Product Review: Top 5 RFID Scanners

To discuss the top or best RFID scanners is a very difficult issue because they are a form of identification and data reader that can be used in a diversity of settings. It is almost impossible to point towards the “best” individual device without first knowing what it is that you need the technology to do for you and your business. As an example:

Do you require the scanner to read and write data over a distance? That might mean you want to look for an RFID scanner with UHF technology since it can often send information wirelessly over several meters. If there is no need for sending data, an HF RFID scanner may be alright.

Will the scanner be close to any sort of conductive material like metal, carbon, dielectric or liquid materials? If so, the HF is less vulnerable to interference in the immediate area. However, consider your tag and code manufacturer as some will have UHF tags capable of operating well within any sort of environment. The same applies to tags in areas where there is a risk of EMI or electromagnetic interference. Assembly lines, conveyor belts and robotics can cause this sort of problem.

Are you doing bulk scans of 20+ tags at once? If so, the UHF is often far more capable of reading hundreds of tags at once, while the HF is often limited to less than two dozen.

Is that all you need to know before making the right choice in RFID scanners? No, you must also consider read range (how far from the code or RFID tag the scanner will be), the application and frequencies, and the system that will be put to work.

Because there are only a limited number of RFID scanners available, we’ve rounded up the top five names in RFID scanners. Your best bet is to look into their current lineup and be sure that it is aligned to your firm’s needs. As an example, consider:

Fixed or handheld or hands-free (or a combination)?

How far is the transmission?

Retail, warehouse, or more rugged setting?

UHF or HF bands?

What sort of barcodes or identification products are available? Any support with having the right designs and systems used?

As one organization noted, it can “be overwhelming choosing a specific RFID technology to solve a problem for your business. Oftentimes the companies that manufacturer RFID do not install this technology or provide training or guidance.” That is why you want to speak with a manufacturer of RFID labels or tags before committing to scanning technology.

Express makes an array of RFID tags and labels for every environment. Before you begin to choose your scanners, discuss your RFID needs and determine what sort of software, devices, and other solutions may be ideal. Whether it is a wristband for an event, a credential tag, a key fob tag, tag for a vehicle, or a durable tag encased in a rugged frame or designed for outdoor use, they can help you determine which scanning devices are more suited to your needs.

The Top 5 Names in RFID Scanners

Zebra – This is one of the biggest brands in RFID technologies and they have the full gamut of fixed, hands-free and handheld RFID scanners. They make devices suited to warehouses as well as to indoor and customer-facing applications.

Impinj – One of the most familiar names in RFID (as part of their RAIN platform), they are the ideal solution for RFID scanners put to use in healthcare, transportation, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. A major fixture in the emergence of the IoT or Internet of Things, they connect everyday items to applications through the use of multiple technologies, including RFID tags and scanners.

Alien Technology – Offering UHF and Gen-2 RFID readers, they are the right choice if your RFID tags are in extreme conditions, but are also a popular option for single product requirements.

Avery Dennison – Known for consumer products, they also make some of the most frequently chosen RFID scanners. When the emphasis is on retail and dispensing technologies that use RFID, they are a good choice.

Checkpoint – RF labels and hardware are a specialty of this retail-focused provider. They include grocery as well as traditional retail solutions and most of their scanning is through fixed devices.

You will also find a number of RFID readers ranking as the top or best in the marketplace. Taking some time to look at what the brands above make available is a good starting point. However, working with your RFID tag or label provider, such as the team at Express, can help you make more informed choices about hardware or scanner upgrades.