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What is an RFID SLED Handheld Reader?

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Nov 07, 2023
  • RFID
What is an RFID SLED Handheld Reader?

RFID technology has enabled new trends in automatic identification and data capture in various business domains. With increasing day-to-day business operations and the complex tasks of keeping accurate records of inventory, supply chains, and order fulfillment measures, the emphasis on new data collection techniques is not surprising and RFID has become a go-to option in this regard. 

Many retail giants such as Walmart, H&M, Zara, Macy’s, etc. are leveraging Radio Frequency Identification technology, replacing traditional barcodes with RFID tags, in order to keep accurate records of all the items in their stores and warehouses and to provide customers with enhanced user experience and customer satisfaction. They are particularly focused on meeting the changing customer expectations in this post-COVID-19 world.

RFID, as an advanced AIDC technology, is proving to be a cost-effective and efficient technology for many reasons, one of them being the declining cost of RFID tags and Readers from what it was a few years ago. The cost of RFID labels is now at INR 5-6 per tag (4-5 US Cents per tag), significantly less than 40-50 US cents per tag before, and even the cost of RFID readers and antennas has come down significantly. 

Another significant advantage of RFID over other technologies is how simple it is to collect data with an RFID handheld reader, particularly in the retail business. RFID handheld readers are particularly helpful to staff taking inventory counts, looking for items for instant search, and helping out customers. An RFID Reader can interrogate RFID tags from a distance and receive the data from RFID tags and decode the same for the end users.

RFID handheld readers are very popular due to the convenience they offer in various business activities in retail, healthcare, supply chain management and logistics, manufacturing, etc. Amongst various types of UHF RFID readers such as fixed readers, wearable readers, RFID handheld readers, integrated readers, desktop readers, etc., RFID SELD readers are of particular interest amongst business. 


An RFID SLED (Short for Single-Handed Lightweight Extended Device) handheld reader is a type of RFID reader that combines the functionality of a handheld reader with the convenience of a sled attachment. SLED readers are designed to be attached to a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to enable RFID reading capabilities while offering the benefits of the Android and iOS platforms and various connectivity options such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. 

UHF RFID SLED Handheld Readers offered by AIDC Company Zebra, Zebra RFD 8500, and Zebra RFD40, are designed to offer a high read rate, 1300 tags per second, and a higher read range, up to 15m. 

RFID SLED Readers and RFID handheld Readers 

RFID SLED Readers are not like simple RFID readers in some particular ways. Compared to a simple handheld reader, an RFID SLED handheld reader offers several advantages. First, it provides the ability to read RFID tags while also offering additional features like barcode reading capabilities. This makes it a versatile tool for various applications that require both RFID and barcode scanning. 

Second, the SLED design allows for easy attachment and detachment from a mobile device, providing flexibility and convenience for users. Lastly, RFID SLED handheld readers often have enhanced durability and ruggedness, making them suitable for industrial and field environments.

How RFID SLED Readers are different than Fixed RFID Readers?

It is obvious by now that an RFID SLED reader is a type of handheld RFID reader that provides an option to attach smartphones or tablets. On the other hand, a fixed RFID reader is a stationary device that is permanently installed in a specific location, such as a doorway or conveyor belt.

RFID Fixed Readers are designed for continuous and automated RFID tag reading in a fixed area. Fixed readers typically have a higher read range and read rate compared to handheld readers, making them suitable for applications that require high-volume and high-speed tag reading, such as inventory management and supply chain operations.

Benefits of RFID SLED Handheld Readers

RFID SLED Readers offer several benefits in retail and inventory management business as well as manufacturing and other industrial settings where rugged design is a requisite. 

RFID SLED handheld readers are Portable 

RFID SLED handheld readers offer the advantage of portability, allowing users to carry them around and perform RFID tag readings on the go.


These devices often come with additional features like barcode scanning capabilities, providing users with a versatile tool for multiple identification needs.

Easy to use

The SLED design allows for easy attachment and detachment from a mobile device, and network standard connectivity such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, providing convenience and flexibility for users.

Durable and Suitable for Industrial Applications

RFID SLED handheld readers are typically built to withstand harsh environments and rugged use, making them suitable for industrial and field applications.

Offer High Read rate and Read Range

UHF RFID SLED readers are also known for their high read rate of 1300 tags per second and high read range of up to 15m. 

Applications of RFID SLED Handheld Readers

UHF RFID SLED Readers are easy to use and can be carried in hand for a long due to their lightweight design. These readers are suitable for various kinds of business applications as follows:

Inventory Management

RFID SLED handheld readers can be used for inventory management tasks, such as cycle counting, stocktaking, and asset tracking. The portability and versatility of these devices make them useful for performing RFID tag reads in various locations.


These handheld readers can be used in retail environments for tasks like inventory replenishment, price verification, and product authentication.

Field Service

RFID SLED handheld readers are valuable tools for field service technicians who need to identify and track assets, perform maintenance tasks, and update records in real time.

Event Management

These devices can also be used in event management to track attendees, manage access control, and monitor the movement of assets or equipment.


RFID SLED handheld readers can assist in healthcare applications, such as patient identification, medication management, and asset tracking within hospitals or clinics.

To conclude, RFID SLED (Single-Handed Lightweight Extended Device) Readers, which offer specific features and capabilities depending on the manufacturer and model, are very durable and efficient, helping with retail store operations, inventory management, item identification, and tracking in the supply chain, ensuring order fulfillment and inventory visibility. 

RFID SLED readers can be easily attached to smartphones and tablets which also means that one can instantly store the data in dedicated software and generate reports and insights on the go.


Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Nov 07, 2023

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