Restaurant POS Equipment: Types of Input Devices

In restaurant POS systems, it is important that you know about the input devices that are needed in order for your business to run as you want it to be.
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Aug. 3, 2009 - PRLog -- Input devices - Restaurant POS Equipment

Point of Sale Equipment: Keyboards and touch screens

Choosing which input devices to use as your point of sale equipment should be one of the important tasks listed in your checklist. Choosing whether to go with a touch screen or a programmable keyboard helps you save time and money. The only market where keyboards are mostly used is grocery stores, because it has the ability to program individual keys for specific item codes and prices.

Touch screens are more intuitive to use than keyboards for many users. Touch screens also provides flexibility in the user interface and programming, where it eliminates costly staff traning. Most touch screens sold these days are based on flat-screen LCDs instead of traditional CRT monitors. While LCD touch screens are slightly more expensive (typically $600 - $1,000 instead of $400 - $500), they are sturdier, uses less electricity, and space-saving. They also look much better. With both CRT and LCD displays, avoid "overlay" touch screens that are added on to regular monitors - they are more prone to breakdowns and add an unnecessary complication to your system.

For keyboards, . Others are smaller, more POS-specific devices, such as the flat-panel membrane keyboards you often see on fast food outlets. Often, POS keyboards come with built-in magnetic stripe readers for processing credit cards. Most programmable keyboards usually go for between $150 and $300.

It doesn't matter which POS equipment you use, make sure you consider the environment where it will be used. Both keyboards and touch screens are available with varying levels of spill and dust-proofing.

Point of Sale Equipment: POS Scanners
All scanners work in the same basic manner, reading a bar code and sends the information back to the computer. They typically connect to the system through Y-connectors called wedges that make them function as an extension of the keyboard. Bar code scanning can improve speed and accuracy during checkout.

Low-end scanners are based on charge-coupled device (CCD) technology. They cost less, but usually have a very short range - an item being scanned needs to be 1 to 3 inches from the scanner. In a typical retail setting, this should be fine.

Laser scanners uses a beam of light in order to read bar codes, they offer much better scanning ability since they are able to scan at long distances. Some laser scanners are "autosensing," meaning they turn themselves on when an item is placed in front of them, scan the code, and then turn off again. Omnidirectional scanners send out 15 or 20 lasers simultaneously, letting you scan bar codes from any angle. And the top of the line are embedded scanners, which you commonly see in supermarkets located below the counter.

Properlu use different types of scanners to serve customers. If you do not usually have more than a customer or two in line, CCDs or entry-level laser scanners should be able to do the job. In a fairly constant flow of customers you might want to use an autosensing model for speeding up sales transanctions, and very high volume businesses should investigate omnidirectional or embedded scanners. Prices range from below $100 for the most basic CCD scanners to $350 or more for omnidirectional laser scanners.

Point of Sale Equipment: Handheld POS terminal
The latest type of input device is the handheld, wireless terminal. Essentially a PDA, it can take orders and wirelessly transmits it back to a base station. A great advantage this POS equipment can provide to a restaurant is that they increase the amount of time servers spend on taking orders on the floor and interacting with customers, because it eliminates the need to go back to a terminal to process orders.

Newer still are write-on handhelds: think about combining touch screens with PDAs, this tiny input device allow servers to simply write the orders down. Handwriting recognition software parses the order then sends it on to the kitchen and bar as needed.

Handheld terminals are more expensive than traditional touch-screen order terminals. However they can make up for the cost by upselling your customers more desserts and drinks. If you are evaluating handheld terminals, make sure you ask about the "drop test" - units are rated for toughness according to how much of a fall they can survive. To find out if your business is a candidate for handheld POS terminals, compare multiple POS equipment vendors to learn what products and services they offer.

For more information on restaurant POS equipment or to have a local POS professional serving the restaurant industry, you may visit

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