Written By Kaisar Woll on 2008/04/30 | Wednesday, April 30, 2008
No question about it, Bluetooth is very handy thanks to its improved integration with computers, cell phones and automobiles.
When Bluetooth first appeared about five years ago, the hype far outstripped its usefulness. The ability to eliminate the tangles of cords and cables was very alluring. Unfortunately, cost and complexity almost brought the technology to its knees.
Now its back, alive and well, fulfilling its promise as a useful tool in a variety of settings.
Europe was its early adopter and it is standard on nearly all European cell phones. They have adopted Bluetooth enabled phones, laptops, wireless keyboards, mice and more.
Cingular and T-Mobile wireless carriers use the same technology as their European counterparts and thus offer Bluetooth enabled devices for their customers. Bluetooth is rarer from Sprint and Verizon Communications which are based on North American technologies.
One major boost for adoption of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones will come from State and local governments. Many new laws and ordinances have been adopted or are in various stages of implementation that will levy fines for driving and using a hand held cell phone. The push for hands-free calling will move Bluetooth forward in the marketplace.
Acura TL now offers Bluetooth integrated into the automobile allowing the driver to use the cars stereo system as a speakerphone and displays information on the dashboard. Bluetooth car kits are now available from Motorola, Nokia, Parrot and others for about $100.
Early teething problems included high cost and poor battery life and made it unattractive for handsets. But now Logitech’s Mobile Bluetooth handset can be had for about $50. The $140 Jabra BT800, which lets you control many cell-phone functions on the headset, offers six hours of talk time and five days of standby. After that, you can recharge by running a USB cable from the headset into a laptop so you don't need to take a charger with you. A headset on the way from Plantronics will come with adapters that allow charging from most phone adapters or from an AA battery.
Beyond mobile phones, Bluetooth is beginning to make inroads into other aspects of wireless communication. Although Windows support is somewhat primitive by current standards, the technology is standard on Apple Macintoshes and optional on other products. Apple uses the latest, faster version of Bluetooth. If Mac detects a Bluetooth enabled keyboard and mouse during startup, it will link to them automatically.
PalmOne is also a big supporter of Bluetooth. PalmOne's software overcomes most of the Windows difficulties and allows their handheld devices to sync and swap files with a Windows laptop over Bluetooth. Making sync work with a new Mac PowerBook is even easier. As for Microsoft's primitive Bluetooth world, it is possible to get a Pocket PC to sync with Windows over Bluetooth, but is only for the technically savvy.
Bluetooth Worth Waiting For:
Bluetooth still falls short. Early promoters envisioned that you would be able to walk up to a printer with your laptop of PDA, click a button, and print. We’re still waiting for that one. Bluetooth printers are rare but we can assume that the advent of Bluetooth enabled digital camera phones will spur this technology further and make for easy printing of those treasured moments.
The technology savvy users are an impatient lot. If it doesn’t catch on right away they move on to something newer and different. If anything, Bluetooth has proven that acceptance can take a while. But isn’t it worth the wait?
We technology watchers are an impatient lot who tend to give up on anything that doesn't catch on right away. Bluetooth has proved once again that acceptance can take a long time -- and that sometimes it's worth the wait.
By Raymond Klesc