What is RFID Reader ?

An RFID reader is the brain of the RFID system and is required for the operation of each RFID system. Readers are devices that transmit and receive radio waves to communicate with RFID tags. RFID readers are typically divided into two types – Fixed RFID Readers and Mobile RFID Readers. Stationary readers remain in one place and are usually mounted on walls, tables, portals or other fixed locations.

A common set of stationary readers are integrated readers. An integrated RFID reader is a reader with an internal antenna that typically includes an additional antenna port for connection to an optional external antenna. Integrated readers are generally aesthetically pleasing and are designed to be used for indoor applications without heavy traffic of tagged elements.

Mobile readers are handheld devices that provide the flexibility to communicate with a host or smart device when reading RFID tags. There are two main categories of mobile RFID readers – readers that have a built-in computer called mobile computing devices and use Bluetooth or Auxiliary connectivity to a smart device or tablet called Sleds.

Fixed RFID Readers typically have external antenna ports that can be connected anywhere from one additional antenna to eight different antennas. With the addition of multiplexers, some readers can be connected to 32 RFID antennas. The number of antennas connected to a reader depends on the coverage area required for RFID application. Some desktop applications, such as opening and closing files, require only a small footprint, so one antenna may be sufficient. In other applications with wider coverage, such as time-lapse, finish line in a race, it typically requires multiple antennas because the required coverage will be large and must be fast.

RFID Reader Types

The most common way to classify readers is to classify them as fixed or mobile. Other ways to distinguish between RFID readers include connectivity, available programs, features, process features, power options, antenna ports, and so on.

Frequency Range – 902 – 928 MHz USA, 865 – 868 MHz AB, etc.

Mobility – Fixed Readers, Integrated Readers; Mobile Readers

Connection Options – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LAN, Serial, USB, Auxiliary Port

Available Utilities – HDMI, GPS, USB, Camera, GPS, GPIO, 1D / 2D Barcode, Cellular Features

Processing Capabilities – OnBoard Processing, No Onboard Processing

Power Options – Power Adapter, PoE, Battery, In-Car, USB

Available Antenna Ports – No External Ports, 1 Port, 2 Ports, 4 Ports, 8 Ports, 16 Ports

Important Factors When Choosing an RFID Reader

  • How much reading distance do you want?
  • Are there extreme environmental conditions to consider? Such as extreme temperature, cold, humidity, impact.
  • Will you add the reader to a network?
  • Where will the reader be placed? Is it fixed or in the vehicle?
  • Does the reader need to be mobile?
  • How many reading points/reading areas will you need?
  • How many labels may need to be read at a time?
  • How fast will the tags move in the reading area?