USB vs Bluetooth Barcode Scanners – Which One is Better?

usb vs bluetooth barcode scanners

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Barcode scanners are reliable tools for numerous industrial and commercial applications. They assist in tracking and identification of goods and services in various industries, from healthcare to retail.

With technological advancements, barcode scanners have different connectivity options, with USB and Bluetooth being the most popular. Although both types of scanners provide the same basic function, they do differ in their features and capabilities.  

This blog post will help you understand the key differences between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners. We will introduce each scanner and its major differences and highlight the key factors to consider when choosing between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners. 

By the end, you’ll know how to decide when to select the most suitable barcode scanner for your specific requirements. 

So, let’s dive in and explore more about USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners.

Discover the diverse types of barcode scanners in our comprehensive article. Also, learn about their functionalities and applications.

Understanding USB Barcode Scanners

List of five features of USB Scanners

USB scanners are wired barcode scanners that connect to a host device, such as a computer, through a USB interface. These scanners rely on USB connections for power supply, communication, and data transfer of the barcode information. 

Unlike standalone devices, USB scanners have no internal processor or memory. As a result, they always require a host device to function correctly.

Since USB barcode scanners are directly connected to a host device, they provide a fast data transfer solution, with speeds reaching up to 12 megabytes per second. Some models even come with stands, enabling hands-free scanning operations.

Using a USB barcode scanner is straightforward and requires minimal setup. Simply plug the scanner into a USB port, install the necessary drivers and software, and you’re ready to start scanning. Opting for a USB scanner provides users with a similar performance as a wireless barcode scanner but at a more affordable price.

USB barcode scanners have become indispensable tools for businesses seeking to streamline data capture and improve operational efficiency. Whether in retail stores, logistics, healthcare, or other industries, USB barcode scanners are vital in optimising workflows and enabling businesses to stay competitive in today’s data-driven world.

Visit Triton’s USB barcode scanner home page to browse through our collection of USB scanners. 

Understanding Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

Five characteristics of Bluetooth scanners

Bluetooth scanners are portable, wireless barcode scanners that use Bluetooth technology to connect wirelessly with various devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. These scanners come with integrated processors and memory, allowing them to be used without a host device.  

Bluetooth barcode scanners are known for quick data transfer speeds, typically reaching a maximum of about 2.1 megabytes per second. Bluetooth barcode scanners facilitate real-time data capture and processing, leading to improved workflow efficiency and minimising delays in data transfer.

Setting up a Bluetooth barcode scanner is a straightforward process. It involves establishing a Bluetooth connection between the scanner and the host device. Once the pairing is completed, the scanner is ready to scan barcodes, and the captured data is instantly transferred to the connected device for further processing.

Bluetooth barcode scanners find applications across various industries. These scanners are commonly used in retail for inventory management, price verification, and point-of-sale operations.

Visit Triton’s Bluetooth barcode scanner home page to view our selection of top-notch Bluetooth scanners.

Bluetooth vs USB barcode Scanners - What's the Difference?

Now that we have understood both USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners, let’s delve into the key differences between Bluetooth and USB barcode scanners. We have differentiated the two scanners based on. 

  • Connectivity
  • Mobility
  • Compatibility
  • Power Source
  • Ease of Use
  • Interference
  • Cost and Maintenance


Regarding connectivity, USB barcode scanners rely on a physical connection, requiring a direct link to the device through a USB cable. This simple and straightforward connectivity makes USB scanners easy to set up and use, as the connected device generally recognises them as USB input devices. 

On the other hand, Bluetooth barcode scanners offer wireless connectivity through Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth scanners can connect to devices that support Bluetooth, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. 

However, Bluetooth scanners require initial pairing and setup to communicate with the target device, which may involve configuring Bluetooth settings.

Difference in connectivity between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners
Points on difference in mobility between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners


Due to their reliance on a physical connection, USB barcode scanners offer limited mobility. They are typically bound by the length of the USB cable, which restricts movement and is less convenient when scanning barcodes from a distance or moving around is required. 

In contrast, Bluetooth barcode scanners excel in terms of mobility. By leveraging wireless connectivity through Bluetooth technology, these scanners offer greater freedom of movement. 


USB barcode scanners are generally compatible with a wide range of devices with USB ports. The devices include desktop computers, laptops, and specific mobile devices that support USB connectivity. 

