Packaged v. Unpackaged Printers
Packing a Punch
By Annette Tarlton, Marketing Director Star Micronics EMEA
Depending on the nature of the application, the type of printing solution will obviously differ. Typically used for high volume applications in remote locations, the open frame printer has, to date, dominated the marketplace, offering high performance for unattended public operation. Printers such as Star’s TUP992 offer a presenter that provides long term, reliable delivery of the receipt, ticket, etc. Coupled with a large capacity paper roll, multi-position adjustable near-end paper sensor and a choice of interfaces including USB and Ethernet, this printer offers the user an effective printing solution for most kiosk projects.
Although typically favoured for high volume transport ticketing applications, vending applications are also experiencing the benefits of such technology. Kiosk builders such as OmniVend, a leading supplier and operator of electronic vending systems, use the TUP992 within its vending system to print a voucher/ticket/slip that is then redeemed to activate the product.
However, cost, size and an inherent complexity are issues that have limited the more widespread use of the open frame printer – and this is where the packaged printer has gained an advantage in recent years. Driven by advances in POS printing technology, the packaged printer is now no longer just in the realm of the retail outlet, but is being increasingly integrated into low-volume, high-value kiosk applications.
A packaged printer can simply and easily be installed and replaced, and it is precisely this simplicity and ease of use that is driving its greater use today. Not only is this type of printer easier to install, service and maintain, today’s models can now also offer the same levels of performance and reliability as an open frame printer. This is why companies such as Vodafone, Jessops and Vue Cinemas have adopted packaged printers for their top-up kiosks, digital photo kiosks and self-service kiosks, respectively.
Today’s packaged printers can also offer a wealth of additional features, and their advanced functionality can add real value to any kiosk project. Companies such as Star Micronics have taken the simple receipt printer and added a range of POS marketing tools that truly enhance the versatility of the kiosk. This is demonstrated in many new kiosk designs, notably the GreenSpot kiosk recently designed and developed in Sweden by leading distributor Origum Distribution AB.
Launched in September 2007, the GreenSpot kiosk platform is a unique and versatile concept allowing users to design and tailor a kiosk to meet their individual requirements. The flexibility of this solution is highlighted by the fact that the kiosk can be easily assembled and disassembled on site and moved to different locations. Furthermore, future upgrades and additions are readily available, as all options use standard components.
Equipped with the very latest technology, including the TSP100 futurePRNT thermal receipt printer from Star Micronics, the versatility of this solution is further enhanced by the option of being able to add coupons or vouchers to receipts without the need for a high level of IT expertise or system software changes. As the TSP100 futurePRNT is provided with a range of software tools at no extra cost this facility can effectively turn the kiosk into not only a valuable and powerful marketing tool, but also a significant revenue generator.
Expanding the range of packaged printers available today, Star Micronics has built on the success of its TSP600 printer to develop a high spec, entry-level receipt printer using the very latest leading-edge components which truly takes entry-level data processing to a completely new level. Capable of producing 19 receipts per minute with graphics and 20 lines of text, the TSP650 prints at 150mm per second, offering unrivalled processing power and outstanding data throughput. With its easy-load ‘Drop-In & Print’ design, the printer has a full or partial cutter, compact footprint and choice of 58mm or 80mm paper widths. The sheer versatility of this printer is further highlighted by its fast, effective two colour output and its ability to print high quality barcodes for coupons or tickets on media up to 85gsm.
As kiosk design continues to evolve, so the packaged printer will increasingly become the printer of choice for low volume applications. Given its ease of use, reliability and additional features, this type of printer will, without doubt, be used in an ever wider range of kiosk applications across Europe. But the specific advantages of the open frame kiosk printer, in terms of its reliability and performance in high volume applications, will also ensure its continued importance within a rapidly changing kiosk environment.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008