RFIDs – One Handheld to Read Them All

Written by David Carta

September 27, 2021

The SmartAT870 is a lightweight and rugged (IP65 rated) mobile unit manufactured by SmarTerminal that Telaeris resells.

It is an outstanding device, capable of reading most RFID tags, barcodes, and smart cards available. We get lots of questions regarding what this device can do, so this article discusses most of the capabilities of the SmartA

T870 for Badge Identification and Asset Management.

RFID Tag Frequencies

The great thing about the SmartAT870, is that it has attachments to support any of the standard RFID tags and frequencies.  For those who need a refresher of the basics – the frequency of a RFID signal is measured in hertz (Hz) or number of transitions per second. All RFID chips operate at a specific frequency (low, high or ultra-high) and readers need to be tuned to the same frequency.

Low Frequency (LF): Generally operates at 125 KHz or 134 KHz. LF is used for the majority of access control badges as well as animal tagging.
High Frequency (HF): Operates at 13.56 MHz and is used for smart cards and passports (ISO 14443 A/B). Some industrial RFID and access badges are also tuned to this frequency (ISO 15693).
Ultra High Frequency (UHF): Operates in the 400MHz – 900MHz bands. Most of the commercial RFID for asset tracking falls in the 900MHz range.

Learn more about RFID tags and frequencies HERE

RFID Reader + Antennas

Depending upon the RFID tag you want to read, the configuration of the SmartAT870 RFID reader and antenna will be different.  The reader antenna transmits signals which power passive RFID tags. The tag’s embedded chip sends information identifying itself.

External Antenna: Works with UHF or HF RFID tags and provides the best range.  Some UHF tags can be read up to 20 ft away and HF tags up to 6 inches away. The external antenna configuration is usually accompanied by a gun handle.
Backpack Antenna: This can be built with HF and/or LF RFID readers.  In this configuration, tags can be read up to a maximum of 4 inches,
Internal Antenna: This configuration is the slimmest of all, but it can only be built with an HF RFID reader. This has a range of only 2-3 inches.
Focused Antenna: This configuration was specifically designed by Telaeris to read HF RFID tags embedded in metal.  It requires close (< 1 in) contact to read the chip.

Supported Badges, Smart Cards and RFID Tags

There are many types of RFID enabled smart cards and tags that are used for different situations. Even when these devices operate at the same frequency, they essentially “speak different languages” so specific readers are required for each type. Our most common smart card, RFID tag and badges which are supported by the SmartAT are described below:


Standard Smart Cards (HF): These describe any card technology that meets one of the ISO standards, including MIFARE, ISO 14443 A/B, or ISO 15693. Data can be read and written to these cards.



Government PIV Smart Cards (HF): Technically PIV/CAC/FRAC is a variant of ISO 14443 smartcards.  The Government Personal Identification Verification Smart(PIV) Cards have their own data format which stores government identification data.



HID iCLASS Smart Cards (HF): This reader is certified with HID to read all iCLASS access control cards.



HID Prox (LF): This reader works with all HID Prox Access Control cards. These type of cards make up the majority of building entry badges in the USA.



Multi Vendor Prox (LF): Prox technology is no longer patented by HID.  Many other vendors now produce Prox cards. The SmartAT870 can be provided with readers configured to work with any proprietary Prox technology cards.



iCLASS + Prox (HF & LF): With the release of the new iClassSE reader, Telaeris now provides a reader which can simultaneously support both LF and HF card technologies.



Standard RFID Tags (HF): Our HF reader can support most ISO15693 style HF RFID tags. The read range for these tags are only a few inches. This type of tag requires a backpack or external RFID reader.



Metal Embedded RFID Tags (HF): In general, metal makes it difficult to read RFID tags. Telaeris specifically designed the HF focused antenna to solve this problem. It is guaranteed to work with metal embedded tags as long as near physical contact is made. Read more about metal embedded RFID tags HERE



Long Range RFID Tags (UHF): These tags can be read with our UHF reader, supporting all EPC GEN 2 UHF type tag. Read distance can be up to 20ft away and requires an external antenna. Read more about UHF RFID Ranges HERE


Barcode Scanners

Each SmartAT870 can additionally be built with 1D or 2D barcode readers, each of which has its own advantages. Regardless of the RFID technology, we always add a barcode reader to devices we provide.  Learn more about the differences between Barcodes and RFID chips HERE


1D barcodes are the fastest to scan, but only store short strings of numbers and letters. They are used in almost all supermarkets.


2D barcodes can holds large amounts of data and are becoming more ubiquitous with the advent of QR codes and cell phones. They take longer to scan than 1D codes. Additionally, they can be printed very small.

Other Options

There are many more options that can be delivered with any SmartAT870 including: integrated Camera, WIFI, Bluetooth, GPS, and GPRS.  In addition, you may purchase a full range of accessories such as  Larger Batteries, Desktop Cradles, Vehicle Cradles, Gun Handles, Protective Cases, Holsters, and Slings to meet your specific operational needs.

Telaeris provides hardware and software solutions for tracking people and assets. If you have any questions about the SmartAT870 handheld or which RFID technology your specific solution requires, our staff would be happy to answer any questions.

Please give us a call at 858-627-9700 or contact us at [email protected].
So is the SmartAT the one handheld for your purposes?  Let us know!

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