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Best Zebra Barcode Scanner 2024: Our Top 5 Scanners

Keep track of your inventory with a barcode scanner from Zebra
Last Updated on March 28, 2024
Best Zebra Barcode Scanner

Zebra is one of the biggest and most popular companies in the barcode scanner industry, and they’ve built their reputation as a reliable manufacturer of sturdy scanners with excellent quality control. As such, finding the best Zebra barcode scanner isn’t as straightforward a task as one might think. As impressive as it is to have the countless options that Zebra provides, it can make finding the right warehouse scanning solution for your business a difficult task. 

To help, we’ve compiled a buyer’s guide of our top recommendations for Zebra barcode scanners, across a range of different use cases. Factoring in a range of different business needs and budgets, we’ve selected a diverse array of recommendations for Zebra barcode scanners. Check out the guide below, and find the right barcode scanner for your business.

Products at a Glance

How We Picked the Best Zebra Barcode Scanners

Beyond the Zebra brand label, which guarantees a certain standard of quality, we also factored in the overall use case of the top Zebra scanners: from fixed-point checkout scanners to more portable inventory management units, there are plenty of different models on the market for different use cases. We considered products from each of the major categories, and factored in the ergonomics and reliability of each model. The best barcode scanners are omnidirectional – meaning that the barcode doesn’t have to be directly aligned with the scanner to read – which we consider near-essential. Equally, compatibility with a range of differing barcode types such as data matrices or European EAN numbers was an important consideration to allow the maximum range for each barcode.

We settled on five Zebra barcode scanners, across different form factors and price points, to suit a wide range of business needs. Whether you require a warehouse inventory solution or a new checkout scanner, the best Zebra barcode scanners have the right product for you.

Our Recommended

Product Reviews

1
PROS
  • Easy to use - the DS2278 is capable of reading barcodes omnidirectionally and in a variety of states..
  • Cordless design - the wireless design grants freedom of movement, with great battery life and range making it tremendously versatile.
CONS
  • Cumbersome setup - the software can be initially difficult to set up: we recommend contacting Zebra's helpful customer service if you encounter any major issues.

Durable and dependable, the Zebra DS2278 is our top pick for the best Zebra barcode scanner. Utilizing the traditional barcode scanner design seen at checkouts across the globe, this unit may seem unassuming at first but boasts a range of quality improvements that make it our favorite for barcode scanning solution.

With a range of 14″ from the scanner itself, the DS2278 allows you to scan comfortably. Paired with the ability to parse torn and distorted barcodes, this unit adds tremendous value to your warehouse management or storefront scanning capabilities. It’s ready to use practically out of the box, with automated systems connecting up to your point-of-sale within moments. You can customize the scanner software as much or as little as you’d like and it is compatible with a range of operating systems.

However, we’d recommend taking the time to do more configuration than less, as the initial setup can be somewhat cumbersome – and done incorrectly, can affect productivity later on. It’s a small time investment for great result, and we still consider the DS2278 as our best Zebra barcode scanner!

2
PROS
  • Highly portable - with a 12-hour battery life and weight under 100g, this scanner is ideal for long-lasting duty cycles.
  • Built-in memory - 512MB of memory may not seem that large, but it allows for the storage of hundreds of thousands of barcodes.
CONS
  • Lacks omnidirectional scanning - barcodes must be aligned correctly to scan, which can slow productivity.

If you’re in a larger space or require a constant-carry scanning solution, consider the Zebra CS4070. This small yet fast barcode scanner is highly suited for warehouse inventories and scanning on the go, with a highly compact yet accommodating design.

Weighing just 93g, it’s easy to carry the CS4070 wherever you go. It can connect via Bluetooth or a supplied USB cable, meaning that most PDAs and tablets will be compatible. Despite its small size, the CS4070 can easily and quickly scan a variety of barcodes using its speedy laser sensor. The CS4070 charges fully in under 4 hours, and lasts for 12 hours in a standard duty cycle – and should you be working an extra-long shift, the battery can be replaced on the go. The 512MB built-in memory can house hundreds of thousands of barcodes, QR codes, and other formats. 

There is one design oversight we dislike in the CS4070, however, which is the lack of omnidirectional scanning. As mentioned above, it is near-essential for modern scanning practices, and it is a sorely missed feature. It doesn’t hinder our overall impression of the CS4070, though: pocket-sized and practical, this Zebra barcode scanner is ideal for use on the go!

3
PROS
  • Compact and affordable - this budget barcode scanner is ideal for small points of service or businesses working with limited funds and space.
  • Fast processing - barcodes can be scanned omnidirectionally and the DS9308 is capable of processing them incredibly quickly.
CONS
  • Poor build quality - the DS9308 is less element-resistant than other scanners, making it unsuitable for some environments.

A popular alternative to the typical scanner design, the Zebra DS9308 is a handsfree barcode scanner that can amplify productivity in busy retail environments. Simple but effective, this barebones barcode  scanner is highly efficient as a scanning solution.

The DS9308 is elegant, sleek, and takes up a minimal footprint. Connect it to your device of choice via USB, and be scanning in no time. Processing barcodes in all manner of states in a matter of milliseconds, the DS9308 makes the cumbersome tasks of checkout that much easier. The price is almost as small as the device’s physical footprint, both making for an affordable small-scale scanning solution. There’s a lot to like about the DS9308: be it in a retail, service or warehouse environment.

