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I am looking for a cheap solution to my problem:

I need to find either an already existing common device (that is used in restaurants, bars clubs) or a cheap new device that I will distribute to those places, which can connect to internet (via the already existing ethernet or wireless based internet) and do HTTP request/receive response and retrieve information ? (For instance can a POS device connect to internet?)

For a project, I need to do identity validation on several restaurants and bars and not all of them have computers. So I will be giving "cheap and easy to use devices" and non-IT personal can use it to do http request to my server and get response.

All I can think of is Cell phones and SMS.

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They don't have computers but they have ethernet or wireless internet access? –  David Gelhar Apr 9 '10 at 11:48
    
Everyone has a mobile phone. Text messages or browser ftw. –  user32771 Apr 9 '10 at 11:50
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5 Answers

I seriously hope they wouldn't let you fiddle and run your own processes on their POS terminals.

You haven't defined what sort of interface you need so this question is hard to answer.

"identity validation" could be a lot of things: Are you collecting data from people? Need a screen? Keyboard? Are you looking to accept a user name and password? Collecting a 6 digit pin from a number pad? Does it just interface with some sensor such as a card reader or fingerprint scanner? etc.

You can build your own POS type terminal that could do anything pretty cheaply with something like this:

http://www.fit-pc.com/web/ and attaching it to the back of a touchscreen.

However, if you more clearly define your requirements there are likely cheaper alternatives.

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Motorola makes handheld computers under the product name Symbol. http://www.motorola.com/Business/US-EN/Product+Lines/Symbol

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I guess the cheapest would be a simple mobile phone with Java ME support. You can install applet there to send HTTP requests.

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An iPod Touch would seem to be a good choice at $199: http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_ipod/family/ipod_touch

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You could try the Zune HD...it has a fairly decent internet browser that works over WIFI...

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