Bluetooth barcode scanners can connect to devices that come with Bluetooth capabilities. Bluetooth scanners provide more flexibility in terms of compatibility, as they can relate to various devices without relying on a physical connection. However, ensuring that the scanner is compatible with the Bluetooth version and profiles supported by the target device is important.

Point of comparison on compatibility between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners
Contrast in power source between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners

Power Source

The power source is an important aspect to consider when comparing USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners. 

USB barcode scanners draw power directly from the device they are connected to through the USB port. This eliminates the need for a separate power source, making them convenient and easy to use. The USB scanner draws power as long as it remains connected to the device, ensuring continuous operation without needing battery replacements or recharging.

Bluetooth barcode scanners, on the other hand, rely on battery power. They are equipped with rechargeable batteries that need to be recharged before usage.

Ease of Use

USB barcode scanners are generally straightforward, with a simple plug-and-play setup. They are recognised by the connected device as USB input devices, requiring minimal configuration or additional software installation. Once connected, they are ready for immediate use, making them convenient and user-friendly. 

Although Bluetooth barcode scanners require initial pairing and setup, they provide added convenience and flexibility once connected. The pairing process involves configuring the Bluetooth settings on both the scanner and the host device.

Contrast in ease of use between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners
Dissimilarity in interference between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners


USB barcode scanners operate through a physical connection, which means they are not susceptible to interference from other devices. The direct wired connection ensures a stable and reliable scanning experience unaffected by external factors or competing signals.

Bluetooth scanners operate wirelessly in the 2.4 GHz range, shared with WiFi routers, smartphones, and other Bluetooth devices. As a result, Bluetooth scanners are vulnerable to interference from other devices on the same frequency.   

When the barcode scanner faces this interference, it leads to signal degradation or total signal loss. This can adversely impact scanning, resulting in missed or misinterpreted barcode scans.

However, advanced features like frequency hopping and adaptive frequency selection help mitigate interference and maintain a stable connection.

Cost and Maintenance

USB barcode scanners generally have a lower cost compared to Bluetooth scanners. 

USB scanners have fewer components and moving parts, which reduces the likelihood of mechanical failures. Maintenance for these scanners usually involves occasional cable replacements, which are inexpensive and easy to obtain. 

While offering wireless convenience, Bluetooth barcode scanners generally come with a higher upfront cost. Bluetooth technology and components increase manufacturing and production costs, contributing to a higher price point. 

Maintenance for Bluetooth scanners typically includes ensuring that the batteries are adequately charged and replaced as necessary. Additional maintenance may involve firmware updates or troubleshooting connectivity issues, depending on the scanner model.

Two points each on cost and maintenance between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between USB and Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

Five points to consider for choosing between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners

When choosing between USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners, there are several factors to consider based on your business requirements and workflow. Here are some key considerations listed below.

  • Business requirements and workflow 
  • Mobility needs and range of operation 
  • Integration with existing systems and devices 
  • Cost-effectiveness and budget considerations

Business Requirements and Workflow

Assess your business needs and the workflow in which the barcode scanner will be used. Consider factors such as the volume of scanning, the environment (indoor or outdoor), and the scanning distance required.

USB scanners are better suited for fixed workstations, indoor applications, and moderate scan volume. But, if your business requires on-the-go scanning, outdoor usage, and high scan volume, Bluetooth scanners are the ideal solution. 

Mobility Needs and Range of Operation

Evaluate whether mobility is a crucial factor for your barcode scanning operations. 

Bluetooth scanners offer wireless connectivity, allowing greater freedom of movement within a specific range. Bluetooth scanners may be more suitable if your scanning tasks require flexibility and the ability to move around. 

On the other hand, USB scanners are typically tethered to a computer via a cable. This means that they are physically tethered to the computer and cannot move freely beyond the length of the cable. This limitation may reduce mobility and flexibility in certain operational scenarios. 

Integration With Existing Systems and Devices

Consider the compatibility and integration capabilities of the barcode scanner with your existing systems and devices. 

USB scanners usually connect directly to a computer or POS system, making them easier to integrate into existing setups. 

Bluetooth scanners can connect to various devices, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets, providing more versatility in terms of integration options.

Cost-Effectiveness and Budget Considerations

Evaluate your budget and the total cost of ownership. 

USB barcode scanners are cost-effective initially due to their lower price point. However, Bluetooth scanners are the way to go for mobile and flexible operations. 

Use Cases and Examples

Four use cases of USB and Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners are widely used in various industries for efficient data capture and automation. Here are some specific use cases and examples of how these scanners are employed.

