Scanning barcodes can be tiresome work. And it gets even more tedious when you have to lug around a mobile computer all day. Even when designed to keep the weight down, portable computers simply don’t offer the point-and-scan convenience of devices that the user can wear directly. The Zebra RS5100 Bluetooth Ring Scanner does. It attaches directly to the user’s hand and is the perfect way to scan 1D and 2D barcodes, with the information being sent directly to other devices via Bluetooth.
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Feeling as light as a feather and offering exceptional scanning capabilities, the Zebra RS5100 exists to make your employees’ lives easier. The Bluetooth range is impressive, too, as the user can go up to 300 feet away from the connected device and still scan and send information in seconds. It’s pure point-and-scan convenience in a user-friendly package.
Rating – 9.5/10
|2.67 x 0.83 x 1.10 Inches
|1,280 x 960 Pixels
|Most 1D and 2D Symbologies
|32 to 122 Degrees Fahrenheit
|Bluetooth and NFC “Tap to Pair”
|Class 1 and Class 2 Bluetooth 4.0
|Lithium-Ion 480mAh Standard or 735mAH Extended
|OCR-A and OCR-B
Pricing varies widely for the Zebra RS5100, with some suppliers offering it for around the $350 range while others charge closer to $850. Customizability may play into these pricing variations, as adding accessories increases the price, though it also makes your device more usable for your people. Speaking to an expert is key. An EE expert can provide a quote for the exact version of the RS5100 you need, along with accessories, so you get an accurate quote to relieve your budgetary concerns.
Pros and Cons
The most obvious benefit of the RS5100 lies in its portability. It’s so light that the user will barely feel it wrapped around their finger, allowing them to simply point at a barcode that requires scanning to pull information immediately. The drop protection is solid, too. You can drop the device onto a concrete floor from a distance of 6 feet (about the height of a person), and it should bounce back without any damage. The inclusion of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is a good touch. This allows you to scan images as well as barcodes, with the data collected being transferred into text information on the Bluetooth-linked device.
But that mention of a Bluetooth-linked device is also one of the RS5100’s biggest cons. This is nearly a scan-only device, with the small screen barely giving any information about the barcode scanned. It needs to be paired with a compatible device, which is easy to do but requires the user to carry an extra device or have somebody following them around with the connected device. While it’s nice to benefit from Zebra’s one-year warranty for the RS5100, it would have been nicer to get a longer warranty to reflect the company’s confidence in its rugged product.
Display, Cameras, and Scanners
The RS5100 has a high-definition 1,280 x 960-pixel display, though it’s small and only displays minimal information about the scanned item. Most of the information ports directly to a Bluetooth-connected device. The device also doesn’t come with a camera, which is no surprise given that it’s designed for a simple task, and a camera would add weight and be unusable.
However, it’s the RS5100’s scanning capabilities that make it stand out. On the barcode level, it’s capable of reading both 1D and 2D codes, covering most symbologies. These include Codes 39, 93, 11, and 128 for the 1D scanner, as well as several postal codes, PDF417 and Micro PDF147 in 2D scanning. That’s just a sample, as there are several more. The addition of OCR scanning is a major boon, too, as you can use OCR to scan dirty or damaged barcodes to pull information even if the 1D or 2D scanner can’t read the code.
Operating System and Programs
You don’t get an operating system (OS) in the traditional sense of the word with the RS5100. Instead, OS compatibility comes from pairing the device to a mobile computer, smartphone, or tablet. Assuming you have the right software installed on the paired device, the scanner sends barcode information immediately after scanning. Zebra recommends using one of its NFC-enabled devices, such as the TC52 handheld computer or the WT6300 computer, to achieve the best performance.
As for compatible software, the RS5100 is at its best when paired with a device running Zebra’s VisibilityIQ Foresight package. The software provides information about your RS5100’s health, using the data it collects to suggest better ways to use the scanner. Plus, it pulls any data scanned by the device into color-coded charts to ensure ease of reading and provide you with a way to gather actionable insights from the data your people gather.
How to Purchase the Zebra RS5100 Bluetooth Ring Scanner
The best recommendation for buying the Zebra RS5100 is simple – speak to an expert.
Not only can an expert guide you toward the right barcode scanning solution for your business (whether that’s the RS5100 or something else), but they can also explain more about how the scanner’s Bluetooth pairing functionality works. This ensures you have devices that are compatible with the scanner.
Markets and Applications
You have a simple question on your mind: when might you need a wearable barcode scanner? The following are just some of the markets and applications for which the RS5100 excels:
- Inventory Control – Whether it’s for warehousing, retail stock checks, or keeping track of goods as they move from one location to the next, barcode scanning is a requirement. It helps you to keep track of where your stock is (and how much of it you have), ultimately leading to better services provided to your customers.
- Healthcare – The healthcare sector may not seem like the most obvious market for barcode scanners until you think about inventory. The average hospital has thousands of items, from simple gauze and medicines to complex machinery, all of which it needs to track. Add patient identification functionality (barcodes can contain basic information about a patient used for quick scanning), and there’s a clear need.
