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Internet Bookselling News & Views, Issue #007 - PDA Barcode Scanners
November 05, 2012

November 4, 2012

I'm in the market for barcode wireless scanners. But over the last four years or so the number of vendors actually manufacturing PDA scanning devices has dwindled to just one.

We'll get to them in a minute.

That leaves the used and refurbished market for scouting tools as well as the last of the new devices from discontinued products lines now sold by closeout dealers.

When I started using my bar code scanner sales soared. I've come to rely so heavily on these devices that it very sad to see the PDA industry dying this way.

But all things change and as SmartPhone devices become more popular with their real-time price look-up capabilities, older technologies get pushed aside. Even if PDAs really are faster and more reliable.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Dell

So far I've owned four Dell Axim x51's and two HP iPAQ 210's. I purchased one Dell and one HP new, and the rest of my barcode wireless scanners were used.

Right off the bat, let me tell you that my experiences with used equipment have been disastrous.

Two of the used Dell devices failed soon after I purchased them from Amazon 3rd party sellers. One I was able to return for a refund, the other I was stuck with because the 30-day return period had lapsed by a couple of weeks.

I originally purchased them to use as a second handheld book scanner and two backups. Miraculously, one of the used Dell devices still functions years later, along with the Dell device I purchased new.

They've both been work horses. And I've come to realize that I lucked out with the used PDA that still works because it was a newer device.

The moral of this story is I'll never buy used PDAs again. It's pretty much a crapshoot and a hassle to return defective merchandise.

Avoid the HP iPAQ

I've owned two iPAQ barcode wireless scanners, one new and one used.

The new device lasted a good year before it failed. One day it just stopped booting. I thought if might be the battery, so I replaced it. But it did not good.

As far as the used iPAQ goes, it failed right out of the box. Again, used PDAs are just too risky for me to fool with.

That's a shame because I rally liked the iPAQ. It had a nice big display, it felt good in my hand, and it had lots of programmable buttons.

The problem is the thing just doesn't last. At least mine didn't. But then again, I'm a heavy user. I mean six to ten hours a day, six days a week heavy.

Still, not only will I not buy another used iPAQ, I won't buy a new one either.

The Last PDA Standing

That brings us to the vaunted "SoMo 650/655" series of barcode wireless scanners. It's the only device that I'm aware of that still being manufactured.

It has a ruggedized construction and it's loaded with features. That's because these babies were designed for business mobility applications, including sales force automation, inventory management, patient care, merchandising, and asset management.

The SoMo has great optics. You can see for yourself at this "SoMo 655 Wireless Handheld Computer" link. (Yes, that's an affiliate link. If you're inclined to buy one, I'd appreciate it if you bought it through me.)

It's a fascinating device, and at $600 a pop it's not exactly one of the least expensive options available to booksellers. I came close to buying one when an alternative strategy for purchasing a low cost bar code scanner hit me out of the blue.

My PDA Strategy Today

When manufactures like Dell and HP discontinue a product line, they like to unload all of their remaining inventory to closeout operations, much like how publishers unload book remainders to remainder dealers.

What a concept! I started hunting around for band new Dell barcode wireless scanners being sold by 3rd Part sellers. And I found a fair number for 1/3 the cost of what they were new and being sold by Dell itself.

My Plan? Well it's pretty simple. I can expect a brand new Dell Axim x51 to last three to five years (my current device is closing in on six years now).

And if the new SoMo last six to eight years, then I can buy two or three Dell devices for the same money I'd pay for a SoMo and get two times as much lifetime usage.

Closeout dealers are selling brand new Dell PDAs for around $200. I can buy two of them, plus a spare SocketScanner for another $200 and be set for the next 10 years or more. I can start using one device right away, and store the second one until I need it.

Click the following link if you want to buy a new Dell Axim x51 on the cheap.

There are only so many of these units left, and once they're gone, you're stuck with either used or refurbished barcode wireless scanners, neither of which I'll touch. Although, you might be a bit safer with the refurbished variety so long as the provider offers a decent warranty.

Good hunting.


Nov 01, 2012
Buy Postage Online for Savings and Convenience

When you buy postage online you solve a multitude of problems. Nearly everyone has come across a situation where they needed stamps, but either they didn't have them or couldn't find them anywhere.

To read the full blog post click here: Buy Postage Online

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Nov 02, 2012
Free Web Advertising For Your Bookstore!

Are you looking for free web advertising to expand your business without reaching deep into your pocketbook? If you own a bookstore, supply books to different clients or perhaps you are a vendor…

To read the full blog post click here: Free Web Advertising

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Nov 03, 2012
Should Used Book Dealers Hire Book Scouts?

Sooner or later used book dealers start looking for ways to grow their business faster. That's because as a one man or one woman operation there's only so far you can go until you reach a state of…

To read the full blog post click here: Used Book Dealers Hire Help


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Joe Waynick
Bookseller, Author, Mentor
Internet Bookselling Made Easy! How to Earn a Living Selling Used Books
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