Star TSP100ECO

December 8, 2010

Everybody wants to go green, minimize their ecological footprint, or just generally build the good feelings acquired from separating the glass from plastics. The real bummer on that last one is if you see the recycling guys throw everything into one bin on the back of the truck. Anyway, retailers and restauranteurs have had a hard time trying to cut waste at their point of sale. PCs are a little more energy efficient, but I’m sure receipt printers are left on overnight or when they’re not needed, so you inadvertently use more electricity.

Star has built the TSP100ECO with conservation in mind, and it sounds like they’ve done quite a lot to get there. They’ve made tweaks to cut energy usage, paper usage, even plastic usage in manufacture, so you can feel good upgrading to these printers and like throwing out the old ones I guess. Right off the bat, they removed the power switch, so instead of employees forgetting to switch it off at night, the printer will turn itself off if the computer it’s attached to is turned off. So boom, there’s some energy savings. Then during the rest of the day, when the printer’s only printing every once in a while, the TSP100ECO switches into a low power mode, so you’re not sapping energy waiting to print. Star claims you can use up to 40% less electricity that comparable receipt printers, which is pretty solid savings.

Next up, paper waste is pretty horrible, right? I mean, it’s not like this stuff grows on trees. (beat pause) Star added some pretty wicked abilities both in the TSP100ECO and in their futurePRNT software, so you can cut your paper usage by up to 70%. I don’t know how much paper people use at businesses. Let’s say a case a month, so 50 rolls burned through. You go through all of Star’s tweaks and you could cut usage to 15 rolls a month. Twelve cases in a year cut down to about 4. Not only did you just save a tree, but you can use that saved up cash to replace the lightbulbs in the bathroom.

The big tweak is that you can cut the top margin from 11 mm to 3 mm. On a 6-inch (152 mm) average length receipt, you’ll end up saving one whole receipt after 15 prints. Boom. Not tremendous savings, but it’s a start. Receipts can also be shrunk vertically, cutting lengths in half. An even greater savings comes from the TSP100ECO’s ability to print to 58 mm receipts without having to reformat your POS Software to support it. 80 mm is the standard receipt width, so scaling it down you save about 27% on width and up to 50% on length of the receipt. Granted, you have to switch over to the smaller format, but all the converting is done in the futurePRNT driver so it’s not too big a task.

Say you run a donut shop, or maybe a smoke shop or something, a place where customers may purchase one item with cash and don’t really need historical transcript of the transaction. Unless they want to file the receipt under D, for donut. Or delicious. futurePRNT can prompt your employees if they need to print the receipt, so it saves a digital copy of the receipt for your records, and the customer doesn’t get extra paper with their apple fritter. Apple fritters, by the way, are the premier baked good.

And finally, Star is creating the plastic shell out of halogen-free recycled plastic. So no PCBs or PFCs or other gross plastics that are toxic or bioaccumulate in people. Bioaccumulate sounds pretty nasty.

I’ve seen the TSP100ECO in use at a couple local restaurants, and I haven’t noticed any dip in performance, which is great. Receipts print out at about 6″ per second, which isn’t really the fastest on the market right now but it blows impact printing out of the water. I’d definitely recommend this to businesses looking to buy a new receipt printer. It’s a double whammy of ecological and economical savings, how can you go wrong?

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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.

My friends like to send me weird stuff they find on the internet involving pos hardware, and this video shows a great way to waste rolls of receipt paper. Hopefully he’s using standard paper & not thermal, I can’t imagine thermal paper to be good to ingest. Nor that tasty.

Over the past month or so, we’ve been hammering out a plan to get a few more people from the company writing about their experiences. I’d like to introduce the newest member of the club, our support manager. He’s been dropping knowledge bombs here for about 4 years, and was actually the person who hired me on to be a tech nerd in the first place.

He’ll be better equipped to explain the ins and outs of his job, but usually he’s fielding the calls that his army of tech nerds can’t handle anymore. The customers who can be heard, over the phone, in the other room. The one who we’re still talking to despite every other word coming out of their mouth being an explitive.

In the coming weeks we’ll be adding in some sales success stories. The ones that really explain why we love what we do, and may help you out if you’re looking into adding data capture or pos hardware to your business but don’t know where to start.

Not too much is going on for big interesting stuff, I may have a post in a couple days about POS-X doing a pretty solid product shakeup or their receipt printer and pos accessory lineup.

A couple weeks ago, we met our new representative from Transaction Printer Group, or TPG. For the uninitiated, manufacturer representatives are people who get paid to fly all over the earth and talk about how awesome their existing products are, and how awesome their new products will be. They also buy us lunch the first time we meet them. I really dig on the lunch.

Anyway, TPG guy let us know they had two totally amazing printers available, the A798 and A799. They’re both incredibly similar, down to coming in the same body. One’s super fast, can print in two colors, and I think it’ll even do your taxes. The second one is half as fast, only prints one color, and is more budget oriented. And it was up to me to write two unique product descriptions to make them both sound worth buying.

Generally, I’ve found the best method to approach this situation is to write about the lower end model first. Then it sounds awesome, but the better product sounds AMAZING. It helps me to focus on the strengths of both products as opposed to only seeing the differences between the two.

Unfortunately, I was still pretty out of it after a business excursion and decided to put the fancy printer up first. There’s a post it on my desk now to let me know to never do that again.

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