- Home-Based Online Sellers – A home-based seller who only sells a couple of items per week likely doesn’t need a barcode scanner. But what if that seller grows to the point where they’re selling hundreds of items weekly? Barcodes and scanners help them to keep track of stock at the micro level so they’re not left with unhappy buyers.
- Error Reduction – The more human elements brought into inventory tracking, the more room for mistakes. Even the smallest handwriting quirks can lead to misunderstandings about what an item is and where it needs to go. Barcodes (and barcode scanners) eliminate that risk by standardizing the way you store data about your stock.
- Ticket Verification – A concert held by a major pop star could attract tens of thousands of people. Using barcodes on tickets gives you a way to confirm the legitimacy of those tickets. With the RS5100 ring scanner, you get a device that security personnel can wear to quickly scan and confirm ticket validity to keep queues short and people flowing.
Zebra RS5100 Bluetooth Ring Scanner Review
If you’re still not sure if the Zebra RS5100 is right for your business, this review of its top features explores what the device offers beyond its general specifications.
Tap and Pair Anywhere
There’s no beating convenience.
Convenience is what you get in spades with the RS5100 thanks to its NFC technology. As long as you have a pairing device that also has NFC functionality, you simply tap the RS5100 on the device, and voila. The devices are paired.
Once paired, you can move up to 300 feet away from the other device, giving you complete flexibility to scan multiple items around your warehouse without worrying about breaking the connection. And, of course, traditional Bluetooth pairing is possible if your other device isn’t NFC-compatible.
Mount the RS5100 on Your Way
Don’t let the term “ring scanner” fool you. Yes, the RS5100 comes with a finger mount that’s ideal for anybody who wants to simply point and scan barcodes. But if finger mounts aren’t your thing, or you have dexterity issues that make them unusable, Zebra also provides a pair of hand mounts that still let you point and scan while leaving your fingers free for other activities.
That flexibility extends to lanyards, which allow you to attach the RS5100 to your wrist or neck rather than physically wearing it. Then, there are the trigger options. Opting for a single trigger lets you rotate the trigger left and right, making switching hands simple. A double trigger makes switching hands even easier, whereas the top trigger lets you turn the device to your finger’s side so you don’t have to worry about it protruding from the top of your hand. Whatever way you want to wear the RS5100, Zebra has come up with a configuration that works for you.
Let LEDs Guide the Way
Check the back of the RS5100, and you’ll see a quarter of RBG LEDs. These are programmable lights that you can alter to tell you what’s happening with the device. On the simplest level, you can program the lights to flash a certain color when you make a successful scan, providing at-a-glance confirmation that you can move on to your next barcode.
Alternatively, try programming the lights to flash when the battery is low or when you’re moving out of range of your paired device. Whatever you need from an LED-based notification system, the RS5100 can provide.
Tough and Durable Throughout
Let’s face it – warehouses aren’t the most secure environments for delicate devices. Hard concrete floors and plenty of potential for scrapes and knocks combine to create cracked screens and broken cases.
Neither are problems for the RS5100.
Zebra has designed the scanner to be rugged. It can handle drops up to 6 feet on hard concrete floors (as well as up to 1,000 1.64 feet tumbles), and it can even take a high-pressure water blast and keep on ticking. Couple that with strong nylon fasteners and a metal buckle, both made to last longer than traditional hook-and-loop fasteners, and you get a scanner that withstands impacts and stays connected to your finger (or hand).
Power and Batteries
You get two battery choices with the RS5100 – a standard 480mAh battery or an extended 735mAh version.
Both are lithium-ion batteries that are rechargeable and long-lasting. Zebra’s specification sheet states that the 480mAh battery lasts for about 12 hours of continuous use, during which time you should be able to complete 14,400 scans. The 735mAh battery isn’t quite double the size, but it should last about 20 hours and deliver around 22,000 scans before it needs recharging.
Accessories and Add-Ons
The RS5100 alone is a powerful enough proposition for those who want mobile barcode scanning capabilities. But you can enhance the package with several accessories and add-ons designed to improve usability and hygiene or to simplify recharging batteries.
- Additional Triggers – Zebra understands that not everybody feels comfortable sharing a trigger with other people for hygiene reasons. It accommodates this by creating a two-piece assembly with the RS5100, with the second piece being a removable trigger. You can buy individual triggers for each staff member to eliminate any hygiene concerns.
- High-Capacity ShareCradles – ShareCradles are portable charging devices that come in 20 and 40-scanner varieties. Using them makes it easier to charge your fleet of RS5100s in one place rather than having to rely on dozens of tangled USB cords.
- Lanyard – If you’d rather carry the RS5100 around your neck or on your wrist, Zebra’s lanyards give you that choice.
- Hand Mounts – Both the enterprise hand mount and back-of-hand mount give your people more options when it comes to wearing the RS5100.
- Single-Finger Mount – The mount that gives the RS5100 its “ring scanner” name, this single-finger mount offers top, single, and double trigger options.
Talk to an Expert
By now, you may have decided that the Zebra RS5100 (or even several of them) is the right choice for your business. But don’t rush into buying. Speaking to an expert first helps you to confirm that the RS5100 is the right scanner for your business, in addition to getting you set up with the appropriate additional devices and software configuration you need. That’s where the Energy Electronics team comes in. Request a quote from us, and we’ll be in contact within one business hour.