What's new in POS Hardware?

By Tammy Mastroberte, Contributing Editor | March 03, 2011

Just as with all technology, the point-of-sale (POS) environment in the hospitality arena continues to evolve; from smaller footprints and more peripheral connections to energy savings and data security. Restaurant employees are going mobile with devices allowing order placement, payments and more, and manufacturers are adding PCI compliant security features to ensure data safety.

“To be competitive in today’s environment, most businesses have to keep upwith the bigger picture trends that include better security and an ever-growing arsenal of tools that enable us to effectively communicate with our customers,” says Caroline Parks, director of IT at McCormick’s & Schmick’s, (Portland, Ore.,www.mccormickandschmicks.com). “The POS plays a critical role in our ability to put all of the pieces together. POS systems and hardware that help connect those dots will become increasingly important.”

The POS hardware market has also become more affordable, especially with mobile options such as printers and payment devices, including hardware that can attach to a smartphone, notes Chuck Fillinger, senior associate and independent consultant for TSG, a payment advisory firm in Omaha, NE (www.thestrawgroup.com). “Many restaurants are getting away from the stand-alone terminal and downloading payment apps to use on smartphone devices with card readers attached,” he says.

Restaurant operators are also exploring customer-facing applications that allow guests to pay from their own smartphones; an option Starbucks is already offering. “Hardware that enables the POS to interact more intelligently with our customers will likely be a trend that gains momentum in the coming months and years,” Parks says. “This will likely include the ability for our customers to use their own mobile devices to talk to our POS for payment, promotions and other marketing program.”

In addition, today’s POS systems are offering greater energy savings and security features, all in a more modern design. Features are being built in for upgrades down the line and the look, feel and even color of these units is becoming a point of differentiation for today’s operators.

“I see the POS trend moving towards a smaller, more cutting-edge design. Today, a reliable and durable POS is assumed and aesthetics are becoming a must-have,” says Frank Daidone, director of IT at Chipotle Mexican Grill (www.chipotle.com), based in Denver, Colo. “The recent rise of slate computing has proven that the limitations of yesterday’s hardware have been lifted and has given way to new innovation that will soon find its way to our POS counter.” Chipotle is also using a handheld device to process transactions, and Daidone anticipates more advancements coming in this market soon.

WHAT’S NEW: POS TERMINALS
Fujitsu America (www.fujitsu.com) introduced in January the TP-X II POS controller and TP-X II Coupé to North America, offering a 40 percent smaller footprint and lower power consumption. Available in standard or compact size, the Fujitsu TP-X II controller platform offers a high-efficiency power supply with 80-percent certified efficiency to directly power peripherals from the control unit. It also offers an optional second hard disc and RAID controller to allow either unit to be configured as a resilient server supporting multiple applications and client terminals.

Logic Controls (www.logiccontrols.com) upgraded its SB-9090 all-in-one POS system with an Intel Atom Processor D510 (Dual Core) CPU and fanless operation. It can be configured with a 3-track magnetic stripe reader that accepts credit, debit, gift and staff cards, and an optional customer facing display. Incorporated into the system is a fingerprint reader for enhanced security and employee identity protection, and a thermal printer or cash drawer can be added.

MICROS Systems (www.micros.com) introduces the PCWS 2015, an all-in-one PC-based workstation featuring a 15-inch, high bright LED backlit touchscreen display. The small-footprint workstation is available with Microsoft Windows 7 or POSReady 2009, and can be equipped with either Intel Celeron or Core i5 processors. It features a wide operating temperature (0˚-45˚C), spill resistant casework with O-Ring sealed touch screen, integrated magnetic card reader and expansive I/O capabilities.

NCR Corp. (www.ncr.com) offers two new all-in-one POS solutions: the RealPOS 50 and the RealPOS 25. The RealPOS 50 features an energy-efficient processor to run the latest graphical touch-based applications, and the RealPOS 25 is targeted to small- and medium-sized businesses for energy efficiency, without requiring a cooling fan. Both terminals offer quick access to internal components and diagnostic indicators and can function either as a POS device or a touch-based, multimedia kiosk for self-service. Flexible mounting options let the terminals reside at the counter, or on a pole, bracket or wall, and bezel colors can be customized to match aesthetics and branding.

PAR Technology (www.partech.com) launched in May 2010 the PAR EverServ 6000 LP (low profile), a high-performance POS terminal with a contemporary, new design and a durable, shock- and spill-resistant casing. Cabling is minimized and hidden from view, and advanced cooling technology increases reliability. It also offers energy-saving features and an auto-standby mode to reduce overall power consumption. Also available is the EverServ 2000 series, with an i-Button receiver for safe data transfers and log-ins; an integrated three-track magnetic strip reader for secure credit card transactions; and an optional integrated customer display for order accuracy. The terminal features 100-degree display tilt and is built with a shock- and spill-resistant casing. It operates at low noise level with low power consumption, and the small footprint is ideal for locations where space is limited.

