Mobile Point of Sale: What hardware is best?

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of mobile POS for restaurants.  If not, check out this white paper we published through Hospitality Technology. But now that you know you are interested in a wireless POS system, there are a lot of decisions to make about the specifics. We are frequently asked about different hardware options for the Write-On Handheld POS system. In the 10 years since its introduction, the Write-On has been available on several hardware platforms. Combining the feedback we’ve heard from end-users and our own product testing, here are our thoughts on the best hardware options for mobile POS:

Why we love the iPod touch for mobile POS

1. It’s low cost: Compared to Windows Mobile devices or an iPad, which can run up to $900 or more, an iPod touch is very affordable at $250.

2. It fits in one hand, a pocket, or an apron: The iPod is easy to carry when serving tables, checking on drinks, or going to the kitchen. This means servers don’t need to set it down to perform other tasks besides taking orders, reducing the chance that it is misplaced, stolen, or damaged.

3. It’s familiar to servers: The familiar interface of the iPod touch cuts server training time.

4. It’s compatible with great products: Adding a mobile payment device turns the Write-On Handheld into both a mobile payment and a wireless order taking tool.

5. It’s durable: Durability is one of the most common questions we’re asked about the iPod. For years, the Write-On Handheld was available on much more rugged looking windows mobile devices but we found that not only were those devices cumbersome, they also broke when taking the beating a busy restaurant environment can deliver. With a case or pay-at-the-table device, the iPod holds up as well or better than these other options and it’s much less expensive to replace or fix.

What about the iPad?

The iPad offers one major advantage over other options; larger screen space. For software that attempts to merely shrink the POS screen to a mobile size, this is an important feature. Compared to the iPod, however, the iPad has many of the same problems as Windows Mobile hardware; it is cumbersome to carry while waiting tables and expensive to purchase or replace. If the mobile POS device used can’t be easily carried while working, it will be set down, increasing the chances that it is lost, stolen, or damaged.

While the iPad is a potentially beneficial option to replace a fixed POS station, it does not fit the task of mobile POS hardware the same way the iPod touch does.

Making the right choice


When choosing which hardware platform you want to use for a mobile POS system, ask yourself these questions?

  • Will servers be comfortable using this hardware?
  • Will servers be able to carry it and perform all their tasks?
  • What will I do if one is lost, stolen, or broken?
  • How much will it cost to buy, fix, and replace?
  • Is the software a native app for this hardware? (this will affect how smoothly the software runs and how well it conforms to the screen space restrictions)


Learn more about the Write-On Handheld POS system for mobile order taking and payment on the iPod Touch. 

Author: Remigijus Pavydis