There are a number of standards that support the integration of smartcard readers with computers. The most widely followed standard for USB interfaces is PC/SC (Personal Computer/Smart Card), and this has been implemented in successive versions of Windows for quite some time.
Microsoft’s more recent ultraportable notebooks now include USB-C ports, while other models include the larger ‘classic’ USB-A ports. The readers below are ideally suited for use with Microsoft Surface devices.
It’s important to understand that smartcard readers aren’t ‘plug-n-play’ in the same way that many common USB peripherals are – generally you can’t just attach a smartcard reader and expect the information that it reads from a smartcard to be visible natively, with either macOS, Linux or Windows. Software is required to handle data read from a smartcard – that could be a utility that integrates cards with an existing application, or an application that supports smartcards directly. Because smartcards are intended to be used with specific applications, the information on the card, the exact type of card, and which particular smartcard readers are supported, principally depends on that application. So smartcard reader compatibility must be checked with the existing application, or integration software, that it is to be used with.
Best smart card readers for Microsoft Surface – contact card readers for USB-C ports
The Surface Pro and Surface Go ranges include models with USB-C ports.
- ACS ACR39U-NF fold-away contact smartcard reader – USB-C
- Identiv uTrust SmartFold SCR3500-C contact smartcard reader – USB-C
Best smart card readers for Microsoft Surface – contact card readers for USB-A ports
The Surface Book, Surface Laptop and Surface Studio ranges include models with USB-A ports.
- Identiv uTrust SmartFold SCR3500-A contact smartcard reader – USB-A
- ACS ACR39U-N1 fold-away contact smartcard reader – USB-A
Best smart card readers for Microsoft Surface – contactless card readers
There is much greater variation in the extent to which standards are supported by contactless card readers, therefore it is even more important that reader compatibility is checked with the specific application.
- ACS ACR1255U contactless high frequency reader – Bluetooth
13.56MHz contactless smartcard reader is designed to support on-the-go smartcard and NFC applications. Featuring Bluetooth Smart connectivity (Bluetooth Low Energy), this extremely portable reader includes a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and is ideal for use with most Bluetooth-enabled devices including smartphones and tablets.
Note: Battery charging requires the use of the USB Mini-B connector provided with the reader, so a suitable adapter is required. The ACR1255U supports ISO 14443 Type A and B smartcards, as well as MIFARE, FeliCa, and most ISO 18092 compliant NFC tags and devices.
All current Microsoft Surface models support Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
- Identiv/SCM SCL3711 contactless high frequency USB-stick reader – USB-A
13.56MHz contactless smartcard reader supporting MIFARE and ISO 14443 A/B cards as well as Felica and all 4 types of NFC cards and tags in all 3 NFC modes (reader, card emulation and peer-to-peer).
- ACS ACR1252U contactless high frequency desktop reader – USB-A
13.56MHz contactless smartcard reader that supports ISO 14443 type A and B cards, MIFARE, FeliCa, and ISO 18092–compliant NFC cards and tags. Replacing the popular ACR122U.
If you need further help or advice with choosing the right smartcard reader for your requirements contact Smartcard Focus.