Retail Industry

In the retail industry, USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners are connected to the POS system to quickly scan the product’s barcode during checkout, ensuring accurate pricing and inventory updates. 

Event Management

USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners scan barcoded tickets at events, concerts, or conferences, allowing quick and efficient access control. These scanners manage event entry and exit points, scanning attendee badges or wristbands to ensure authorised access to specific areas.

Warehouse and Logistics

USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners assist in tracking inventory movements, updating inventory databases, facilitating stock replenishment, and minimising errors in picking and packing operations within a warehouse. 

Healthcare Sector

USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners scan patient wristbands or identification cards, ensuring accurate identification and reducing the risk of medical errors. These scanners help healthcare professionals provide the proper medication to the right patient at the right time, reducing medication errors and enhancing patient safety.

Pros and Cons of USB Barcode Scanners

Let’s explore the pros and cons of using USB barcode scanners.

Set-Up: To start using a USB scanner, plug it into the computer’s USB port. The computer will recognise the device, and you can begin scanning items immediately
Configuration: Issues can arise such as random turning off or users needing to press the Enter key
Power: USB scanners are powered by a USB connection.
Immobility: Limited to the length of the cable connecting the device, typically around 1.5 metres
USB technology: Convenient, fast and secure
Port: Requires a USB port for connectivity and power
Cost: Less expensive
Cables: Rely on USB wires for connection, and these cables wear and tear over time, potentially requiring replacement
Tethered Device: Stays connected with the host device, hence minimises the chance of theft and lost

Pros and Cons of Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

Let’s explore the pros and cons of using Bluetooth barcode scanners.

Freedom of Movement: Operates wirelessly and can scan objects up to 30 metres from the paired device
Power: Requires batteries, limiting its usage duration
Scan Stationery Items: Can scan stationary or non-easily movable items like big boxes or heavy equipment like AC, TVs etc.
Cost: More expensive
Connection: No Requirement for an external port
Interference: Susceptible to external interference from other devices and WiFi signals
Setup: No drivers are required; Can be paired with Bluetooth. Once the device is paired, the computer will recognise it, allowing scanning immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can USB and Bluetooth Barcode Scanners Be Used Simultaneously With the Same Device?

Yes, using USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners simultaneously with the same device is possible. 

To use both USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners simultaneously, you must ensure that your device supports multiple connections and has the necessary drivers or software to manage both scanners.

You need to configure your device to recognise and differentiate between the two scanners, assigning them unique identifiers or mapping them to specific applications or functions. This way, when you scan a barcode, the device can identify which scanner the input is coming from.

It’s worth noting that the specific steps to set up and use multiple barcode scanners simultaneously can vary depending on the operating system, device, and software you are using. 

Can USB Barcode Scanners Work With Mobile Devices Like Smartphones or Tablets?

USB barcode scanners can work with mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. Mobile devices now support USB On-The-Go (OTG) functionality. This feature allows the device to be a USB host, enabling it to connect to and communicate with USB peripherals like barcode scanners.

Do USB Barcode Scanners Require Any Additional Software Installation?

USB barcode scanners generally do not require additional software installation for basic functionality. They are designed to work as plug-and-play devices, meaning the operating system can recognise them without needing specific drivers or software.

When you connect a USB barcode scanner to a computer or compatible mobile device, the device’s operating system should detect the scanner as a standard input device, similar to a keyboard. As a result, the scanned barcode data will be inputted into any active application or field with focus, as if you were manually typing the barcode.

However, there may be cases where specialised software or drivers are necessary to enhance the functionality of the USB barcode scanner or enable advanced features. For example, certain industries or applications may require additional software for custom barcode formatting, data manipulation, or integration with specific software systems.

Final Thoughts

The USB vs Bluetooth barcode scanner debate highlights the importance of understanding each technology’s unique characteristics and considerations.

USB-wired scanners offer reliable and direct connectivity, making them ideal for fixed workstation setups that require a stable connection. On the other hand, Bluetooth wireless scanners provide the flexibility of wireless operation, allowing for mobility and ease of use in various environments.

Ultimately, the choice between a USB wired scanner and a Bluetooth wireless scanner depends on your preferences, workflow, and the nature of your scanning tasks. 

So, evaluate your specific needs, explore options, and embark on a barcode scanning journey that aligns perfectly with your requirements.

We hope this article was useful. 

Thanks for reading!

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