Radiant Systems Inc. (www.radiantsystems.com) now offers the value-priced P1515 POS terminal built with an Intel Atom chipset and solid-state technology to lower energy consumption. Featuring 15-inch resistive touchscreens, the units can connect to up to 10 peripherals and fit into a small footprint. The company now also offers Payment Guard MSR, an encrypted magnetic stripe reader installed within all Radiant point-of-sale hardware terminals. These magnetic stripe readers encrypt cardholder data on a physical level as soon as the card is swiped. In January 2011, Orderman, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Radiant Systems, launched its Columbus 700 and 300 POS terminals, extending the Orderman product line as the first POS terminal offering for the company. Columbus offers robust storage capabilities and Intel mobile chipset technology, with a low-voltage processor.

WHAT’S NEW: MOBILE POS
Action Systems Inc.’s (www.rmpos.com) Restaurant Manager Write-On Handheld became available for use with an iPod Touch in May 2010. When the Write-On Handheld software on an iPod touch is fitted with a magnetic strip reader (MSR), the device also offers a pay-at-the-table solution to speeds table turns.

Verifone Inc. (www.verifone.com) unveiled last April its VX Evolution payment solutions with VeriShield Protect technology built-in to support end-to-end encryption of card data. The VX 680, one of four options in the line, is a mobile payment device featuring more memory and power, with a large color display touchscreen and full range of communication options for Wi-Fi, GPRS, CDMA and Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, the company introduced its PAYware Mobile secure credit card encryption sleeve for iPhone, with a stylus for signature capture and a mini-USB port for charging the iPhone while the sleeve is attached. Both the accompanying App and card encryption technology are provided free in conjunction with a PAYware gateway services agreement.

WHAT’S NEW: PRINTERS
Axiohm/Cognitive TPG (www.axiohm.com) released in February the A799 point-of-sale printer, with a standard 4-year warranty, increased memory upgrade (4MB) to support additional fonts and paper-saving multi-column printing, and at a lower price point starting at $400. Key features include drop-and-print paper loading, two-color printing with marketing and promotional software, ceramic knife auto-cutter, and all standard communication interfaces.

Brother International Corp.’s (www.brother-usa.com) new MFC-7000 series includes three mono laser all-in-one printer models ranging in price from $199 to $299. The MFC-7360N offers print speeds up to 24ppm; connectivity via Ethernet and hi-speed USB 2.0 interfaces; “Scan-to” functions for e-mail, file, image and OCR; and 32 MB of memory. The MFC-7460DN offers print speeds up to 27ppm, and automatic duplex for producing two-sided output, and the MFC-7860DW offers a number of step-up features over the other models, such as duplex printing and wireless networking. It also supports Brother iPrint&Scan, a free downloadable app, which allows wireless printing or scanning from an Apple mobile device or Android smartphone.

Citizen Systems America Corp. (www.citizen-systems.com) has four new printers for the hospitality market, and two are recapped here: The CT-S601 moves at a print speed of 200mm/second, sends the printer status back, and features three LEDs and a buzzer to indicate printer status and errors. It supports three-inch (83 and 80 mm) and two-inch (60 and 58 mm) paper widths, and a built-in power supply option is available. The unit also has memory switches making customization possible. The CT-S851 front exit printer offers 300mm/second print speed and a back lit graphic LCD display, and includes an editor to customize display messages. Like the CT-S601, it can send the printer status back, but also has a USB-Hub interface to hook up another input device such as a signature, PIN pad or biometric scanner. It can be desktop or wall-mounted and comes standard with USB interface, RS-232 serial or Centronics parallel interfaces.

Epson (pos.epson.com) introduced in 2010 the TM-T88V thermal printer with Energy Star qualified configurations and a 4-year warranty. Print speeds are up to 50 percent faster than the previous model (300mm per second), and it offers 16 levels of grayscale to ensure ultra-clear, crisp graphics. Other features include drop-in paper loading; an autocutter; easy-to-read LEDs; an improved cover design that prevents foreign objects, such as coins and other debris, from getting inside; dual interfaces (a built-in USB and one additional interface) to ensure easy integration; a paper reduction setting; and an optional case to store the power supply and secure cords under the printer. There is also an optional mounting bracket for hanging the printer on a wall. New in 2011, Epson also introduced the TM-H6000IV, a multi-function POS printer that improves upon its previous model. It is Energy Star qualified and can reduce receipt paper usage by more than 25 percent, according to the company. It also offers transaction speeds of up to 300mm per second, is compatible with a wide range of new and legacy systems, and has a MCBF of 96 million lines.

Star Micronics America Inc. (www.starmicronics.com) made its entrance in the portable printer arena with the SM-S200 and SM-T300. The SM-S200 is a 2-inch wide printer with a configurable auto-power- down mode, drop-in and print paper loading and a print speed of 80 mm per second, making it ideal for tableside ordering as well as “line-busting,” the company reports. It also offers an LCD display and magnetic stripe reader. The SM-T300 has a dust protected and splash-proof resistant design and long battery life, marketed for outdoor environments. The company also unveiled the FVP-10, a front loading, voice enabled printer offering onboard USB, receipt compression for paper saving, and a print speed of 250mm per second. It’s designed with a flat roof and front paper exit, and can be mounted under the counter to save space. Also, the flat roof design allows it to hold up to 7 pounds of accessories including POS peripherals such as a barcode scanner or credit card terminal.
 
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