What is the best RFID hardware and reader currently available on the market?
Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer for you, because it depends on what your particular application is, and because we don't do benchmarking.
Let me explain.
Asking which RFID reader is best is a bit like asking which car is best. If you are looking for a car that goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour very quickly, then a Lamborghini might be your best bet. But if you want to take the wife, kids, in-laws and neighbors to the beach, a Lamborghini would likely not be the best option. Similarly, if you are trying to put a reader inside a cabinet, one interrogator might be great, but it might be totally useless around a dock door.
There are great companies that manufacture active RFID systems, and there are great companies that produce passive low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) systems. In general, the performance of most active systems is good, and you generally choose a system based on other factors, such as the read distance required, the location accuracy needed, whether you want a standards-based system, and whether the vendor sells both hardware and software.
Performance issues generally come up when discussing passive systems, for which a wide variety of factors can prevent tags from being read consistently. Generally speaking, performance questions are usually asked regarding UHF readers. LF and HF technologies are more mature, and performance is generally reliable for most applications.
It's difficult to say which passive UHF readers are best, because we have not conducted any benchmarking for interrogators, the way PCs get benchmarked against one another, and I have not seen reports from others who have performed extensive testing. Thus, we can not say that one reader outperforms another.
In general, I will say that I have not heard end users complain about any passive UHF readers from the major suppliers, such as Alien Technology, Feig Electronic GmbH, Impinj, Motorola, ThingMagic and so forth (when there are problems, most of the blame gets put on the tag).
—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal
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