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The Pros and Cons of Bluetooth Devices with iPad POS

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 @ 10:07 AM

wireless credit card terminalWireless technology is great, isn’t it? There are all kinds of devices that are now free from cables and cords for communication. In the point of sale world, Bluetooth is usually associated with receipt printers and barcode scanners. Using this short-range wireless technology as part of your point of sale setup has some benefits as well as a few challenges. Here are some things to expect out of your Bluetooth devices, and a few methods for troubleshooting connection issues.

The Benefits of Bluetooth

Organization and Presentation – When your point of sale system is sitting on your counter, it looks far more professional when you can eliminate some cords, and organize the rest. You might have to keep a power cord, but at the very least, you can get rid of the communication cables.

Higher Mobility – Feel free to move around with Bluetooth devices connected. Take your POS with you when you put your iPad on a hand strap, a scanner on a lanyard around your neck, and a printer on a belt clip. No more being tethered to the sales counter. It’s perfect for helping out as a line buster.

Self-contained – One advantage Bluetooth has over WiFi, it’s wireless counterpart, is the communication method is direct between devices. Wireless devices that communicate over WiFi rely on a separate router, adding to the cost. It is also another point of failure. If the router gets bogged down or loses power, your peripherals won’t work either.

The Challenges of Bluetooth

Single Connections – There are some cases where the ability to share a printer between systems is required. Bluetooth devices must be uniquely paired to a single iPad at a time. For example, if there are six registers on the counter, and they all need to send orders to the kitchen, a separate Bluetooth printer would be required for each register. On the flip side, a single iPad can send to multiple printers, so there wouldn’t be an issue sending to bother a receipt printer and a kitchen printer.

Interference and Dropped Signal – The nature of Bluetooth is such that it continuously scans for signals. Due to the relatively short range of the signal, this usually doesn’t cause issues. When a large number of devices are in a small space, interference can cause the connected devices to get bumped off. We have seen cases where large crowds at festivals or conventions, most with Bluetooth enabled cell phones, cause printers to disconnect.

Touchscreen Keyboard Disappears – There are some occasions where a Bluetooth Socket scanner overrides the ability for an iPad to display an on-screen keyboard. This usually only occurs when the scanner is first paired with the iPad, and the fix is easy if you know what to do. Instruction are found below.

Troubleshooting Bluetooth Devices

Star_TSP650II_300x300.jpgBluetooth Printers (Star Micronics TSP 650II) – The Bluetooth printer we typically use with our iPads is the Star TSP650 II. This is a very common printer for iPad POS Systems. If you are using a different model printer, there may be some slight variations in procedures.  Printer issues are usually accompanied by a message in the POS system saying something like, “Failed to Open Printer Port” or “No Printer Connected” or “Failed to Activate Drawer Kick”. Generally, here are is the order of troubleshooting.

  • Verify the printer has been set up within your POS App.
  • Check the iPad settings and verify the Bluetooth printer is still connected.
  • Toggle Bluetooth off and on.
  • Attempt to re-pair the printer.
  • Perform a factory reset on the printer.
  • Switch to a backup printer. Here is the step by step guide for each stage.

scanner_on_white_bkg.jpgBluetooth Scanner (Socket Mobile CHS 7Ci) – There are only a couple issues that seem to pop up with the scanners. See the following list for the tricks and the solutions.

Issue:        The on-screen keyboard won’t pop up if the scanner is on.
Solution:    Press the scanner power button two times twice quickly.

Issue:         The scanner will beep or vibrate when scanning, but doesn’t register in the POS app
Solution:    The scanner mode needs to be set to iOS mode. The configuration barcodes are found in the ScannerSettings app. Turn off Bluetooth. Scan the factory default barcode. Scan the iOS configuration barcode. Turn on Bluetooth then repair the scanner. Detailed instructions are found on our Troubleshooting pageIssue:        The scanner has been restored to default settings, is new or is moving from another iPad.

Solution:   The scanner needs to be paired with the iPad. While the scanner is powered on, enter pairing mode by holding the scan button and power button simultaneously. Press the power button to turn in on and it will be ready to pair. Full instructions are found on our Troubleshooting page.

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Tags: Service, Point Of Sale, Maintenance, iPad

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