today (with a wire) but weâ€™ve heard around the grapevine that portable key-
boards, which use Bluetooth and are compatible with any Bluetooth PDA, will
be released in 2003. A dream come true for us â€” we canâ€™t wait.
If you already own a PDA and it doesnâ€™t have Bluetooth built in, what to do?
Do you really have to go and replace that six-month-old PDA with a new
model? Maybe not. Several manufacturers have begun selling add-on cards
for existing PDAs that enable Bluetooth communications. For example, Palm
sells the Palm Bluetooth Card ($129), which goes into the standard Secure
Digital (SD) card slot found on many Palm OS PDAs. Speaking more generally,
most PDAs have a slot like this â€” SD, Compact Flash, or Memory Stick â€” that
is most often used to expand the amount of memory in the PDA but which
can be used for other purposes. Just like the 802.11 cards in these formats
that we discuss in Chapter 5, you can now (or will soon be able to) find
Bluetooth cards in these formats.
Getting a Bluetooth card installed and set up on your PDA is really super
easy. The first thing that you might (or might not) have to do is to install
some Bluetooth software on your handheld. If this step is required, youâ€™ll
simply put the software CD in your PC and follow the onscreen instructions,
which will guide you through the process of setting up the software. After the
software is on your PC, it should be automatically uploaded to your PDA the
next time that you sync it (using your cable or cradle). After the software is
on your PDA, just slide the Bluetooth card into the PDA. The PDA will recog-
nize it and might (or might not â€” this process is so automated you might not
notice anything happening) guide you through a quick set up wizard-type
program. Thatâ€™s it â€” youâ€™re Bluetooth-ed!
After you get Bluetooth hardware and software on your PDA, youâ€™re ready to
go. By its nature, Bluetooth is constantly on the lookout for other Bluetooth
devices. When it finds something else (like your Bluetooth-equipped PC or a
Chapter 15: Using a Bluetooth Network
Bluetooth printer) that can â€śtalkâ€ť Bluetooth, the two devices communicate
with each other and let each other know what their capabilities are. If thereâ€™s a
match (like youâ€™ve got a document to print, and thereâ€™s a printer nearby with
Bluetooth), a dialog box pops up on your screen through which you can do
your thing. Itâ€™s usually really easy. In some cases (like syncing mobile phone
address books with your PC), youâ€™ll need to finesse some software on one side
or the other. We find that this is a good time to consult the ownerâ€™s manual
and/or the Web sites of the software and hardware companies involved.
Other Bluetooth Devices
Cell phone and PDAs arenâ€™t the only devices that can use Bluetooth, of
course. In fact, the value of Bluetooth would be considerably lessened if they
were. Itâ€™s the network effect â€” the value (to the user) of a networked device
that increases exponentially as the number of networked devices increases.
To use a common analogy, think about fax machines (if you can remember
them . . . we hardly ever use ours any more). The first guy with a fax machine
found it pretty useless, at least until the second person got hers. As more and
more folks got faxes, the fax machine became more useful to each one of
them because they simply had a lot more people to send faxes to (or receive
Bluetooth is the same way. Just connecting your PDA to your cell phone is kind
of cool, in a geek-chic kinda way, but itâ€™s not going to set the world on its ear.
But when you start considering wireless headsets, printers, PCs, keyboards,
and even Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers â€” if youâ€™re a surveyor,
check out Trimbleâ€™s (www.trimble.com) GPS receivers with BlueCap technol-
ogy â€” and the value of Bluetooth becomes much clearer.
