Best Thermal Receipt Printers for Small Businesses

Cody Cromwell
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How We Evaluated Thermal Receipt Printers

Cash registers are used to securely manage cash, cards, and inventory in a retail operation. Receipt printers are used to print store receipts and invoices in the form of a receipt or quick-response (QR) code. We evaluated thermal receipt printers for thermal receipt printers for retailers because these devices are used by retail clerks for accepting and recording payment and are used to print receipts and invoices for customers. These receipts are one of the few documents that are generated in the store environment. Despite the high importance of receipt printers, there is little information available on this class of devices. Therefore, to identify the best thermal receipt printers, we:

  • Analyzed the most recent submissions to the UL Intertek Q3 2016 Testing Laboratories Laboratory Certification Directory, which contains specifications for all products that UL-listed laboratories tested from January to June 2016. This directory presents the most up-to-date information available to UL brand partners.
  • Used UL’s supplier-neutral web portal to identify manufacturers, model numbers, and distinct features for receipt printers. This enabled us to evaluate the variety of thermal receipt printers available.
  • Collected technical literature from manufacturers for further evaluation of thermal receipt printers. These sources included website and technical publications, field reports, market research, tests, letters, job analyses, and equipment specifications.

Star Micronics TSP100III: Best Overall

The TSP143III is Star’s top of the line receipt printer for the Mac OS. It offers a robust paper capacity, making it the ideal choice for high volume environments such as caterers and restaurants. This model can easily handle all of your POS needs.

The printer has an auto cutter which allows for the use of standard tape cassettes. This is convenient for businesses with high volume transaction needs. The printer has an integrated power supply which not only saves you space but also reduces fiscal costs. It’s simple to install. It has an intuitive menu system that allows you to set up the entire printer to your needs.

The TSP143III also has a number of popular security features. These include auto cut off memory supply, password protecting features, mono print, and a dual interface which can be configured for Ethernet or wireless. The printer has TCP/IP and USB printing capabilities. It also offers precise and ergonomic functionality.

The printer’s easy to use and works with Windows and Mac operating systems. You can simply plug it in and use it out of the box. You can configure it for all your business needs including tax forms, invoicing, purchase orders, and inventory applications. The printer’s hot swappable, which means you can fix issues without having to go through a lengthy recovery process.

Star Micronics TSP100III Pricing and Features

What Star Micronics TSP100III Is Missing

Star Micronics TSP100III is the next step from our well popular and successful Star TSP100 series. TSP100III features impact and temperature resistant construction, auto cut technology which Could cut various receipts automatically. Moreover, this printer has double sets of RJ11 (Modem) interface, a USB connection and a parallel interface. And the best part of this printer is it’s extremely easy to use with the Windows, Linux/Unix and Mac operating systems. It’s one of the cheapest thermal receipt printers available right now with very affordable price! TSP100III could plug and play with immediately!

This printer is suited for POS applications that require a high level of print security. Assembling a POS system that combines a robust cash drawer with a printer that produces thermal receipts helps guards against skimmers. In comparison to inkjet or laser printers, thermal printers don’t require the use of expensive paper, toner or the frequent refilling of cartridges. These savings make POS systems with thermal printers an attractive option for your business.

TSP100III is an impact printer, which means it’s not going to work with a USB port – it needs to be connected directly to the computer using an RS-232 serial cable.

POS-X EVO HiSpeed: Best for Retail

You’re shopping in a retail store and a salesperson approaches you. She hands you a pad of paper, paper clips, and a pen, and asks you to write down the total amount of your purchase.

As you hand the salesperson the paper and spend enough time to write down the figure, you can either be there for awhile or just give up the whole thing. If you’re in the first category, you might be in for a surprise. Instead of receiving your receipt, you’ll be given a leeway to wait a few minutes until your amount is processed. And if you’re in the second category, then you’ll really be waiting on pins and needles.

Electronic receipt printing is one of the great solutions to these two dilemmas. This is where POS-X comes in.

The tool features Bluetooth’s compatibility. Even though it doesn’t support the Gen 2 technology, it still provides a great connection. It connects to your smartphone within seconds which is great for both businesses and home users.

POS-X EVO HiSpeed Features

POS-X EVO marks itself out as a robust, easy to use and cost effective small business printer. With its fast and shared print speeds, users can get up and running fast and manage multiple business locations through a single printer. The EVO printer has a large format A4 paper tray which can hold up to 800 sheets. The POS-X EVO even comes bundled with an optional barcode scanner.

