Consider these 5 things when purchasing kiosk hardware
Tags: Components, Hardware, Installation/Integration, Manufacturers
February 28, 2013 - Michael Ionescu
Over the years I've worked with a number of different kiosk manufacturers. Over the course of those interactions I've learned a few things for potential resellers to look out for when selecting any digital kiosk. Here are five:
1. How organized are the inside components?
This seems like a relatively odd suggestion but you'd be surprised. The next time you're out vetting kiosk designs, take a look at how the manufacturer organizes and connects all of the components. If all of the wires are organized cleanly internally, it is typically an indication that the manufacturer has taken the time to think through construction thoughtfully and account for any minor problems. In some of my personal experiences, some past manufacturers did not wire the kiosks appropriately and wires could not reach the CPU and monitor. The rewiring required a lengthy dismantling of the hardware to make room. I've also had a model where the internal casing had a barely noticeable change from other models, but it caused the printer to jam constantly.
When selecting a kiosk, getting a detailed breakdown of the all of the components within the kiosk, i.e. credit card reader, monitor type, touchscreen, etc., are important. A good manufacturer should be able to provide this information. It seems picky but even small tiny differences in model numbers or devices can mean big headaches for a well operating kiosk. When bugs arise or if things aren't working right, having a detailed list of your hardware helps to quicken your ability to diagnose problems. In the long run, it can save a lot of money.
I've always felt like I'm a bigger fan of durability than most. I have provided numerous stress tests to each of my kiosks over the years. In looking for a good design, I try to make sure that every model I choose can survive some sort of fall. This is especially important in a public space. If the kiosk can't stand up to a little bit of punishment, how can it be expected to stand up to public use?
4. Ability to make repairs
Ease of repair and timeliness of repair are very important in terms of planning for long term affordability. When I purchase hardware I try to make sure it has as many off-the-shelf components as possible so that repairs can be made in the field quickly and easily. If a kiosk comes with proprietary equipment, the kiosk has to be shipped back to the manufacturer for an expensive repair. One of my manufacturers had proprietary CPU's and monitor connections that I could not repair unless I ordered new ones directly for a premium. Unless the kiosk network is going to be outside in the elements, off-the-shelf components should be fine for any self-service network.
5. Has the kiosk been built beyond the concept stages?
This is something I fell for when I first got into the business. I looked around the web for kiosk designs, and when I found one I fell in love with, the actual model looked very different from the model that was actually delivered. It was much bigger than expected and just plain uglier. As it turns out, the model had not actually been built beyond concept drawings and the real thing was very different from the concept. I've run into a lot of sites that offer kiosks with tons of customizability. It is important to understand that not all of those kiosks have indeed been built before to every specification. I have selected kiosks several times before and opted to equip it with the printer, only to be told later that the kiosk has never been built before with the printer, and that a redesign would be needed in order to accompany my needs.
Take some time to consider these five things. For me personally, it has been these five things that have given me the most problems and given my company the most headaches.