To read barcodes, you need a barcode scanner. The Honeywell Voyager XP 1472g 2D area imaging scanner scans every known barcode, even when it’s not perfectly readable.
The Honeywell Voyager XP 1472g that I am testing is a full 2D scanner, which means you can scan any barcode type, including Aztec, Data Matrix and MaxiCode which are three 2D barcodes that are quite specialist symbologies. For example, MaxiCode was developed and (mainly) used by UPS. The Honeywell also scans the newest type of barcodes that isn’t a barcode at all but more like a matrix with dots in it — the DotCode symbology. And it is fast, very fast and accurate, even when you don’t position the scanner exactly over the barcode.
You can use a barcode scanner for anything from managing book collections and movies on Blu-Ray discs, to consumer products. You can also use barcodes and a scanner to know what’s on your driver’s licence, tax receipt, passport and more, but here are two applications that are particularly interesting for Mac users: scanning passwords and managing digital archives.
You can, for instance, create barcodes for your startup password and others, print them and use the Honeywell to scan them. By using a symbology that is rarely used, you can protect passwords from prying eyes, certainly if the symbology cannot be scanned by scanner apps on mobile devices.
I have tested the Voyager XP 1472g by scanning barcodes on optical discs that contain digital archives since 2001, pharmaceutical products, books, GoPro’s camera Data Matrix codes, receipts, insurance forms and more. The Honeywell Voyager XP (Extreme Performance) 1472g reads every symbology that is currently in use, including the ones that code over 1,000 characters — more than enough to contain extensive information, file names or metadata.
What makes this scanner so efficient is that the Voyager 1472g is a Bluetooth area imaging scanner. It’s handheld and comes with a base station and a choice of cables. My test unit came with a USB cable. To program the Voyager you’ll need a RS232 cable and a Windows system (I presume you can use Parallels Desktop). However, programming is only necessary if you want to change the scanner’s behaviour in ways that can’t be done by scanning the programming barcodes from the user guide. For most users, those barcodes are more than powerful enough.
The scanner operates on a proprietary Honeywell Li-ion battery with the base station acting as a charger. The USB port of your Mac provides enough power for charging, although it charges faster using an optional power adapter.
Except for the base station, you can hook up the Voyager directly to your Mac; in that case, it will act as a regular Bluetooth keyboard. I found that connecting via the USB cable and the base station comes with benefits, though. For example, the USB cable is over 1.5m long, offering you a working area beyond the 10m the Bluetooth radio supports.
Let’s say you’re going to use the Voyager XP 1472g barcode scanner to read ISBN codes from books on your bookshelves. The efficient way to do that is by activating batch scanning mode. With the 1472g you activate that mode by first scanning a special barcode printed in the user guide. It works very well; you even have the option to program the scanner for LIFO or FIFO operation and you can add ‘hard wired’ information to the data it scans — all via those simple barcodes in the manual.
The Voyager XP 1472g’s imaging area has a red aiming dot in the centre. The combination of the two allows you to read all types of barcodes, including large ones and 2D barcodes without a problem and from close by to far away — for some barcodes, the distance I managed to successfully read from was 60cm.
Another nice feature is that you can program the 1472g to constantly scan barcodes while it is seated in the base station’s cradle so you can hold a barcode underneath the scanner, upon which it will instantly read it. This does require you to operate it from the power adapter if you plan on doing this for longer periods of time as the base cannot simultaneously charge and detect barcodes.
You can even trigger the 1472g by having the host sending serial software commands. Finally, the Voyager 1472g supports Honeywell’s CodeGate. When that is on, the scanner will remain on, continuously aiming, scanning and decoding barcodes, but will only transmit data when the trigger is being pulled.
The only thing that I initially couldn’t get the scanner to do was decoding DotCodes. I had created one with Barcode Studio and expected the scanner to recognise it, but that didn’t happen. After a bit of back and forth emailing with Honeywell’s PR, I finally got it working.
The user guide doesn’t mention it, but to access DotCode functionality, you need to first turn on all symbologies and then turn off the ones you don’t need.
Barcodes are everywhere and you can use them for a lot of useful applications, including managing backup and archival media, easy password entry, managing collections of physical items like books, Blu-Ray movies and more.
The Honeywell Voyager XP 1472g is an inexpensive but full-featured and robust — it will withstand drops and bumping — barcode scanner with competing products costing two to three times as much. In the EU, the Voyager XP 1472g retails at about 100 Euros including the USB cable.
For a complete overview of archiving digital data of any kind on a Mac, including the use of barcodes and a scanner to track and manage your media, see my long-read on this interesting subject here.