In this section of the chapter, we discuss some of these other Bluetooth
We talk about connecting printers to your wireless LAN in Chapter 11, but
what if you want to access your printer from all those portable devices that
donâ€™t have wireless LAN connections built into them? Or, if you havenâ€™t got
your printer connected to the wireless LAN, what do you do when you want
to quickly print a document thatâ€™s on your laptop? Well, why not use
286 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network
You can get Bluetooth onto your printer in two ways:
Buy a printer with built-in Bluetooth. These are relatively rare as we
write but are becoming more widely available. An example of this comes
from HP (www.hp.com), with its DeskJet 995c printer ($399 list price). In
addition to connecting to laptops, PDAs (like the HP iPAQ) and other
mobile devices using Bluetooth, this Mac- and Windows-compatible
printer can connect to your PCs with a standard USB cable or by using
an IR connection (using a standard computer system called IrDA, which
stands for the Infrared Data Association). So youâ€™ll be able to connect
just about any PC or portable device directly to this printer, with wires
Buy a Bluetooth adapter for your existing printer. Many printer manu-
facturers havenâ€™t got around to building printers with built-in Bluetooth
yet, but they do recognize the potential in the market. So theyâ€™ve
launched Bluetooth adapters that can plug into their existing lines of
computers. Epson (www.epson.com), for example, offers a Bluetooth
printer adapter for about $129 that plugs into the parallel port (this is
the other standard connection that youâ€™ll find on printers â€” along with
USB) of most Epson Stylus printers.
What we really expect to see happen in the printer world while the prices for
the chips that allow Bluetooth and 802.11 wireless LAN technologies continue
to plummet â€” you read our minds! â€” is printers that have both 802.11 and
Bluetooth built into them.
If you own a digital camera, youâ€™ve probably spent a fair amount of time
reaching behind your PC to connect the USB cable required to download
the pictures from the camera to your PC. Itâ€™s a real pain. And if you head over
to your parentsâ€™ house and want to download the pictures for them, youâ€™d
better have remembered that cable, or youâ€™ll have to wait until you get home.
And then youâ€™ve got to e-mail all those pictures to them, which can take for-
ever, even on a broadband connection. (And if your parents only have a
dialup modem, itâ€™ll take them even longer to download that huge e-mail.)
A better solution is to zap the pictures to their PC while youâ€™re there (or to
your own computer at home, without any behind-the-desk acrobatics) using
Bluetooth. Sonyâ€™s got a solution for you (at least if you live in Japan â€” Sony
hasnâ€™t released this model outside its home market yet): the Sony DSC-FX77.
(And by the way, can we just ask â€” whatâ€™s with Sonyâ€™s product names? All
these numbers drive us crazy.) The DSC-FX77 is a 4-megapixel camera (so you
Chapter 15: Using a Bluetooth Network
can take some really high-resolution shots that you can blow up into nearly
poster-sized prints), and if itâ€™s anything like the other (non-Bluetooth) Sony
digital cameras that weâ€™ve used, itâ€™s gotta take some great pictures. You can
find this camera on Sonyâ€™s main Web page in Japan (www.sony.co.jp).
Because this product is only currently available in Japan â€” and because we
canâ€™t read Japanese, either â€” we canâ€™t offer you any setup tips. Because the
camera is Bluetooth based, however, setup is probably like with all other
Bluetooth-enabled devices . . . you might need to install a driver, and it works
within range of other Bluetooth devices.
If youâ€™ve got a baby (or youâ€™re a budding Scorsese) and are into digital cam-
corders, Sony has several models that have Bluetooth connectivity built in.
This is great for sending still pictures over to your computer, but it might not
work all that great for sending long videos. Weâ€™d love to see 802.11 get put
into camcorders because the sheer size of video files means a long download
with a slower wireless link. These cameras can be found on Sonyâ€™s North
American Web page (in English, even!) at www.sony.com.
