Reliable Barcode Wireless Scanners
for Serious Book Scouters

By Joe Waynick
November 8, 2012

replacement bar code scanners
Click to buy
barcode scanners

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

We'll get to them in a minute.

That leaves me with 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 of my used books on eBay and Amazon soared. I've come to rely so heavily on these devices that it saddens me 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. Unfortunately, this is happening even though PDA bar code scanners really are faster and more reliable.

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 it might be the battery, so I replaced it. But it did no good.

The HP iPAQ proved to be a highly unreliable device for me. I cannot recommend purchasing an iPAQ in good conscience.

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 really 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. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. Burn me three times, and I just plain deserve it! I don't plan on being burned a third time.

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's still being manufactured, and it may well be one of the best barcode scanners ever made.

SoMo655 PDA Socket Scanner
Click to buy a

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 a barcode scanner, 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. I want to share it with you because I still think it's the way to go.

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.

Dell Axim x51 with Socket Scanner
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Dell Axim x51

What a concept! I started hunting around for brand 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 a new SoMo were to 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.

Socket Scan Card (CFSC) 5e
Click to buy a
Socket Scan Card

You'll also need to buy a Socket Scan Card (CFSC) 5e to plug into the top of the PDA, as shown in the picture above.

(Again, those are affiliate links. Maintaining my website is expensive, and if you're going to buy a barcode scanner, you can help keep this site alive if you bought it through one of my links.)

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.

However, once all of the new devices are gone you might be a bit safer with the refurbished variety so long as the provider offers a decent warranty and you can still buy the essential barcode scanner parts necessary to get maximum value from your equipment.

But if I were you, I wouldn't wait too long. Like I said, once the existing supply is exhausted, these units are gone forever.

Buy two and put one in storage. If you can't afford that, then at a minimum buy one now and get to work learning how to sell books. Then buy a backup as soon as you can afford it. You'll be glad you did.

Good hunting.

* * * * *

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Need to communicate with a Dell scanner user in Brooklyn, New York. Not rated yet
Original Comment: March 4, 2015 I just leased (Dell) scanner a week ago and can’t operate it, (such as) downloading, etc. I really don’t want …

Questions About Dell Axim Performance... Not rated yet
Original Comment: June 8, 2013 Hi Joe, I unexpectedly was provided with the financial wherewithal today to buy a bar code scanner, an up-to-date …

Dell Axim Not rated yet
Hi. Wow. Very informative article. I am in possession of a Dell Axim X51v. Debating about actually purchasing it. Would love to get into business of selling …

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Click this image to learn about the Dell PDA with barcode scanner attachment

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Click this image to learn about the Socket Scan Card for your PDA

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Socket Scan
Card is best!