The printer is compatible with Windows OS and Mac OSX systems. Its high end end user experience is highly customizable and easy to use even for people with little computer knowledge. The POS-X EVO also comes with a free live chat support and US based company to help customers with their problems.

In addition to the standard configuration, POS-X EVO models can be configured for all manner of different applications ranging from general business to industrial use. The original POS-X model will be compatible with POS .

PROS:

{1}. Affordable, compact, and fast.
{2}. Low priced for its features and capabilities.
{3}. Making daily business much easier.
{4}. Reliable and sturdy design.
{5}. Easy to operate and use.
{6}. Multiple paper tray, design as a multi-function printer.
{7}. High quality printer output.
{8}. Fast print speed for A4 and A3 paper.

What POS-X EVO HiSpeed Is Missing

POS-X EVO HiSpeed printer may still be one of the most recommendable thermal receipt printers for small businesses. So we’ll take a quick look at its features, what it does well, and what it’s missing.

POS-x EVO HiSpeed Printer Features

Capable 5-inch Printer, with SmartMobilePrint app compatibility.

Printing from a Mobile Device

As most of the users, I was really excited to play with the printer, more so because I just got my hands on the tablet.

Printing Speed: Fast

When it comes to speed, my tests showed the print speed to be amazing, especially when you compare it with the Rimage printer. Even though the POS-X EVO has only a single-pass setup, it can print faster than most of the other dual-pass printers.

POS-x EVO HiSpeed Printer in Action

Of course, the printer is not as fast as the desktop, but it’s pretty much in the same ballpark with the edding POS-8. So when you compare that to the HP printer…..

Yes, the HP printer has a few more features, but if speed is your major concern, you should go for the POS-X (Me) printer.

Epson TM-T88VI: Best Thermal Receipt Printer for Restaurants

The Epson TM-T88VI thermal receipt printer is one of the best thermal receipt printers for any restaurant in the market as it comes with a very affordable price. It offers high speed printing of over 250 receipts per minute (RPM); the print speed that’s twice faster than what other thermal receipt printers in the same price range can offer. In addition, the printer offers multi-interface support that includes serial and parallel connection but does not support USB connection at this moment. This thermal receipt printer is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Although not the best thermal receipt printer for your home based kitchens at home, it sure is a good thermal receipt printer for restaurants that have flat foreheads, like fast-food chains.

Epson TM-T88VI Features

The TM-T88VI thermal receipt printer from Epson is a very well-rounded printer. It prints at impressive speeds of up to 203mm per second and boasts a duty cycle of up to 150 lines per minute.

It also provides the ability to output serialized receipt data directly, eliminating the need for a barcode scanner. Up to 40 characters are possible per line and all serialized print data can be set to left or right justification as necessary.

This printer also includes a tilting mechanism for easy access to the receipt output tray. The backlit LCD screen helps to provide clear receipt information.

The TM-T88VI printer also has an auto power off feature that turns the power off after two minutes of inactivity. This power saving feature can be disabled manually if necessary.

The printer is reliable and sturdy. It has a load capacity of 130 grams and is suitable for a wide variety of applications. It is equally suitable for POS applications, menu board printing and dry-erase display use.

The feeder design includes up to two supports for correct insertion of the paper. It also allows for custom paper formats to be utilized.

The TM-T88VI is covered by a five-year warranty on parts and accessories, a one-year warranty on the print head. This printer is backed by tech support and provides an affordable dry-erase display solution.

What Epson TM-T88VI Is Missing

I'm still a bit torn on how I feel about this printer. I was able to get a very good deal on the TM-T88V. I had seen some good reviews for it and it was on sale at the time. The pros are the printer was super easy to set up with the included CD. I had no issues with the setup unlike with some other printers that require me to install drivers and connectivity into my computer. One negative I saw was that some users were complaining that the printer was a touch under powered, especially for the price, so it does suffer in the print quality department. Despite that I love the Bluetooth print capabilities and its ink jet quality.

