The Antique Mall Accounting System - by Programs Plus - Requirements

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Recommended Minimum System Requirements

Processor (CPU) - pretty much anything Windows (Intel or AMD) sold since early 2000's
1 GB or more
Hard disk can be minimal, but should not consider anything less than 40 GB
Flat Panel Monitor 17" or larger
DVD/CD Writer
Printer(s) to handle invoices, reports and checks. A Laser printer is highly recommended for printing reports and fast thermal receipt printer is recommended for printing invoices.
Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows 8 and Vista (Latest Service Packs).
Windows Vista should not be used if you are planning to network 2 or more computers together. 
We also recommend that you install Windows Professional (or ultimate) if you plan on networking 2+ computers with AMAS.
32 or 64 bit versions of Windows 7 are compatible.
64 bit Windows may require new drivers or new hardware for some components such as printers, etc.

We have been installing and networking AMAS on Windows 7 computers for over three years with great success.
We have been installing and networking AMAS on Windows 8 computers for about one years with success, however
Windows 8 is only recommended if your staff has sufficient experience with Windows 8.
Our software will most likely work on most any Windows based computer manufactures on the last 10 -12 years. If you plan on networking 2+ computers, please consider Windows Professional - highly recommended. 

Parallel Port?
If you have existing receipt printers (3" paper tape type) that connect by parallel printer port you need to have a parallel port. It almost impossible to find a New computer with parallel or serial ports these days, so you may need to one installed or install a USB/Parallel converter.  Please determine if you will need a parallel port BEFORE you order or purchase new computers. We would recommend replacing Parallel or Serial Receipt printers with the newer Star thermal printers. Please call for help. 

Serial Port?
Serial ports also very hard to find on new computers today, but you will only need one if you have a serial barcode scanner. Our software can support some serial, keyboard wedge and USB scanners. We cannot guarantee or support scanners acquired from other sources.

Network Requirements
You may operate AMAS on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista (single systems only), Windows 7, or Windows 8 Operating Systems.  Windows Professional or Ultimate (NOT Home) are recommended for workstations in a multi-computer environment. 
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU RUN AMAS OVER A WIRELESS NETWORK. Wireless networks are more susceptible to interruption due to interference from wireless phones and other devices.

If you plan to have 2 or more computers access the Antique Mall Accounting System, you MUST purchase a multi-user license from Programs Plus+.

Printers
There are basically four printer types to consider: Laser (or LED), Ink Jet, Dot matrix, Receipt Printers (Both Dot Matrix and Thermal).

Printer Comparison Chart

Printer Type/ Technology

Advantages

Disadvantages

Laser or Okidata LED

Great Looks, Faster reports, Less paper jams, more versatile Print Options

More Expensive Cost per page than Dot Matrix but less than Ink Jet.

Ink Jets

Near Laser Quality, Inexpensive Purchase

Ink smears very easily – Ink more expensive than Laser and must change frequently. Not designed for high volumes.

Dot Matrix Receipt Printers

Good looks, faster than most other receipts, very Inexpensive receipts – Pays for itself quickly. Opens Cash Drawers.

Must use another printer for reports/checks. Only average speed. Can pay more for more speed.

Thermal Receipt Printers

Very, Very Fast Receipts, Great Looks, Very Quite, Inexpensive receipts – Pays for itself quickly. Opens Cash drawers.

Must use another printer for reports/checks. Paper more expensive than Dot matrix receipt paper.,

Dot matrix

Economical Reports, inexpensive Purchase, Cheap ribbons, 2 copies quicker with NCR paper

Very Loud, NCR Paper Expensive, Quality poorer than other options. Hard to find – Becoming obsolete.

Printer Tips
Ink Jets - If you really need some occasional color, ink-jet is your answer. I find that Ink-Jets are more costly (Ink & special paper), smear way too easily, and don’t print as nicely as lasers. Just like laser, you my print invoices, checks and reports all from the same printer.

Laser – Unless you need color, it is hard to beat the quality of a decent laser printer. While color laser printers are available, most of our customers consider $1000.00 & up out of budget for occasional color printing. You can find laser printers as low as $250 & up. When shopping for laser printers you should compare the following features:

Prices, DPI resolution (600-2400), pages-per-minute, paper sizes, number of paper trays, paper capacity, memory for speed & graphics, quality of output, and consumable cost (toner cartridges).

