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Gen 2 lilitab adds easy on/off, MagKey to iPad kiosk

lilitab iPad kiosk

When we last checked in on the lilitab tablet kiosk product 18 months ago, the sturdy and economical stand delivered a sleek, minimalist look for retail and exhibit environments. Rolling forward to new tablet models, however, required replacing the entire head unit, and the fixed viewing angle wasn't ideal for some environments. It was also not particularly easy to turn off a tablet at night when it was encased with the high-security faceplate on the original lilitab.

Now creator Adam Aaronson and the lilitab team have rethought the entire product for the lilitab Gen 2 kiosk, which began shipping late in Q3 of this year. The lilitab Gen 2 works perfectly with the iPad 2, which many kiosk implementations choose for its lower price; it also works great with the 3rd and 4th gen units, and iPad Air support is on the way soon. The lilitab kiosks are assembled in California under Apple's "Made for iPad" certification program; the company claims to be the only tablet kiosk manufacturer that has achieved Level 6 MFi certification in the program, allowing it to put together final products featuring the Lightning device connector.

(Of note, as the lilitabers have been working on supporting the iPad Air, they discovered that the new Smart Cover for the Air follows the example of the iPad mini model and uses two reverse-polarity magnets to trigger device sleep, versus the single magnet sensor on the older iPads. That config, says Aaronson, means that almost all pre-release "works with iPad Air" third-party cases will actually not sleep the device properly -- if you bought one, be sure to test it out.)

In rethinking the lilitab kiosk, one of the first things that got improved was the setup process. Gone is the complex threading/wedging of the power adapter into the support base; now the stand includes a straightforward USB pigtail cable, which can be attached directly to power or to an extension cable. The overall assembly process is quite a bit faster, as the baseplate attaches much more easily than before. In addition to the self-standing floor models, there are countertop, surface and wall-mount options.

It's on the business end of the kiosk where you'll find the most noticeable improvements in the Gen 2. Rather than a cable passthru from the stalk to the iPad head unit, the Pro version of the head unit sports a custom, lockable magnetic connector. Need to pack up your kiosks for the night? Simply unlock them and pull them easily off the stalk in seconds. Another advantage of the custom connector: you can quickly spin your tablet from landscape to portrait mode. The head unit and connector also now sit on an articulated joint, so it's much easier to adjust display angle when needed. The company also offers a basic, no-tilt version of the head unit.

Inside the cradle, adjustable brackets, silicon bumpers and a swappable power module support the use of most full-size tablets with minimal adjustment (with the exception of the iPad 1, which is too thick to fit properly under the top cover). The really magical gadget, though, is the MagKey; this slender magnetic strip can slide into a slot on the back of the lilitab cradle, where it triggers the iPad 2/3/4 Smart Cover sleep sensor. In a snap, the iPad is asleep for the night, and can be awoken for business the next day just by pulling out the MagKey again.

For point-of-sale or commerce applications, the lilitab head unit can be expanded with either a Square reader mount point or the liliswipe secure card reader. In fact, lilitab is teaming up with credit card processing giant VeriFone to deliver the Pro-V kiosk with an integrated VeriFone card reading solution. The big advantage there is the ability to leverage VeriFone's end-to-end security model, which reduces the effort involved in certifying the retail environment for PCI-DSS compliance (the industry standard governing the handling of payment card data).

The lilitab Floor Basic model starts at $245, while the Pro comes in at $395. Beyond the standard black or white, the company offers a full line of custom skinning and branding options to help your kiosk match your business look.