Introduction to Handheld Computers


More detailed generic information

Motorola Model ES400 running Fiesta


A handheld computer is a small, portable device with screen and keyboard, and usually capable of reading barcodes or RFID tags. It will usually operate independently, in batch mode, or connected to a central database by a radio frequency link. It is characterised by small size, for mobility, and rugged construction.

The keyboard is now often a soft keyboard on a "slab of glass"

People using these devices often refer to them as "scanners" or "barcode readers"

Batch mode.

The first hand held computers operated in batch mode. They had on board memory, and all information collected with the handheld computer was saved for subsequent transfer to the main database. This transfer was usually achieved by connecting the unit with a cable or by putting it in a docking station.

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The docking station enables communication, and also charges the batteries in the unit. Information from the central database can be loaded to the handheld unit, enabling the user to reference that information as the unit is used. Modern units can store information on some hundreds of thousands of items.

Click here for more information on batch mode hand held computers.

RF linked handheld computers.

These units use a radio frequency communication link to transfer information between the mobile unit and the central database (which can be located close by, or far away, even in a different country)

Psion Teklogix EP10 Running BassetPro

Although more complex to set up, these units are simpler to use, and provide access to data in real time. They also intrinsically reduce the possibility of data loss. 

Click here for more information on hand held computers operating in RF mode.

Hand held, hand-held or handheld?

All are equally acceptable. We stick with "handheld" computer, but you will find all variants commonly used...


SageData is based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

We design, supply and support systems for asset management, warehouse management, inspections, and traceability.

The technologies we use include barcodes, RFID, NFC, BLE, and handheld computers.

We provide consulting services, and standard or bespoke systems designed to your requirements.

For further information, or for advice and assistance with your application, contact Doreen Garvin or Frances Minhas

Click here to reach SageData by email.

To reach us by phone:
from outside Ottawa, dial 1-888-838-1067
from Ottawa, dial 613 225 4404

Thank you for your interest in our products and services.

Memor rugged handheld computer