<<< Continued from previous page

Part II: Product Review for the Opticon Bluetooth Scanner: OPN 2002

By Karin Bergsagel

In my eyes, the tiny OPN 2002 programmable barcode reader is an example of Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Once paired via Bluetooth to an iPhone or iPad, it will instantly scan and read a barcode into any program or web browser. The high quality laser works well even in difficult bright light conditions.

The best way to give an idea of the scale is to show it next to my iPhone.s

When scouting, I wear it on a thin lanyard around my neck. Point it at a barcode - Zap! - real-time ScoutPal data comes up - instantly.

This link gives technical specs.

And this one explains how to pair it - trust me, it is easier to do than to read the instructions - you just scan some barcodes to tell it what to do:

The only real con to this scouting solution is that, since it is an input device, it pairs as a keyboard, and that means that the onscreen keyboard is disabled. So, as long as you have Bluetooth enabled, you are limited to scanned input only. Of course, it is foolish to limit scouting to scannable barcodes - perish the thought! - so I usually turn off the Bluetooth and manually enter ISBNs if I want ScoutPal data. Or, if I want richer data, I will use my iPad, and manually enter information. That way I can access my favorite metasearch site, vialibri.net, and actually read the screen.

Yes, it's a bit of a juggling act - iPhone in left hand; OPN 2002 around neck; iPad held under arm; right hand to pick up books - but I find it quite manageable. I like using the scanner to enter barcodes - it is faster, more accurate, and less tedious than manual entry. Of course, I am still nowhere near as fast as a scanner-wielding bot using headphones and preset buy criteria, and that's just fine with me; they will miss plenty of books that I'll spot for one reason or another.

The other drawback is cost - the best price that I found was right at $300.

By now some of my peers, who believe that no "real" bookseller worth their salt needs a machine to tell them what to buy, are probably shaking their heads in sorrow at my misguided ways. For them, let me close by saying that since I use a computer and the internet to research books at home, I see no reason not to use the same sources in the field. An iPhone, an iPad, a barcode reader - they are all just tools, and what really matters is the skill and knowledge of the user.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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