What is the best UHF RFID Label Tag in 2017? Best of 6 Common Retail UHF Label Tags

Tag Test 6 Common UHF RFID Label Tags by eChain Technology

There are hundreds of UHF RFID tags currently available on the market and new tags appearing every week (it seems).  Tags are customized to meet so many scenarios from on-metal, laundry, high-temp, small/micro, cable tags, zip-tie tags, wet inlay (adhesive backed sticker), printable label tags, and more…

Trying to find the best tag on the market for any given scenario can be extremely time consuming, and misleading capabilities documented by tag manufacturers don’t help at all.

From time to time, we evaluate available RFID tags to help us narrow the list to a manageable few tags for our customers and to recommend to RFID users based on a controlled tag comparison. This particular tag test provided results that was surprising even to us, and I think will help guide you to using a relatively new tag that had superior results compared to all other commonly used UHF RFID Label Tags.

Tags Tested:

  1. Alien Squiggle – ALN-9640 (Higgs 3) aftermarket, 4x.5 inch inlay
  2. AD-227m5 – Avery Dennison (Monza 5) from manufacturer, 4×2 inch label
  3. xWing – Invengo (Monza 5) from manufacturer, 3×2 inch label
  4. Alien Short – ALN-9662 (Higgs 3) aftermarket, 3×2 inch label
  5. Frog 3D, SMARTRAC (Monza 4) from manufacturer, 2×2 inch inlay
  6. AD-229r6 – Avery Dennison (Monza r6), from manufacturer, 4x.5 inch inlay

Methodology:

UHF USB Reader
UHF USB Reader

We decided to use the eChain High-Power USB Desktop RFID Reader for this test.  This reader is very easy to use, has a maximum output power of 26 dBm (0.4W), and connects directly to PC using USB Cable.  While we could have used a much more powerful reader like the Impinj R420, some of these tags can be read at over 60 ft using the R420 and extreme range testing is something we will plan for a future experiment.  For this test, we are focused on documenting both the reading capability of the (medium-range) eChain desktop reader on currently available, inexpensive label tags.

The reader was set to max power (26 dBm) and configured for FCC frequency hopping.  We mounted the reader on a flat surface in a vertical orientation 3 ft (1m) from the ground.  The test was conducted indoors with unobstructed field of view with a maximum possible range of 30 ft (10m).

The tags were randomly selected from batches we have available, one from each of the 6 tags listed above.  We mounted the tags on separated sheets of paper, with EPC and TID printed to help identify the tested tags.

For the test, we placed a tape measure on the floor directly below the reader extending straight out for 30 ft.   We moved all tags out of range and started the reader.  We selected 1 tag at random and slowly moved toward the front of the reader along the tape measure from the 30 ft mark (outside read range) until the reader “beeped” and the first read was recorded (distance, frequency, rssi).  We then marked the tag read location on the tape measure at precisely the greatest distance of the first read.  We repeated this with the remaining 5 tags until the test was completed, we documented the measurements of the tags, reset and repeated the experiment for a total of 5 tests for all 6 tags.

Results

We ware amazed to see the clear winner of the test was the AD-229r6 with a maximum read observation of 24 ft (7.3m) and average max read range of 19.2 ft (5.8 m). This is an amazing 10 ft greater than the next maximum read (Frog 3D) and more than 2x the reading range of the Aveny Dennison predecessor tag, the AD-227m5.

Max Read Distance in Inches(IN)(FT)(FT)
Tag DescriptionT1T2T3T4T5AVGAVGMAX
Squiggle (Alien)98102110961031028.59.2
AD-227m59611080981161008.39.7
xWing (Invengo)95100132123891089.011.0
9662 Short (Alien)13215113211015513611.312.9
Frog 3D (SMARTRAC)16812913211714013711.414.0
AD-229r620220521624028823019.224.0
Totals791797802784891

Key Takeaways

  • Clear Winner: AD-229r6 for both average and maximum range read
  • 24 Ft Tag Reads: Using eChain USB Desktop Reader
  • Most Improved: AD-229r6 HUGE improvement over previous version AD-227m5
  • Best Short Tag:  Alien Short (9662) 3 inch tag had amazing performance for its size

Final Thoughts

Apologies to Alien Technology for Squiggle and Short tag test results as we used aftermarket tags.  These tags do not use the latest Alien chipset, and may not have the performance of OEM Alien tags.  Our reasoning is these Alien tags are prevalent online and provide a great price point sought after by high quantity/production clients.

Through other tag tests, we have found that the aftermarket Alien Short 9662 tags do tend to perform very well and consistently with our results here.  However, bulk purchases of those aftermarket tags reveal quality issues that make reads inconsistent from tag to tag.

We are very happy with our little desktop reader providing label tag reads up to 24 Ft!

Through other tag tests, we have found that the Alien Squiggle tends to perform better than the results found in these tests.  We would be glad to revisit or retest these, or other tags on request.  Thank-you for your interest!  Lewis Kilby, eChain Technology