Very rarely does POS equipment make its way onto sites like Engadget or Gizmodo, but hey sometimes interesting stuff happens. This time it was a video of hardware that can make your receipt printer print out the constitution.

From the article, this is the work of Thibault Brevet, a Swiss artist, who showed off his work at SXSW. The trigger system is apparently a small computer type thing that just fires out the proper commands over to the printer and boom, constitution! Gizmodo claims it’s any receipt printer, but it looks like there are some specifics to the setup. Namely, the printer needs a serial port in order to communicate with the crazy trigger system, and given that it’s an Epson TM-T88V, I assume the commands are sent using ESC/POS. Many printers do support ESC/POS, though sometimes it’s not always exact.

It is interesting to see POS hardware used in unconventional ways. Kind of like using mobile computers to play a song.

Earlier one of my coworkers sent me a couple links to two Epson calculators, one for how much paper you’ll save using Epson’s paper reduction techniques, and one for how much money you’ll save using one of their energy star compliant printers over a competitor printer. It’s great to see back-of-the-envelope math being used outside of bars and anywhere else you might have the back of an envelope.

This one is probably the easiest to spot savings, since media is a pretty established cost. I guess Epson’s receipt printers can reduce usage 10%, 20%, or 30%, so that makes calculations pretty straightforward. It’s also pretty easy to calculate savings on one’s own, if your yearly paper bill is something on the order of $1,000, 30% paper reduction should result in a new bill of $700. But that’s also a raw estimate and not as fun as a whole page with sliders & whatnot. And sometimes it helps to have a third party verify your calculations, especially when trying to justify an expenditure to a supervisor.

Of the two, this can be a bit more nebulous. You do have the ability to set your rates per KWh and over what span, which is a great way to see about how much it’ll cost to run the device. What makes it a little tougher is that the list of comparable products is relatively limited. Within the thermal section, you have a robust selection of Epson printers, but for competitors you have Star, Ithaca, Citizen, NCR, Bixolon, Toshiba, and Beiyang. I guess I was hoping to see CognitiveTPG, or maybe POS-X up in the list.

Both of these are definitely aimed at larger retailers with multiple checkstands. Especially the energy saver one, where the difference between a ReadyPrint T20 and TSP100ECO over 5 years is $0.25 savings. However, if you have a grocery store or department store with 10 to 20 printers in use, the savings really starts to add, and that’s important to see. It’s also nice to have a hard monetary value associated with the general warm feelings you might get knowing you’re cutting back on usage. It’s like an extrinsic reward to go with the intrinsic.

I talked about the Seiko Qaliber a couple months ago, but we also have a video review up to really show off the features and capabilities of Seiko’s new receipt printer. That glowing light by the auto cutter is just a great accent. And it can be changed to a couple other colors if you want to match your business’s aesthetic.


Seiko QaliberSeiko, the makers of fancy watches, is taking a stab at building receipt printers. Their Qaliber RP-E is available and offers pretty strong performance at a good price.

So the Qaliber (pronounced Caliber and not Kwaliber) is a cube, 5 inches on a side, which is an interesting aesthetic and adds to the printer’s stackability. It’s available with standard topside printing and also front-feeding, in case you need to mount it under a desk or you want to put something on top of it, like a stylish vase. I think the only difference is how the labeling on the front is oriented, so you could have both top and front-feed functionality from either printer.

So you see that glowy blue glowiness on the printer? That’s an LED bar that chan change color depending on your preference. So say you want it to be green, you mess with the driver and boom, green LEDs. Seiko says it does a few shades of blue/green for regular mode, then red/magenta for errors. It’s a pretty striking accent and could help make counter space look a little nicer.

In terms of performance, the Qaliber lines up nicely with higher end printers. A near 14″ per second print speed is remarkably fast, hopefully nobody gets papercuts as a result of impatiently trying to grab the receipt. Time for some math: a standard receipt paper roll is 220 feet long, 2,640 inches. Just firing out one gigantic 220-foot receipt would take the Qaliber 3 minutes and about 10 seconds. Whereas a competing printer with an 11.8″ per second print speed would take 3 minutes and 43 seconds. A full half a minute per roll, or twenty five minutes per box of paper. It’s crazy to see how this scales up so quickly.

The Qaliber’s also built for long lasting performance. The printhead is rated at 99 miles of printed receipts, or 2,376 rolls of receipts, or 125 hours of straight printing. Its autocutter provides over 2 million cuts, which just sounds like a ton of receipts. It also ships with a 3-year warranty, which is pretty standard for printers.

Bottom line: The Seiko Qaliber receipt printer is a high-performance option for retailers wanting to speed their checkout process. The unique design and stylish accents make it a great way to maintain a clean, modern look at your checkstand as well.

We did a video a couple years ago covering the Epson TM-T88V and Epson ReadyPrint T20 receipt printers, including the difference in print speeds. Receipt printer speeds are always kind of nebulous. You can read all these data sheets and product descriptions and come to the conclusion that the TM-T88V is 6 better than the ReadyPrint T20, or maybe twice as fast, but until you see them side-by-side, it’s difficult to grasp what 6 better really entails.

Some ingenious nerds at have converted an old Epson TM-T88 printer to drive a racing game called Receipt Racer. It’s a pretty solid waste of paper, but given how many receipts end up in the trash immediately after printing, it seems like a net push. You can also play the not receipt version of the game on their site.

receipt racer from d_effekt on Vimeo.

Epson TM-T88V

May 27, 2010

WordPress has some fun analytics and stats for how visitors find the site, and lately I’ve been getting a lot of traction on the term TM-T88V. Apparently I tossed a typo up on the TM-T88IV video review post and thought people were hitting the site off their own typo. And then I got a press release about the Epson TM-T88V receipt printer, and a couple requests to get it up on the site. So it’s sharing time!

The TM-T88V receipt printer continues Epson’s quest for the ultimate printing experience. At a blisteringly fast 11.8″ per second, the TM-T88V is the fastest receipt printer on the market. Stock up on bandaids because your employees are going to suffer from chronic paper cuts after you install this printer. It’s also 50% faster than the TM-T88IV, so if they keep that pace the TM-T88X will print at 83″ per second. I can’t wait for that, the paper will just appear magically.

The mean time between failures (MTBF) is a determination of how long a product can operate before it fails to the point that it has to be sent in for repair. It’s usually calculated in hours run, and is a sign of how awesome a product is. The TM-T88V has a MTBF of 360,000 hours. I love back of the envelope math, and that’s a little over 41 years of constant use. 41 years. Who does that. So one of these printers is like 340 bucks, that cuts it down to $8.30 per year, or $0.001 per hour of use. Tenth of a cent per hour, and that’s the average failure time.

Either receipt printer manufacturers got tired of returns on legacy hardware or USB interfaces actually cut production costs, because almost every company is building dual interface USB/Legacy receipt printers nowadays, and the TM-T88V is no exception. I guess it helps that a product with a potential 41 year lifespan has the potential to connect to current computers. I really do appreciate the dual interface method; as a tech supporter I used to feel horribly when a customer would get a new PC and try to install their parallel printer on their now USB-only PC.

Energy and resource-efficiency is gaining footholds in the POS industry and so now manufacturers are starting to apply these techniques to their printer lines. Star’s TSP100ECO and now the Epson TM-T88V are Energy Star compliant, so you can save on energy costs and maybe even media. The TM-T88V also allows for print options & configurations so you can use less paper per receipt. So if you combine the printer with its low energy & paper usage with BPA free paper, you can get some pretty solid karma and good feelings. Dude. Karma.

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