Bluebird Pidion BIP-5000|
Marvell PXA320-based enterprise handheld computer/scanner
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
The Pidion line of rugged and industrial handhelds is made by Bluebird, a Korean company that has been in the mobile computer hardware business since 1998. Specializing in products serving enterprise mobility (AIDC) and payment industries, Bluebird's offerings also include bardcode scanners, RFID readers, and printer-integrated handhelds. The BIP-5000 is the company's standard Windows Mobile-based enterprise handheld computer with scanner for field operations such as post and parcel delivery, route accounting, and meter reading.
The Pidion BIP-5000, which has been around since 2007, is a conventional ruggedized handheld computer designed for AutoID applications that require 1D/2D barcode scanning, A-GPS and voice/data communication plus the ability to rapidly enter data via phone-style keypad. The BIP-5000 is significantly larger than a current smartphone, but it's still compact enough to stick into most pockets, and it weighs just 11 ounces. Its resistive touch screen measures 3.5 inches diagonally (same as an iPhone), but offers only 240 x 320 pixel QVGA resolution. The sole keyboard option is the 19-key numeric keypad.
When it was first intrdouced, the Pidion BIP-5000 was one of the first handhelds offering the advanced 806MHz Marvel PXA320 processor that had replaced the ubiquitous PXA270 as the high-end processor of choice for Pocket PC devices. As a result, the BIP-5000 remains up-to-date in terms of speed and performance. On the software side, the 5000 Series comes standard with Windows Mobile 6.1, which many still consider the best version of Microsoft's mobile operating platform.
In other areas, the BIP-5000 is technologically lagging behind the newer Pidion lines. Customers can specify either a 1D/PDF417 Class II laser scanner or a 1D/2D CMOS imager, but not the optional high density imager. The device also comes with an integrated auto-focus camera with an illuminator light, but it's an older 2-megapixel design. There is also no pistol grip option and RFID isn't available for the BIP-5000. As for the 3.5-inch QVGA display, it's good enough for standard WIndows Mobile operations (Windows Mobile was designed for QVGA), but less so for more complex GPS/GIS apps.
For wireless connectivity, the BIP-5000 comes with Bluetooth and WiFi, but Bluetooth is the older 2.0 + EDR version and dual band WiFi is not available. Wireless broadband and integrated GPS are available, enabling real-time voice and data communication, but WWAN does not support the latest 3.5G standards.
The BIP-5000 is a fairly rugged device that can handle multiple five-foot drops onto steel, has a wide operating temperature range from minus 4 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit (both somewhat less than newer rugged Pidions), and carries IP65 sealing, which means it is totally sealed against dust an can also handle low-pressure water jets from all directions. The unit's Li-Ion battery packs a modest 8.5 watt-hours, with an optional extended 13.4 watt-hour extended battery also available (and recommended).
Bluebird initially designed the BIP-5000 as an all-purpose ruggedized Pocket PC/communicator that could also handle scanning and data capture. It continues to do those jobs economically, albeit with somewhat dated technology. On the other hand, there hasn't been anywhere near the progress in industrial handhelds as there has been in commercial smartphones, and so the BIP-5000 remains a useful, reliable candidate for many field operations.