I’m always surprised that products like the Honeywell 8650 scanner are not more widely used – they seem to be a concept that could make life easier for a large group of users.
Imagine that you work in a busy warehouse or distribution center. A big part of your day consists of moving boxes or pallets around – jobs that require you to use both of your hands. If you need to be able to scan the barcodes on the items at the same time time, it all becomes a bit of a juggling act. You have to be able to use your hands to move the boxes and use a handheld scanner or mobile computer at the same time. Doesn’t seem quite right to me.
A wearable scanner, leaving both hands free to actually do some work seems like a good idea to me.
The wearable scanner concept isn’t new.
An early example was Symbol’s WS1000, a wearable computer with an attached ring scanner. This was apparently developed in the early 1990’s to meet a request from UPS who’s drivers are the classic example of needing to be able to handle packages while having the ability to scan barcodes at the same time. Since then, Symbol (now Motorola Solutions) has continued to produce wearable computers and scanning systems.
The Honeywell 8650 Scanner actually uses a Motorola Solutions scanner module as a key part of the design.
The 8650 device was designed by LXE a while ago, before the company was purchased by Honeywell. While I’m never a fan of good small businesses being taken over by large ones, it is nice to see that Honeywell has continued most of the LXE product line – including this scanner.
Most of the ring type scanner on the market, are connected to a mobile device via a cable so can really only be used with that manufacturers own system. The Honeywell 8650 on the other hand, is Bluetooth enabled. In theory it can be used with any Bluetooth computer, such as a rugged handheld computer, PC or tablet device. My plan is to try and get the review unit working with my iPhone.
Honeywell 8650 First Thoughts
We had requested a demo unit because a client has a possible need for some of these and the package arrived today.
Inside the box is the scanner itself, the Bluetooth interface unit, battery, battery charger and arm mounting strap. Actually there are two of the straps in the package, I think to enable fitting on different size arms. Everything is marked with the LXE logo – no Honeywell to be seen.
The 8650 is available with a linear laser scanner unit or with an area imager. This demo unit has the imager option – nice in that it can handle both linear and 2D barcodes.
I found it was easy to set the scanner unit on my finger and strap the Bluetooth part to my forearm.
The scanner does feel a little wobbly perched on my finger (I’m thinking the Motorola RS507 would be better in this area), but this might just be a case of getting used to it. Scanning barcodes by pressing the scan button with my thumb is no problem.
Well, after charging the battery and getting the scanner strapped to my finger and wrist, I was ready to get connected.
This is where the first disappointment comes in. Switching on the Bluetooth in my iPhone, the scanner isn’t seen. No problem, time for a Google search to find out how to do it properly.
What I learn is that to connect the 8650 to an iOS device a third party bridge dongle is needed – so much for the claim of being able to use the scanner with any Bluetooth device.
Not to be deterred by a slight setback I reach for the laptop instead. Well, actually, I borrow a laptop since the Bluetooth on mine seems to not exist.
Anyway, good news – the laptop Bluetooth sees the 8650 and I can pair the two devices. Time for some serious barcode scanning!
Not so fast!
The scanner comes with a standard Bluetooth Serial profile and seems to be lacking the Human Interface Device (HID) profile that is needed to use the scanner as keyboard input into applications.
OK, off to the Honeywell site to find the download for the driver needed to get it working. Hmm, no sign of it. A quick call to tech support determines that there is no download and really no interest in helping. Not sure why Honeywell would buy LXE if they don’t want to support LXE products!
Luckily, we purchase a lot of the hardware we sell through ScanSource, a Value Added Distributor, and the ScanSource tech support guys are actually very helpful. Turns out there is indeed a software wedge application that should solve my problem. Still no download though – for some reason, the software is only available on a CD – this is 2012, right?
** Interlude waiting for FedEx to deliver the CD**
Alrighty, the review is back on track after the nice FedEx people delivered the software needed.
Let’s get it installed and see what happens!
So far so good – admin rights issues on one PC, but it works OK on another.
However, for our client who is interested in purchasing some of these scanners, they need to be able to scan into computers that are not Bluetooth enabled. My friend Darrin at Honeywell suggests using this Bluetooth dongle from IOGear: http://www.iogear.com/product/GBU321/ Should have one here to check out in the next day or so.
Well, I did get the dongle, but I really don’t have a working set up yet. I’ll update the review if I ever succeed with this. I suspect that using the scanner with an LXE (Honeywell) device would be a lot easier than trying to connect it to a random computer. Nevertheless, it is very frustrating that the various parts don’t seem to work nicely together.
So here’s my thoughts on the Honeywell 8650 Scanner:
What I Like
- The concept of a wearable scanner that can connect to a computer and allow workers to have both hands free for actual work
- The actual embedded Symbol scan engine. Reads just about all barcodes and very fast too
What I Don’t Like
- The fact the scanner slips around on my finger – the two finger one from Motorola looks as though it would be more stable to use
- The lack of support from Honeywell
- The aggravation of getting it working. Maybe I was too ambitious trying to use a non-LXE computer, but they do claim it works with any Bluetooth enabled computer so it should be easier than this.
Would I Buy It?
If I was using an LXE mobile or vehicle mount computer, I’d consider it. After trying to get this one working, I’m really no longer surprised these devices are not seen that often.
Update – April 2, 2013
We’ve been working with a client to get the ring scanner working. So far, using the Bluetooth adapter we can successfully use it with Windows XP and Windows 7. Once the connection is made, the scanner works very well.
I feel that Honeywell could sell a lot of these if the interface issues were easier to deal with. Being able to use something like Intermec’s SD61 might help too – with the new combined HoneyMech organization might give this some thought?