NCR RealPOS represents the latest evolution of design for usability and reliability thinking around retail point-of-sale (POS) devices.
Consumer-grade PCs and POS devices based on generic or general purpose designs normally have a 12 to 18 month lifecycle before the manufacturer moves to a new offering. These changes affect the gold image and compatibility with peripherals. NCR has historically offered five years of production and five years or more of service after discontinuation of our hardware production. This allows our customers to leverage their hardware investment for ten years and beyond.
Retailer experience proves that changing models or components during deployment results in higher costs due to image changes and the complexity to test applications and peripherals on multiple platforms. Vendors who focus on general purpose/consumer grade PCs are not concerned about supporting multi-year rollouts and long term parts availability. Multiple variations of the product cause increased support risk and cost.
Often our competitive analysis and testing indicates that some suppliers’ terminals are designed with plastic, light sheet metal, and hinges that are not intended for a retailer’s use case. A common example is weak stands that do not create a stable platform for touchscreen usage. NCR insists on heavier gauge metal parts and plastic parts resistant to impact, fire and ultra-violet (UV) light. Plus, whenever possible, durable die-cast aluminum is incorporated into our chassis design.
PCs and many POS device suppliers leverage the lowest cost components available at the time of production and change the technology often to take advantage of commodity market trends. Our choice of materials differentiates NCR terminals from most other suppliers.
In addition, NCR specifies an extended operating temperature range, and all components from capacitors to CPUs must be able to perform in those environments without failure. This level of design detail is part of our extensive retail hardening. Many POS device vendors are offering the lowest cost solution, but fail to focus on delivering a product with long-term sustainability.
- Designed & Tested for Retail Environments
A retail environment exposes terminals to extreme conditions including increased temperatures, dirt, dust, grime, shock, vibration, spills, magnetic fields, and radio frequency (RF) interference. All of these conditions are uncommon in a typical home or office environment. NCR products are tested thoroughly so that they will perform correctly and survive in these harsh environments.
NCR POS devices are designed to endure heavy daily use and accidents that may occur throughout the life of the product. Retail terminals are heavily used and subjected to stress on a daily basis. NCR conducts a variety of operational vibration tests to simulate the abuse a POS device may encounter in a retail environment. This could be from years of opening and closing cash drawers and from constant usage operating on the sales floor.
Point-of-sale devices must be able to survive many years in harsh environments that can generate dust and airborne contaminants. Many POS devices are based on traditional consumer product designs where dust and other airborne contaminants are not a primary concern. If proper airflow is not maintained, the terminal can run hotter which reduces the life of the electronic components. Or, in worst case scenarios, the system can overheat and shutdown or fail. Many of our systems are fan-less which means no dust or debris will be ingested. Those terminals requiring active cooling have venting and cooling system components carefully designed to maintain proper airflow. In addition, NCR designs and tests POS devices so they can accommodate years of dust buildup.
Many competitors’ POS devices are designed to operate in pristine environments that are rarely subject to extremes of radio frequency (RF) or electromagnetic interference. The reality is that retailers frequently integrate POS devices with a variety of RF devices and electromagnetic devices, such as security system de-activation coils for electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems. NCR has the experience to design our products to co-exist with these devices. This prevents integration conflicts, which results in fewer support or service calls and reduced downtime.
- Other Purpose-Built Characteristics
Retail environments rarely have an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) backup system that can prevent power cycles or fluctuations. To help verify that all components, firmware and the BIOS are robust when a power drop or outage occurs, NCR conducts extensive cycle testing under heavy load and varied voltage ranges. This is designed to expose any weakness in the power circuits or system base functionality that would cause a field failure during power interruptions. Every cable that attaches to a POS device has two potential failure points: one connection on each end.
For many years NCR has stressed the importance of using powered connectors with latches for peripheral connections. This will reduce the number of cables and ensure once the cable is connected, it stays firmly in place. NCR offers several unique features that differentiate our products from all other POS device suppliers.
The RealPOS™ X-Series family of POS devices contain a non-volatile memory device to store historical metrics about the terminal such as: system uptime, primary screen on-time, good/bad magnetic stripe reader (MSR) swipes, system startup and shutdown count, cash drawer open count, system fan on-time, CPU throttle time, and hard drive reads and errors. This type of data can be used to proactively service the terminal based on usage data or simply improve the service diagnostic analysis resulting in fewer calls and more accurate, speedy fixes.