I would recommend 16 PPM+ with 600-1200DPI with two paper trays. If you plan to share a laser printer, spend at least $600 - $1000. By having two paper trays, you can load our pre-printed invoices in one tray and load plain paper in another tray. Even though laser printers have a page-per-minute rating, you cannot expect 1 page to arrive in x seconds. For example, 16 PPM does not deliver the first page in 4 seconds. Okidata’s LED printers publish a "time to first page" rating, and their printers are much faster than other brands with similar PPM ratings. HP and Lexmark both offer good higher-end lasers for $400 & Up.  I would be cautious of some of the lower-end laser printers (less than $250).  We have several customers that have had problems with 2 of the lower-end lasers: the HP 1000 and the Samsung 1710.

Please make sure you purchase your printer from a store that will allow refunds or exchanges in case you have problems with the printer.  Return policies on printers can vary, but I have found the policies at Office Depot, Best Buy, Circuit City and Micro Center to have the best return policy.  For the last several years, Comp-USA has charged a 15% restocking fee on all open hardware returns.

Receipt Printers - Receipt printers easily pay for themselves in short time frame. You must have another printer to handle checks and reports. Programs Plus sells Star Receipt printers. Dot Matrix Receipt printers have speeds from 2.5 Lines/Second to 5.5 lines/second. Some thermal receipt printers can crank out 30-60 lines/second (1-2 seconds/receipt). Many people do not like thermal paper, but you get a much better look plus custom logo capability. Thermal receipt printers should have an automatic paper cutter.

Dot matrix – These printers are getting harder to find everyday. Dot Matrix printers are very noisy, produce less attractive output, a hassle to change forms, and considered much slower than most alternatives. Despite many dot matrix disadvantages, they still provide an economical solution. Okidata. Panasonic and Epson are the three most likely brands to consider today. I would recommend the Okidata 320 or 520. Using 2 Part tractor fed pre-printed forms, you can print invoices in 5 – 6 seconds. Settlement reports will print much slower than the laser solution. Expect to spend $325 & Up for a decent Dot Matrix printer.  Please note that we DO NOT recommend using Dot Matrix report printers (dot matrix receipt printers are OK).

Note about Older Printers
Most Windows software has become more graphical, and will present problems for dot matrix printers. You do not want dot matrix printers for most Windows applications. Ink jet printers can produce good graphics, but in most cases will take much longer than laser printers. You should take this into consideration for your next printer purchase.

Electronic Cash Drawers
The Antique Mall Accounting system can be interfaced with electronic cash drawers so that when an invoice is completed, the cash drawer will be automatically opened. Cash drawers tend to be more expensive than the cheap cash registers that you see at discount office suppliers. Most often quality drawers from MS and Indiana retail for $325.00 and up. There are four basic cash drawer interfaces that you must carefully choose from:

Interface

Description

1) Serial

Simple. Easy to Setup. Serial and Parallel drawers also tend to open automatically when the electricity goes out.
Many newer computers may be configured without Serial Ports, so please make sure your computer has one if you plan to order a serial cash drawer. Please note that most cash drawers that we sell connect to the Receipt printer, not the Serial Port.

2) Parallel

Simple. Easy to Setup. Most computers DO NOT Come with a Parallel Port so you may need to add a Parallel Port if possible/practical. Please note that most cash drawers that we sell connect to the Receipt printer, not the Parallel Port.

3) Solenoid Only

This is only an option if you will be using a P.O.S. style receipt printer (the typical 3.25 inch wide register tapes). If you will be using a Receipt Printer, this is the absolute best interface choice. The cash drawer connects to the printer via a small cable that resembles a phone cord. We only recommend using PARALLEL receipt printers.  USB receipt printers can be considered if you have a network or high-speed internet modem.

4) Intelligent

Offers the most flexible interface, allowing serial, parallel and Direct connection to Receipt Printers. Generally costs $150 MORE than Serial or Parallel drawers. This drawer does not open automatically when electricity does out. We have had some reports of this drawer interface opening sluggishly.

Programs Plus only sells MS brand Cash drawers and Star Receipt Printers. If you purchase cash drawers or receipt printers from a source other than Programs Plus, we may charge additional support fees to assist in the installation of these devices.

Networks
AMAS is available as a single-user stand-alone program or a network multi-user version. About 35% of our customers use our network version with anywhere from 2 – 9 computers in one store. Most users will not notice any difference between multi-user and single-user versions. The multi-user version has coding that allows 2 or more computers to share the same data files.

AMAS is actually installed on each workstation and the data only resides on one computer (the server). Each user/workstation must have access (Read, Write and Create rights) to the directory on the server where AMAS is installed. For example, you might create a directory/folder named AMAS2000 on the C drive of the server. Today, most computers have hard drives and CD-ROMs , each workstation might connect to server’s C Drive using the E or F Drive letters. Choose a drive letter high enough so that each workstation may be use the same drive letter.

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