Motorola DS9808-R Review

Motorola DS9898 barcode/rfid scanner Winco IDWhile the Auto ID industry has come up with a whole lot of useful RFID readers over the last few years, a simple scanner type reader has not materialized. For a while we used the unit sold by our friends at Tharo, poor quality, made in China, but got the job done.

When the Tharo reader was discovered to be no longer available  we flirted with the Tracient reader from RFID TagStock. This one was showing some promise, but unfortunately the company was never able to deliver some units we ordered.

Enter Motorola Solutions with the DS9808-R. This is basically a regular 9808 scanner with an RFID base added to it. It looks as though the RFID part was a complete afterthought (it probably was!), but if that solves the problem who cares? In any event, the RFID module is designed to read UHF tags – perfect since that’s what our customers are mainly using.

Anyway, we have some orders we need to complete so we got a DS9808-R ordered from BlueStar and it is now sitting happily on my desk.

On the Outside

This combination handheld/desktop form factor for barcode scanners is becoming quite the trend these days. I have several on my desk from various manufacturers. I’m not sure I’m a big fan, but I use the scanner as a handheld most of the time and don’t like to have to lug that big base around. For someone using the scanner mainly as a desktop, i’m sure it is fine. In any case, for the R version of the DS9808, the form factor works well.

A little plastic switch in the base detects whether or not the scanner is sitting on a tabletop, switching it into the appropriate mode.

The DS9808-R has the usual (pretty good) Motorola build quality and while it isn’t one of Moto’s super durable products, it feels as though it is tough enough for most applications.

Barcode Scanning

This DS9808-R is fitted with Motorola’s standard range imager and does a good job with scanning both linear and 2D barcodes, as one would expect..

As with other Moto scanners, the scanner can be programmed using config barcodes in the manual or by using the much improved 123Scan application. If doing a lot of handheld scanning, the DS9808-R is a little clunky, particularly with the extra bulk of the RFID module – to be fair, you probably wouldn’t have bought this for lots of handheld barcode scanning in the first place.

RFID Scanning

OK, the RFID part of my DS9808-R didn’t work out of the box. This was largely because of what is in the box when it ships – the scanner unit and nothing else. No manuals, no CD, no cables, no anything!

So what cable to use? Aha, a call to Tech Support and we are told to use the same USB cable as any other Motorola scanner. This is not correct. Using the standard Moto USB connection cable will allow the barcode scanner to work perfectly – however the RFID part needs more power and will not function at all without an external power supply. Since Moto doesn’t appear to send any information at all with the scanner, you can get the DS9808-R supplement to the manual online and see how to connect your reader.

How to connect DS9808-R


It would be nice if Motorola would make this information a little easier to find in order to save customers wasting their time figuring this out. The power supply and cables are a little pricey too!

Connect up the DS9808-R with the proper cables and the RFID bursts into life. Good performance and the 123Scan app allows for a lot of customizing as to how the user needs it to work.

I have mine set so that it is always ready to read while in desktop (hands-free) mode and in handheld mode, the top part of the trigger button actives barcode scanning, the lower part RFID.

One little tip – close 123Scan before trying to use the scanner to scan into your computer. I found that having 123Scan open produced some interesting results.


The DS9808-R is a very welcome product from Motorola. It is a device that I think will be helpful for a number of our customers looking for a simple way to be able to capture the data from RFID tags as well as from barcodes.

What I Liked

  • Finally, a simple (rather) low-cost RFID reader from a reliable manufacturer
  • Good quality barcode scanner
  • Solid RFID reading
  • Access to Moto/Symbol programming tools

What I Didn’t Like

  • Not made in the USA
  • No documentation included with the scanner

Would I Buy It?

Yes, I did!

What Would I Change?Where is my RFID P360?

Funny you would ask that!

Ever since Al Gore invented RFID, I been looking for a simple handheld RFID scanner with a display. I want to be able to read the tags on boxes ready to ship, see on the display that the label is indeed encoded properly and save the scans in memory to upload to my computer.

For me, the perfect device would be using the old Symbol P360 form factor with a better display, a proper OS and batch mode with RFID. The newer MT2000 series is close (if it had RFID), but I don’t like the clunky Windows OS very much.

In the meantime, the DS9898-R is a good device to be using in the meantime, just wish it had a display and I could ditch the cable! The first customer to buy the DS9808-R from us liked it and just ordered another – solid performance so far.

Do you have a need for a simple, scanner style RFID reader? Give me a call at 603-598-1553 x237 if you do. We can make sure you get everything you need to get going – including the correct cables!

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