Let the terminal wars begin

Let the terminal wars begin

Dell Computer’s roster of hardware products now feature a device to help retailers count the money. The company’s new POS (point of sale) terminals, announced at the National Retail Foundation show in New York, combine an OptiPlex desktop with the familiar cash drawer and barcode scanner found at retail counters.

Dell spokesman Jon Weisblatt said the company saw the POS offerings as “just another addition to the portfolio.” The POS device, yet to be named, was designed for large corporations that already use Dell products in their data centres and cubicles, and want to standardise their hardware across the board, he said.

For a base price of $US1794, retailers can buy an Optiplex SX260 with a 2.0GHz Pentium 4 processor from Intel, 128MB of memory, a 20G-byte hard drive, Gigabit Ethernet connections, a 15-inch CRT (cathode ray tube) display, and Microsoft’s Windows XP. A thermal receipt printer, handheld barcode scanner, programmable keyboard and cash drawer come with the systems, and make this desktop a little different from the one that graces many cubicles.

Most retailers run POS applications specifically tailored to their business, so Dell partnered with software vendors such as Retek, AutoGas Systems, GERS, and MSS Global to make sure the client POS terminals will work with a customer’s back-end systems.

IBM and NCR were the leaders in the POS terminal market, Weisblatt said. If Dell repeated its strategy from other business lines, it would compete aggressively on price.

Dell has sought to diversify its products offerings amid a global slump in PC sales, although the company continues to grow its PC market share. At Comdex in November, Dell announced an inexpensive handheld device meant to compete directly against PC arch rival Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) Compaq iPaq, and earlier last year said it would enter the printer market — HP’s bread and butter — with Lexmark International.

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