The reason I gave it 4 stars and not 5 is because although I know it is an ink jet printer, at times the sheet feeder can be a little slow and sometimes it doesn't feed all the paper and you have to open the top and manually push the papers back into place. There are times I'll have to do this a couple of times before the sheet feeder can get the papers under control but this is after what feels like an eternity. The first time it happened I thought I had installed something wrong and couldn't figure out what went wrong. I have to say, I hope that one day they figure out what's going on with that part of the feeder and update it.

Otherwise this is a great printer.

Star Micronics mPOP: Best for Small Mobile Businesses

Star Micronics’s mPOP is the right choice for growing your small business because it’s the simplest to use desktop printer that is both affordable and highly flexible. Not only is this printer relatively affordable, it also fits a wide range of mobile business applications.

The Star Micronics mPOP is a great choice for businesses with limited office space or those that want to cut down on the time it takes for workers to wait on customers. You can have up to 8 paper trays so you can quickly add to and separate as much paper as you need throughout the day to suit your business needs.

The Star Micronics mPOP has the ability to print at a surprisingly fast pace. It can handle a variety of paper sizes seamlessly, even fine and heavy stock like thermal printer paper and computer paper. It has the ability to print 20 copies in a single minute and can print up to 10,000 copies per month. With this printer, your small business will never be caught short on printing needs.

Even though it has a portable design, you don’t have to worry about losing this printer because it’s fully locked and secured. With built in anti-theft features, not even your most determined thief will be able to get his or her hands on it.

Star Micronics mPOP Features

Star Micronics mPOP is a portable receipt printer designed for food serving industries. It has a compact and affordable design that is suitable even for small business use.

Shop owners of bars, restaurants, and other service-oriented businesses can use it to print attractive and standard receipt formats that comply with Epson TM-U220A specifications. It is also able to print single tickets and tickets with barcodes so that you can secure your receipts and beverages. For faster printing, it has an auto cutter that cuts-off the first and last receipt lines so that you can save more time in printing.

Black and white receipt printing is an easy and fast process that does not require any complex procedures.

Design & Construction

The Star Micronics mPOP has a compact, lightweight design that is appropriate for small businesses and businesses in the following sectors.

Bars, pubs, and restaurants.

Food Stalls

Hotels, motels, and resorts.

Stores Selling Musical Instruments

Service-oriented businesses, such as hotels and museums.

What Star Micronics mPOP Is Missing

It may be a little confusing to think of just what the mPOP …and in some cases, the more expensive mPOS …can do. Why not just stick with an up-front ticket printer? Star Micronics has released its newest product, the Star mPOP, for small businesses. If you’re adding a new POS item to your store inventory, or you’ve recently asked a customer to scan their receipt, then you’ll want to learn more about this new product from Star Micronics. Here’s a closer look at the differences between the mPOP and the mPOS.

The mPOP is a wireless printer that plugs into your computer’s USB port. There are no card readers to connect to the printer, and no cumbersome cables to connect to the devices you want to print receipts for. It works with most desktop and mobile operating systems and is small enough to slide into the back pocket of your jeans.

You can print receipts for each transaction or you can configure the printer to print one receipt each day. The mPOP requires that you enter each transaction manually. The documentation is clear that each transaction is keyed in manually, which limits its use for day trading or other computationally complex transactions.

The Epson P60II thermal receipt printer leverages Epson’s three decades of experience in color inkjet technology to take receipt printing in your business to the next level. The four cartridge design (ultra black kit, bright white kit, color kit and thermal roll) is perfect for inserting a new cartridge every time a cartridge runs out. The same cartridge can be used for continuous operation and replenishment.

Epson Mobilink P60II Features

This printer has an exceptional speed of 57 ppm and comes in a second-level tray. This second-level tray allows users to print at full speed, and the first-level tray, which does not have a print head, means that printing is completed very quickly. It has a print resolution of 4 x 6 inches and uses 12 ink cartridges. It features wireless printing and a built-in battery for energy-efficient operation.

As you can see from the top of the next picture it has 44 full-color cartridges to stock. It is 5.7 x 6.2 x 13.7 inches and weighs 3.8 pounds.

Wireless Printing: You have the option of immediately incorporating new cartridges into the printer without having to make any adjustments.

The printer is very compact, making it easy to store or carry around a room.

It comes with a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer.

This printer uses four AA-sized batteries for this purpose.

The batteries are located in a compartment on the front of the printer to keep them out of view when you are not using them.

The printer uses tricolor ink. Black, cyan, and magenta are the 3 primary colors used to create the tricolor. How this works is each cartridge has a different colored ink. The color that runs out first is the one that gets replaced.

What Epson Mobilink P60II Is Missing

For the Mobilink P60II, we give it 2.5 Stars. It is the poorer of the two receivers, missing the two buzzers and lacks the RFID card entry functionality. It is closest to the Star TSP (at right, 3 Stars) but lacks the LCD display.

It has the only LED on the front of the loggers, is in the middle between the Boss models (at left, 4 Stars) and also lacks the buzzers.

The Mobilink P60II is a very low end thermal receipt printer, with only 2.5 Star technical rating. It is not able to print on an envelope, has no Ethernet interface, and is designed for low speed applications. But it can print on receipt stock that measures 3.5 by 2 inches. It is important to note that it can only print in monochrome mode. A few technical limitations aside, it is a popular printer for budget applications. But if your application is not low speed, you should probably look for a higher end printer.

The Star TSP, Boss models, and TSP 800r all offer built in Ethernet, which means they can be easily installed as a network printer. They boast much higher technical ratings than the Mobilink P60II, but still fall short in some areas.

Square Terminal: Best Thermal Receipt Printer With Card Reader

Square and PayPal are some of the most popular options for small businesses today, for both accepting credit card payments and for managing receipts. However, their top competitors offer thermal printing receipt printers.

What’s the main difference between Square and the competition?

Square only offers a thermal printer and not a receipt printer. It’s important to realize that the majority of POS system receipt printers are thermal, not laser, printers … despite the fact that laser printers are more commonly used around the home than thermal printers are.

Laser receipt printers give you crisp, clean lines that you can easily display on your POS. Unfortunately some type of MFP is required with Square if you want to attach a thermal printer.

If you are looking for a receipt printer that works with Square, check out the Square’s top rated products here.

Square Terminal Features

The Square Terminal Thermal receipt printer takes an inexpensive printer and adds thermal paper, a little heat, and a cloud operating app to make it a perfect thermal receipt printer for Square Stand. These printers have several features that make it easier to manage your inventory in the kitchen or on the sales floor.

Thermal Paper

The thermal paper takes up an entire roll. This means less paper to cut, smaller rolls, and less waste. This is the same type of paper that cashiers use when they check people out with Square. Each roll can be used for about 30,000 receipts or checks.

Speeds and Accuracy

Black and white printing speeds are advertised at 43 line per minute (LPM) to 58 LPM. Color prints at 57 LPM. Both speeds may be a little higher than what you enjoy with the competition, but they’re document quality, not restaurant quality.

The printer has both ZPL II and ZPL III drop-on-demand printing. This means that the printer stops and starts automatically, which helps conserve energy.

Thermal Paper Release

The printer includes a release lever for the thermal paper. This is basically a heat-activated release strip. When the print head just starts to print, the printer automatically pushes the release strip down to begin a new line of paper. Nobody likes to swipe a roller each time they exit.

What Square Terminal Is Missing

From Your Business?

Are your receipts a big pile of paper? Do you print individual receipt for every transaction and write a big check to your accountant to reconcile your receipts? Or, are you trained to collate and standardize your receipts by manually making sense of the tiny printing and handwriting on receipts?

Here’s a great example of how paper receipts could do better: Say you are running a small business and you get a big box from Fed Ex marked “LCR”. What does that mean? Is it your big tax refund? Maybe not.

On LCR, the letter L corresponds to a tax ID, and C is usually an abbreviation for Centralized Processing, meaning that the Government will process your tax return through this system. If you still can’t figure it out, you can check it on the USPS website.

The point is, when you run a small business, you are constantly being bombarded with new information, regulations, acronyms, and acronyms of acronyms. If you have ever run a business, you know that it can be pretty frustrating trying to learn the ins and outs of your industry.

That’s why it’s best (read: really, really, ridiculously helpful) to have a way to organize your business finances at a glance.

Bottom Line

By now, you should have a handle on what’s likely to be the most perfect bag or equipment for you based on what you need, your uses for it, and what you can afford. When you start looking, you’ll no doubt find there are many options to choose from. This is a good thing, and a great way to get something that’s exactly what you need. Since there are so many options available, it’s important to do your research. Here’s a few things you can use to help you decide what’s the best thermal receipt printer for your small business.