That said, there are some things to dislike: the device has a low IP52 rating for dust and moisture, meaning that it’s overall durability isn’t as sterling as we’d like. It’s an issue as small as the scanner, however, and we still recommend this as the best handsfree Zebra barcode scanner on the market – so long as you keep it out of harm’s way.

4
PROS
  • Highly productive - with a long-lasting battery and tremendous range, this unit is capable of extremely fast-paced and proactive scanning.
  • Weather-resistant - as well as being fall-protected, the double-sealings (IP65 and IP67, respectively) protect it from moisture and dust.
CONS
  • Heavy - the DS3678-SR is incredibly taxing to carry with a weight near the 3lbs mark.

On the other end of the durability spectrum, we have the Zebra DS3678-SR: a highly rugged barcode scanner designed to take some punishment. This Zebra barcode scanner isn’t all brawn, however, and boasts some impressive processing capabilities for scanning.

The DS3678-SR is heavy-duty in all regards: boasting a bulky battery, high (and low) temperature resistance, and double-sealing for element resistance. Working over WiFi rather than Bluetooth eliminates interference, and the scanner has tremendous range. It’s capable of reading barcodes from as far as 5ft away, through dirt or damage, and can process them in fractions of a second. The battery is rated for 100,000 scans, increasing your productivity a hundredfold.

However, in contrast to other more portable units, the DS3678-SR is a notably cumbersome unit, and weighs heavily not only on the hand but on the wallet with its premium price tag. But if you need a highly durable Zebra barcode scanner, this unit is nigh-impossible to beat.

5
PROS
  • Low price point - Zebra's affordable alternative allows small businesses to access their quality barcode scanning solution.
  • Assisted scanning - the DS2208 comes with laser guidelines to help your optimally scan larger or smaller barcodes.
CONS
  • USB connection only - this barcode scanner is best suited to singular locations, such as a retail POS or service desk, rather than portable applications.

Our final contender in this guide of the best Zebra barcode scanners is the Zebra DS2208, our budget-friendly scanning solution. The LS2208 also doubles as a fantastic entry-level barcode scanner, for businesses and sole traders needing a low-cost means of inventory management and transaction. 

For the low cost of purchase, you receive a tremendously versatile barcode scanner. Scanning 1D and 2D barcodes with ease, the DS2208 is quick to set up and quicker to process barcodes. The scanner itself helps track scans, meaning that you can check backlogs for errors or mis-scans. It comes with a laser guide that allows you to better scan larger barcodes, finding the optimal distance for positioning. Optional accessories include a handsfree stand to different cable lengths, meaning you can tailor this product to your business.

However, the scanner is limited to a wired connection only, making it primarily suited to points of sale or other fixed locations rather than mobile inventorying. It’s not likely to cause issue for most small businesses, however, and the DS2208 still earns it’s place as the best budget Zebra barcode scanner on the market.

Features and Considerations

If you’re looking into a Zebra barcode scanner not on today’s list, here are some things to consider before you purchase:

Connection

Though “barcode scanner” is a catch-all term, there’s significant differences between a wireless barcode scanner and a wired one. The former are suited to inventory management, allowing you to easily register barcode across a warehouse or storage units, whereas wired barcode scanners are rooted to one location. Consider your business needs before purchasing, as you could inadvertently hamstring your productivity.

Range

Similarly to how far you can take your scanner, how far that scanner can then reach is important. If you struggle reaching certain product codes or don’t want to constantly retrieve products from high shelves, make sure you buy a scanner with better range. The best Zebra barcode scanners have ranges ranging from 10″ through to several feet, so different use cases will require different ranges.

Compatibility

Though Zebra scanners are highly compatible with other devices, it may not be reciprocated by your point of sale. Wireless scanners, for example, may connect over WiFi or Bluetooth – which not all points will be compatible with. It’s a two-way street when it comes to scanner compatibility, so be sure you’ve got the right scanner for your POS.

Omnidirectional Scanning

We can’t stress enough the importance of omnidirectional scanning: the ability to scan barcodes no matter their orientation makes for streamlined work to an entirely different degree. We highly recommend a scanner capable of it, as though they can be more expensive they compensate with boosted productivity and scanning speeds.

What's the difference between 1D and 2D barcodes?

1D barcodes are your traditional array of black lines, able to be scanned with a simple laser and containing basic information about a product. 2D barcodes such as QR codes are more complex and contain more information, but require 2D imagers to scan. The best Zebra barcode scanners are capable of processing both.

Are Symbol barcode scanners related to Zebra scanners?

Symbol was a barcode scanner manufacturer that was acquired by Motorola scanners in 2007 who were subsequently acquired by Zebra. Symbol now trade as part of the Zebra umbrella of companies.

Our Verdict

Though the initial stages of setting up the Zebra DS2278 are difficult, the ongoing quality of scanning makes this unit our top choice for the best Zebra barcode scanner. Easy to maneuver and even easier to scan, this omnidirectional barcode scanner is ideal for business of any size or use case.

Looking to scan other important business assets? Check out our guide on the best document scanners today.