Fellowship One Check-In is currently an Internet-connected Windows application which operates at 800x600 resolution and works well with a touchscreen display. It can operate in both assisted and self check-in modes. Optionally, rapid identification can be obtained through assignment of a barcode or using biometrics.
While a traditional kiosk or wall-mounted PC works well in many cases, we've considered a mobile check-in solution which could help in some of the following scenarios:
- Check-in at temporary or remote locations where a fixed solution would be difficult to transport, or where power or network jacks are not present.
- Outdoor check-in, such as for people going to portable buildings or perhaps during golf cart rides in a large parking lot.
- Augmenting self check-in kiosks for those requiring assistance without having to send people to a fixed location.
- Enabling a check-in volunteer to seek out attendees, such as to find people who did not register for an event or do not have a name tag.
With the advent of the HP Slate 500 Tablet PC, we finally have a very mobile Windows tablet PC that works well within the software's constraints. Combined with a wireless Internet connection, a mobile Zebra printer, and optionally with a Bluetooth barcode scanner, we can now provide a relatively lightweight solution with no wires and full mobility. But be warned—you may win a geek award walking around with a printer strapped to your waist.
Solution as Tested
- HP Slate 500 Tablet PC - $799.00
- Zebra QL 320 Plus WiFi mobile printer (P/N Q3D-LUGA0000-00) - $922.30, Li-Ion running charger - $186.70, 3"x2" labels - $3.38, and optional desktop stand - $34.00
- Koamtac KDC200i Bluetooth barcode scanner - $399.00
|Zebra QL 320 Plus, HP Slate 500 Tablet PC, KDC200i barcode reader|
- You'll need to download Zebra's Label Vista software to configure the QL 320 Plus for wireless operation and then the Zebra Designer driver to print. If you don't already have access to a USB Mini-B (5-pin) to USB Type A Male cable, you'll need to buy one for this initial configuration. I also had to call Zebra support to obtain instructions to configure the printer for Gap Print and ZPL mode.
- The QL 320 Plus printer is offered with no wireless (USB/serial only), 802.11b/g WiFi, and Bluetooth versions. I chose the 802.11b/g model of the QL 320 Plus printer and can also confirm that it works fine connected by USB. Theoretically, I would expect the Bluetooth version to also work but have not tested it.
- You can use a USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse with the HP Slate if that makes it easier to perform the initial configuration.
- Since the HP Slate's screen resolution is 1024x600 and the check-in application's resolution is 800x600, the combination works best if you move the Windows 7 taskbar to the right side of the screen, as shown above. You can also use the extra screen real estate on the right for frequently accessed icons if necessary.
- The HP Slate has auto screen rotation that switches from landscape to portrait mode as necessary. However, the check-in application needs landscape mode. Fortunately, the HP Slate's sliding power button also provides a rotation lock position, so you will want to lock the rotation after turning it on.
- At first, the printer would print one label with several blank labels between. Zebra Support helped reconfigure the printer correctly; see my blog post to save yourself the phone call and trouble.
- The QL 320 Plus has a printable width of 2.9 inches, which is wide enough to print the entire label. However, the Fellowship One Check-in application indents the left margin slightly, which causes the right margin to get cut off slightly, affecting the far right portion of the church logo. This issue is not severe for adult check-in, but it cuts off about 2/3 of the third digit on the security code, so we do need the Fellowship Tech team's help to eliminate the extra margin when printing to these printers.
- See Matt's Sea of Geek blog post on a Check-in a Box for a solution using Dell Inspiron Duos and desktop Zebra label printers.
- Other Windows tablet computers are starting to become available.
- There are also less expensive Bluetooth barcode scanners if small size is not as important.