Can you provide some requirements that a handheld should meet, and also recommend the top two or three models currently on the market?
There are a number of aspects you should consider when purchasing a handheld reader. The first is whether you plan to use it within an industrial environment or a carpeted space, such as a retail sales floor or office. If the former is the case, then you will need an industrial handheld that can withstand being dropped from a few feet onto concrete.
Another issue is ergonomics. Do you want something lightweight and easy to control for scanning thousands of items, or do you need a unit that can interrogate fewer tags but can reach cases on the top shelf of a warehouse rack?
At present, there are a wide variety of form factors available, and you will want to choose a form factor that fits your particular application. If you plan to attend RFID Journal LIVE! 2014—our 12th annual conference and exhibition, being held in Orlando, Fla., on Apr. 8-10—you will find exhibitors offering everything from heavy-duty industrial handhelds to ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) readers small enough to clip onto a keychain. You can turn a smartphone into an RFID reader, and you can take existing bar-code handhelds and add RFID functionality to them, in order to maximize your investment in your existing mobile devices.
You might want a handheld that supports applications running on a device. You might want it to also read bar codes, and be able to connect to your Wi-Fi network to upload data. And, of course, you will want to make sure it has a decent battery life.
Given all of these parameters that you need to consider, it would not really be possible to say which are among the top two or three handhelds on the market. I can say that Motorola handheld readers are among the best-selling and are used in many deployments—both their industrial models and their readers designed for carpeted spaces. And handhelds from Convergence Systems Ltd. (CSL) often get high marks for performance. So you might want to check those out.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal