Many restaurant operators have, in recent years, considered replacing or augmenting their traditional POS system with an iPad POS system. However, given that the iPad is a consumer-grade device, is an iPad POS system really suitable—in other words, rugged enough—for deployment in a restaurant environment? The likely answer is “no,” and here’s why not.
- The components of an iPad POS system are not spill-resistant. Whether being used by wait staff to take orders and transmit them to the kitchen or for any other purpose, tablets used as part of an iPad POS system are bound to come into contact with spilled beverages and other liquids. But unlike ruggedized tablet-based POS systems, no iPad POS system hardware features a significantly durable seepage-resistant housing or seal that staves off damage resulting from spills by preventing liquids from coming into contact with computer components. Manufacturers of ruggedized tablets even give their devices an “ingress protection” (IP) rating whose second digit indicates their level of imperviousness to liquids on a scale of one to eight.
- The components of an iPad POS system cannot handle drops. Dropping an iPad to a hard restaurant floor can result in all sorts of problems with the unit, from superficial damage (e.g., scratches) to a cracked or shattered screen that might make it difficult or impossible to read the display. Internal damage to the sensitive circuitry inside the unit may also occur, allowing only a portion of the display to be visible on the screen or causing a lack of response when pressing the power button.
Repairing an inoperable or damaged iPad not only costs money, but also can have a negative impact on your business due to having fewer working units in your iPad POS system. . This will not happen with ruggedized tablets, whose shatter-resistant displays, shock-absorbing housing, and other accoutrements make them physically “hardened” and therefore able to withstand potentially rough treatment and tough restaurant environments.
- The components of an iPad POS system do not resist excessive heat, cold and dust. While extreme temperatures are not typically a problem, restaurant operators may want to use the tablet portion of their iPad POS system in environments that may be somewhat hot (e.g., the kitchen or an outdoor dining patio) or very cold (e.g., the walk-in refrigerator or freezer, for taking inventory). Exposure to excessive heat or cold may eventually cause an iPad POS system or device to stop working when operators need it most—for example, to quickly help hurried, harried customers settle their bill at the table without a wait or to accommodate more patrons outdoors in pleasant weather and/or when the indoor dining room is full. Conversely, while the degree of resistance to high and low temperatures varies from device to device, all ruggedized tablets have it in one form or another.
Moreover, ruggedized tablets feature seals that do not allow dust—which can compromise the function of components—to penetrate them. iPad POS system hardware is usually not safeguarded in the same manner.
- Employees and customers are more likely to steal an iPad than they are a tablet. Tablets deployed as part of an iPad POS system generally lack locking mechanisms and/or other theft deterrents generally found on ruggedized devices. The look and feel of consumer-grade iPads may also make them more attractive to thieves than ruggedized tablets.
There is no denying that iPad POS systems are an appealing option for restaurant owners in light of their price and employees’ likely familiarity with the units. However, the tablet technology that forms the base of these systems is not rugged enough for commercial use. Restaurant owners would do better to explore ruggedized models which, to quote a Timex watch advertisement of years past, “take a licking and keep on ticking.”