This week I had the pleasure to meet the guys from Bluebird, one of the main OEMs that are building rugged devices using Microsoft technology, and I have to say that I have been kindly surprised about the high quality devices that they are bringing to the our market.

In particular I have been playing with the Pidion BM180 (Bluebird is the formal name of Pidion), that has the fresh new Windows Embedded Handeld 8.1. Lets review some specs first:

 

HARDWARE


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  • - 5 Inches EyeIluminate Display 1280 x 720
  • - IP67 Sealing 4ft/1.2m Drop
  • - 3G, 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • - 2D Scanner Datacapture (QR Code, Barcode, all the standards)
  • - Magnetic Stripe Reader and Contacless MiFare, Felica, Calypso
  • - RFID ISO14443A&B, ISO 15693, NCF
  • - Card Payment
  • - SIM/SAM Slot
  • - Ruggedness
    - 1GB Ram/8GB Rom
    - Micro USB, Docking connector
  • - Battery 3000 mAh Li-ion. Internal battery for Hot-Swap 60 mAh
    - MicroSD slot (up to 32GB)
    - AGPS

 

And of course this device operates from -20℃ to 60℃ :)

Having in in my hands, the weight was quite similar than the Nokia Lumia 920, and as you can appreciate on the pictures you have the barcode scanner integrated on the top and the credit card reader on the bottom. On the back the battery enclosure can be opened giving you access to the expansion slots as SIM/SAM and SD card and allows you to remove the battery don’t losing your session as has an internal battery that lasts 3-5 minutes allowing you to perform the hot swap.

 

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Regarding to the performance, fast and fluid as a normal device Windows Phone 8.1, quite similar than the performance on the Nokia Lumia 925 or 1020, and yes, as it comes with Windows Embedded Handheld 8.1, comes with the notification center, Cortana and all these cool features that comes with Windows Phone 8.1 as well.

SOFTWARE

Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld is the next generation of Microsoft’s leading platform for line-of-business handheld devices, built on Windows Phone 8.1.

It has full compatibility with Windows Phone 8.1 applications providing employees with the ability to access custom and off-the-shelf applications. such as Office Mobile, Lync, Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Retail and Office 365 from Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld devices. Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld simplifies integration with existing IT systems and line of business application, including Office 365, Exchange Server, SharePoint, VPN gateways and Direct Access Servers (RAS), Microsoft Azure and .NET business applications.

What can we highlight in WEH8.1?

  • Management. Bulk provisioning of devices allowing enterprises to quickly deploy devices across their enterprise
  • Assigned access. Extending device lockdown experience for multiple users that share the same device as well as button remapping, settings provisioning and an out-of-box experience to enable quick provisioning of industry handheld devices
  • API support for integrated peripherals such as barcode scanner and magnetic stripe reader
  • Support for USB Host
  • Support for Wi-Fi only devices and hardware keyboard

 

SECURITY

Protect your enterprise information with robust Windows security, and full device encryption via BitLocker, S/MIME for secure email, full Information Rights Management (IRM) support, and VPN support. Secure boot helps protect the platform from malware and assures that Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld devices maintain platform integrity.

Also these devices can be managed from a MDM Solution as Windows Intune, closing the management cycle.

 

APP DEVELOPMENT

Regarding to the app development, I will cover that in another article but just let me say that basically is Windows Phone 8.1 app development, even the project you have to create is a Windows Phone project where you can just import some libraries from the Windows Embedded Handheld 8.1 SDK. This is great even for .NETCF 3.5 developers or WP App developers as they can use all the knowledge they have to create apps for these Handheld devices.

“Common developer platform and application programming interfaces (APIs) across Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 allows you to build one development project that will span all device form factors, from a PC to a phone to a handheld. For industry scenarios, common APIs for integrated magnetic stripe readers and barcode scanners peripherals allow you to utilize line-of-business applications that are supported across all Windows 8.1 and Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld devices.”

 

OEMs

Right now Microsoft is working with 5 OEMs that are bringing awesome devices like the Pidion one, those OEMs right now are:

  • Ingenico
  • Panasonic
  • Motorola
  • Intermec
  • Bluebird

But the first devices available in market running Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld will be from Bluebird and Panasonic:

Bluebird presented the already mentioned BP30 and BM180.

Panasonic announced its Toughpad FZ-E1 handheld at Mobile World Congress in February to complement its lineup of enterprise-grade devices for mobile workers built for mission-critical professionals such as those in the military.

 

On next articles I will cover how to start coding for WEH8.1 using Visual Studio 2013 and the WEH8.1 SDK.

Let’s play with devices!

 

 

References:

Windows Embedded 8 Family http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/windows-embedded-8.aspx

Windows Embedded 8 Handheld http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/windows-embedded-8-handheld.aspx

Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld on MSDN http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn715922.aspx

Administrator Guide for WEH8.1 http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn499757.aspx