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Tablet vs. Traditional POS: Which System Is Right for You?

Tablet vs. Traditional POS: Which System Is Right for You?

When you start the journey to find the right POS system for your new business, you may quickly realize that all POS systems use either a stand-alone or traditional POS computer or a tablet computer. There are pros and cons to both types. There are even some benefits to using both in the same business. Depending on your business’s needs, one may be more favorable than the other. To help you decide which option is right for your business, we explain the differences between tablet and traditional POS systems.


An obvious difference between the two systems is mobility. A tablet is lighter and designed for carrying around. A traditional POS computer is not. But that doesn’t mean a POS tablet is only for carrying, and you can never set it down. Most POS tablets can have some kind of stand that keeps them locked into place. You can attach these stands to a cash drawer and printer. They will also charge the tablet and keep it from theft. In a way, these stands can turn a POS tablet into a traditional POS station. This means that in the right business, you can have them act as traditional POS stations, then pull the tablets out and use them as line busters.

Tablet vs. Traditional POS: Which System Is Right for You?


With both traditional POS computers and POS tablets, there are a few options when it comes to screen size. Traditional POS computers can have a 14-inch square screen or a 15-inch screen that is rectangular. Some software may require one or the other. With POS tablets, the most common screen sizes are 7, 10, and 12 inches. If you’re a restaurant owner and use servers, the 7-inch tablet might first appeal to you. Watch out, though. While a 7-inch tablet may fit nicely into a server’s apron, its product buttons may be too small to press without making mistakes.


To put it bluntly, POS tablets will always cost more. However, the sticker price might not show it. There are a couple of reasons for this. You can buy ruggedized, commercial-grade POS tablets that have a thick case around them, which protects them from drops, scratches, and spills. These tablets can also hold the swiper, chip reader, and scanner. The price of these tablets will reflect all the features and additional hardware inside them. Or, if you want to go with a more consumer-grade POS tablet, such as Apple, you’ll have to find your own case to protect it. Even with a case, there’s still a greater chance of damaging it than with a commercial-grade tablet. So you should factor that into the cost.

Tablet vs. Traditional POS: Which System Is Right for You?

Wi-Fi Network

One thing every POS tablet needs that a traditional POS computer does not need is a strong, long-range, private Wi-Fi network. If the Wi-Fi signal is too weak, or you’re using the tablet on the edge of the network, you can encounter several issues. Most of these issues will appear to be the software’s fault. But in fact, it’s the poor connection that is causing them. The Wi-Fi network also needs to be private and separate from your guest Wi-Fi network if you offer that. If not, an unscrupulous customer may hack into your network and steal data.

Between a tablet and a traditional POS, which system is right for you? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Ultimately, it comes down to the specific needs of your business. Total Merchant Supply offers an array of both traditional and tablet POS options to cater to all kinds of businesses. Contact us today to learn how we can best help yours succeed.