I would encourage any of our readers who have faced this issue to post about it below. In the meantime, to answer your question, I reached out to James E. Heurich, the president of RFID Inc., a company that manufactures high-frequency (HF) readers. Here is his response:
“LF [low-frequency] readers (and readers at all other frequencies) are no different from other products—be they electronics or cars or clothing—in terms of quality. There are high-end readers of great integrity, and there are low-end readers that have less functionality and poorer performance. RFID Inc. could build a low-end reader using a single reader chip, but it would not perform as well as a reader with discrete components on a printed circuit board. It would have a poorer read range and read speed, and be more susceptible to interference from other readers nearby.
“Anybody can go to the Web site of Texas Instruments or Atmel and download a schematic for a basic RFID reader, but high-end RFID engineering companies would consider those toys, and that’s OK for some applications. We sell both. A reader at a gas pump or NFC [Near Field Communication] tap-and-go doesn’t need much range or speed, but it does need to be inexpensive and small. A great deal more intellectual property goes into high-end readers, such as the modulation, divide-by rate, and imbedded code (firmware), which greatly impact a reader’s performance. An example of high-end networkable readers capable of achieving a tag read every 12.5 milliseconds in very close proximity to one another (they can be mounted on metal without degradation of performance) can be viewed in this video.”
I highly recommend that you watch the video, as it shows the strength of LF systems for some applications. If you would like to
e-mail me the name of the HF reader company you used, I will share that information with James privately, and he might be able to offer some tips for improving performance.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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