Update: January 2013. It seems that this RFID Reader has been discontinued.
If you are looking for a simple low cost reader for UHF RFID, we’d suggest the Tracient Padl-R described in this review.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been complaining about the high price of handheld RFID readers.
Our RFID clients are all in the DoD world and need to be able to show their DCMA QAR people that the RFID labels they are sticking to their boxes, crates and pallets actually work and have been encoded with the proper information. Until recently, the only way to do this has been to use something like the Symborola MC9090 or the Intermec CK3 mobile computers. These are great devices, but for this application are both way overkill both technically and financially.
Because of the low sales volume for such handheld RFID devices, I was resigned to never getting my hands on a more cost effective solution. Imagine my surprise when I learned of a new low cost RFID reader from my friends at Tharo Systems.
The device in question (the PR100) is able to read EPC Gen2 tags and actually does it reasonably well. For a shade under $1,000 (less than a quarter the price of competing systems) the reader also comes with software for PC that allows the tags that have been read to be saved to a CSV file.
So what are my impressions?
Looks and Ergonomics.
This thing looks like no RFID Reader I’ve ever seen – more like an electronic frying pan than anything else. You wouldn’t want to use it for any length of time – the design makes it very unbalanced. Of course, if your people are reading RFID tags all day, you’d be using one of the Windows based devices anyway – this reader is intended for occasional use.
The reader is made of moulded plastic with little rubber bits stuck on to protect it. Several bits of rubber had fallen off from my demo unit when it arrived so some better glue would be in order. I also don’t expect Jim Danko at Tharo making any of those videos showing the device being dropped from high places and still working – you know like those Symborola and Intermec ones. I’m not going to do any drop testing because I have a feeling Jim will be sending me a bill if I break it.
The included RF Acquire software is a little on the clunky side, but does allow you to connect with the reader via USB and save the reports of the tags that have been read. For our clients, this is as good an out of the box solution as the Symbol and better than the Intermec.
Like I say, the poor ergonomics mean that your wrist would be sore if you had to use this reader for any length of time. I must say though, when it comes to reading the tags, the PR100 does as good a job as its much more expensive competitors – I am pretty impressed with the performance.
Buy this device if:
- You need to be able to read RFID tags but have a limited budget
- Your DCMA QAR wants you to prove that your RFID labels really work
- Your volume of RFID is low
- You need to be able to capture the data from RFID tags and upload to Excel
Avoid this device if:
- You work in an environment with a risk of the reader being damaged
- You need networking and Windows Mobile features
- You need a device to scan barcodes as well as read RFID
- Your operators are scanning a lot of tags and labels.
The perfect user for this device is a DoD contractor, looking to ensure compliance with MIL-STD-129 in the most cost effective way. The PR100 isn’t a serious data collection device – you need an MC9090 for CK3 for that.
I really like the fact that Tharo includes everything needed right in the box – including a little multi-country power adaptor. To put together an Intermec CK3 for RFID reading, I have to order 13 line items which is a nightmare. I wish more companies would let me order just one item in the way Tharo does here.
The PR100 isn’t perfect. It is too big, has poor ergonomics and doesn’t seem to be too tough.For the right customer though, the combination of low cost and good RFID reading is hard to beat!
Are you a DoD contractor? How do you show your DCMA QAR that your RFID labels are correct?
For more info or to purchase, use the contact form on the site or call me at 603-598-1553 x237