Hardware Devices Come Into Laser Focus

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OvationTix partners use a variety of hardware/devices to best fit their specific organizational needs and budgets. What hardware is the right fit for you? Here’s a primer on running OvationTix on computers, tablets, swipers, ticket printers, and the most frequently discussed device: scanners.

First, a philosophical point: OvationTix is committed to providing our partners with an excellent, affordable and industry-leading ticketing, donation and CRM solution. We also are committed to ensuring that this solution runs on a variety of devices that meet the needs of the broad and diverse OvationTix partner community. Differing budgets, accounting practices, modes of entry into venues and events, a variety of customer service practices and much more all factor into how and whether a company purchases computers, scanners and other hardware.

This hardware neutrality ensures that our partners enjoy the flexibility of selecting the devices that work best for them. This means, in turn, that we take special care to design our software solutions to work with widely available and typically more affordable device options. This also means we do not charge up-front costs or levy per-ticket fees for the use of hardware. Lastly, this neutrality lets us focus on what we do best – providing further OvationTix software enhancements – and letting hardware manufacturers excel at what they do best.

So while you will see specific makes/models linked below, this is not a comprehensive list of devices on which OvationTix can run, and there are dozens of other several alternative hardware set-ups used throughout the OvationTix partner community. We recommend contacting your account executive before making any large hardware purchases as they can guide you to options that best fit your budget and needs.

Scanners

This particular type of hardware generates the most questions, as there are a variety of devices and configurations and associated costs. A good first step is to determine the value to your company in scanning tickets. In other words, if you do not regularly see fraudulent tickets, if your attendance reporting needs are already met, and if you have a relatively low number and controlled type of entrances for your events, you may not need to make use of scanners. As an alternative to scanning, you can use “Check In Mode” on a tablet or computer near the entrance as a way to both greet patrons and VIPs in a more friendly face-to-face fashion and report on attendance.

If you determine you do indeed require scanners, there are a variety of devices and configurations from which to choose:

Large-volume, multi-venue facilities, festivals and other large OvationTix houses and producers typically use the Zebra / Symbol TC70. This truly mobile scanner is not only popular in the OvationTix community, but our product development team also uses this hardware to regularly test scanning technology improvements. Like any mobile hardware, it requires a strong internet connection, consistent charging, proper training and storage, as well as regular maintenance per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

In addition to the TC70 there are a variety of other fully mobile scanners that work with OvationTix thanks to our free Android scanning app. This app may be run on many different Android OS 4.0.3 and up devices featuring a rear-facing camera. In general, using a scanner on a mobile smart-phone has the added benefit of providing a connection to OvationTix through a mobile network when Wi-Fi is unavailable or spotty. Of course, ensuring hardware compatibility and the strength of the mobile network in question also are important to consider. Please contact your account executive for a recommendation based on your specific needs and budget.

Those looking for a more affordable – though still relatively mobile – solution might also consider USB scanners. These are scanners such as the Saveo, another recommended device, that has been field (and Client Services) tested. It connects to Android phones using Bluetooth or a USB port on the phone. Alternatively, many OvationTix partners use the Code CR1400 USB device, which is a more stationary version of scanning hardware: it has a cord that plugs into a small laptop or computer near the venue entrance. One OvationTix partner recently shared that they run a USB scanner similar to the Code CR1400 on a relatively inexpensive Chromebook like this one. These are more affordable options and may be less susceptible to wi-fi outages or weak signals. If you believe another scanner may better meet your needs, however, please contact your account executive for further guidance. For example, “scanning” also can be achieved using a camera or a supplementary scanning device. Depending on your anticipated scanning volume and a variety of other factors, your account executive can offer advice more specific to your needs.

OvationTix partners have a variety of scanning options from which to choose. Larger size (and budget) companies may find the TC70 the best fit. Those with smaller budgets or less significant scanning needs may be perfectly happy with the Code CR1400 attached to a Chromebook or other inexpensive laptop. And there are a wide variety of choices in between.

Ticket Printers

Working “backwards” from the possible need for scanners, you may have a need for on-site ticket printing. Similar to the scanner questions above, the first consideration about printers is whether or not your events require a thermal ticket printer. Many larger OvationTix partners already have one of the two recommended thermal ticket printers in house: a Boca Lemur and/or a Practical Automation ITX-200. If the overwhelming majority of your tickets are printed at home by your patrons and you have access to a quick and reliable method to reprint tickets at your venue – or if you don’t use tickets at all – a dedicated thermal ticket printer may not be a prudent purchase.

The majority of OvationTix partners still require a traditional box office space and thermal ticket printers. The two listed above are the recommended hardware for this purpose. Please note that the ITX-200 is compatible with Windows machines only. And while many OvationTix partners are now taking full advantage of increased online ticket purchasing (i.e., the increased use of print-at-home electronic tickets) and our mobile box office features, many patrons, especially long-time subscribers and members, take comfort in picking up a ticket (which can also be used as a kind of souvenir) at will call.

Point of Sale Hardware (Swipers and Dippers)

OvationTix recently published an Electronic Payment Security Guide for all our partners. It provides some guidance as to how to keep associated payment hardware secure both from intentional tampering and also from unintentional damage.

This particular hardware area may be best addressed directly between you and your account executive. Depending on your gateway and the device used to process the sale (mobile phone, tablet, or desktop), there are different types of supported credit card swipers/dippers.

Account executives typically recommend purchasing one swiper (approximately $100 each) per box office window or device. If you would like to use an EMV “chipped” card reader or “dipper” these cost approximately $250 each, and all swipes/dips must be processed using a reader attached to each device. Your account executive or client services will also need to make a small adjustment to your account configuration, so please contact us if you’re interested in this new feature.

Yeah, but what about my plain old computer?

Yes, while OvationTix partners are rapidly adopting more mobile hardware, millions of tickets are still distributed “the old fashioned way” through a more traditional box office interaction. OvationTix is fully browser based an runs on either a Mac or PC with the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Internet Explorer. Please be sure all security updates have been made for the web browser of your choice.

If using a Mac, the operating system should be OSX 10.5 or higher, and if using a PC it should be Windows 7 or newer. Both require a 1.5 GHz processor and at least 4GB of RAM. New or refurbished models meeting these specifications are widely available at a variety of price points. If you have a thermal or traditional ticket printer, you may want to check what printer connections are available to avoid having to purchase any additional adapters.

While it is important that all your equipment conform to PCI requirements, this is a good opportunity to mention that your “old” computers should be running updated security software like anti-virus and anti-malware solutions. More on electronic security can be found here.

And my plain new tablet?

OvationTix runs on most major tablets and is specifically verified to work on every operating system and model of iPad–going back to the original. The variety and diversity of available tablet options (Mac, Android and others) means very competitive pricing, but please test your hardware (and internet connection) to ensure that the software and associated hardware work properly and quickly. Usually the tablet has a web browser that can run OvationTix, the OvationTix mobile box office app and if you want to swipe credit/debit cards, it must use the MagTek uDynamo. More on this set-up can be found in this support article.

An informal OvationTix partner survey suggests that OvationTix partners are mainly using tablets for checking patrons into their seats and for walk-up sales not requiring printed tickets. Compared with tablets, a traditional desktop or laptop maintains printer and thermal ticket printer capabilities, and transactions using a mouse and keyboard allow you to more quickly gather information on your patrons. In addition, please note that ticket printing from a tablet is not available using the mobile box office app.

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