Question: Can I scan barcodes with my smartphone?
Answer: Yes! It’s super easy!
There are many ways this can be done from a technological perspective, but by far the fastest, easiest, and most reliable way to scan barcodes into your smartphone is to get yourself a good, quality, Bluetooth-enabled barcode scanner.
After thoroughly evaluating many options, I can wholeheartedly recommend the TMCT-10 Barcode Scanner from Teemi. This one wins hands down. The scanner works with virtually any device: all version of Windows going back to XP, iOS, Mac, and Android.
You can either plug it in to a computer with the included USB cable, or pair it over Bluetooth with your phone or tablet. The scanner has a built-in charger, so you just plug it in when you’re not using it. Because of its on-board battery, this is a truly mobile solution when being used with a Smartphone. You no longer have to be tethered to a work station to sign people in; wherever there is a 3G or 4G network, which is pretty much everywhere these days, you can sign people in.
Setting up the scanner is super easy. The instructions come with a set of barcodes which you’ll need to scan before using the scanner for the first time, in order to initialize it. Then, go to the Bluetooth settings of your smartphone and type in the “pairing code” listed in the instructions. And that’s it. You can now start scanning barcodes and checking people in to Best Attendance.
One thing to be aware of is that if you want to use your phone’s regular keyboard, you’ll need to un-pair the device (just go to your Bluetooth settings to do this). While it’s paired, the barcode scanner assumes that it is the only input device for your phone.
Question: What about the alternatives?
Most barcode scanners do not work with smartphones. The TMCT-10 model that we recommend works with virtually any device. It’s truly mobile, as it runs off a rechargable battery. It’s easy to use. And best of all, it’s fast.
It’s possible to find less expensive scanners in the $30-$40 range, but aside from not being able to connect with smartphones, these scanners are slower. If you have a line of students waiting to get in to a game or a class, you don’t want to wait around for your barcode scanner. Spend the extra $40 or so, and get a quality device so your students don’t have to stand in line so long.
We also looked into using the smartphone’s camera as the barcode scanner. With current technology, this is even more painful. First, you need to install an app onto your phone which sets up an alternate keyboard on your phone. Then, you have to change your settings to switch to this alternate keyboard. To scan a barcode, you first need to press a special key on this new keyboard, which activates your camera. You line up a horizontal red line on your screen with the barcode and wait about two seconds for your camera to auto-focus. Again, with a long line of students waiting to check-in, this option would be pretty painful.
As technology changes, we’ll continue to evaluate the various software and hardware options for scanning barcodes on a smartphone. But for now, you can’t go wrong with the TMCT-10 Barcode Scanner; it’s what we recommend to all of our clients.
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