Keyboards and meeses (thatâ€™s plural
Wireless keyboards and mice have been around for a while (Dannyâ€™s been
swearing by his Logitech wireless mouse for years and years), but theyâ€™ve been
a bit clunky. In order to get them working, you had to buy a pair of radio trans-
ceivers to plug into your computer, and then you had to worry about interfer-
ence between your mouse and other devices in your home. With Bluetooth,
things get a lot easier. If your PC (or PDA for that matter) has Bluetooth built in,
you donâ€™t need to buy any special adapters or transceivers â€” just put the bat-
teries in your keyboard and mouse and start working. (You probably wonâ€™t
even need to install any special software or drivers on your PC to make this
work.) Check out the Bluetooth keyboard from the Korean company Bluelogic
(www.bluelogic.co.kr) â€” itâ€™s a very cool device that should be available by
the time you read this (it was announced but not yet being shipped as we
If your PC is not already Bluetooth equipped, you might consider buying
Microsoftâ€™s Wireless Optical Desktop (www.microsoft.com/hardware/
keyboard/wodbt_info.asp; about $160). This system includes both a
full-function wireless keyboard (one of those cool Microsoft models with
a ton of extra buttons for special functions such as audio volume, MP3 fast
forward/rewind, and special keys for Microsoft Office programs), a wireless
optical mouse (no mouse ball to clean â€” as an aside, if you havenâ€™t used an
optical mouse yet, you really need to try one!), and a Bluetooth adapter that
plugs into one of your PCâ€™s USB ports. This adapter turns your PC into a
288 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network
Bluetooth PC. In other words, it can be used with any Bluetooth device, not
just with the keyboard and mouse that come in the box with it. So this kit is a
great way to unwire your mouse and keyboard and get a Bluetooth PC, all in
one fell swoop.
The Wireless Optical Desktop is really easy to set up. You just need to plug
the receiver into a USB port on the back of your computer and install the key-
board and mouse driver software. (This isnâ€™t really even a Bluetooth require-
ment, but rather, it allows you to use all the special buttons on the keyboard
and extra mouse buttons on the mouse.) You do, however, have to have an
up-to-date version of Windows XP (which you can update by using XPâ€™s built-
in software update program) or a Macintosh with the latest version of OS X.
If your PC doesnâ€™t have built-in Bluetooth (and most donâ€™t, although a growing
number of laptop computers, such as Appleâ€™s 17" G4 PowerBook â€” Pat really
wants one of these â€” and some Toshiba and Sony VAIO laptops do ship with
built-in Bluetooth), youâ€™ll need some sort of adapter, just like youâ€™ll need an
802.11 adapter to connect your PC to your wireless LAN. The most common
way to get Bluetooth onto your PC is by using a USB adapter (or dongle).
These compact devices (about the size of your pinkie â€” unless youâ€™re in the
NBA, in which case, weâ€™ll say half a pinkie) plug directly into a USB port and
are self-contained Bluetooth adapters. In other words, they need no external
power supply or antenna. Figure 15-1 shows the D-Link USB Bluetooth adapter.
size of a
Because Bluetooth is a relatively low-speed connection (remember the maxi-
mum speed is only 732 Kbps), USB connections â€” which are too slow for
high-speed wireless LAN adapters like 802.11a and g adapters â€” are always
going to be fast enough for Bluetooth. So you donâ€™t need to worry about
having an available Ethernet, PC Card, or other high-speed connection avail-
able on your PC.
Chapter 15: Using a Bluetooth Network
(Un)plugging into Bluetooth access points
Although most people use Bluetooth to con- 100 meters, although your range will be limited
nect to devices in a peer-to-peer fashion â€” by the range of the devices that youâ€™re con-
connecting two devices directly together using necting to the AP, which is typically much
a Bluetooth airlink connection â€” there might shorter) and connect to your wireless home net-
be situations where you want to be able to con- work with a wired Ethernet connection. Belkinâ€™s
nect Bluetooth devices to your wireless home AP also includes a USB print server, so you can
network itself (or to the Internet through your connect any standard USB printer to the AP and
wireless home network). Enter the Bluetooth share it with both Bluetooth devices and any
access point. Like the wireless access points device connected to your wireless home net-
that we discuss throughout the book, Bluetooth work (including 802.11 devices â€” as long as
access points provide a means of connecting your wireless home network is connected to the
multiple Bluetooth devices to a wired network same Ethernet network).
Moving forward, we expect to see access points
Bluetooth APs, like Belkinâ€™s Bluetooth Access with both 802.11 and Bluetooth functionality built
Point ($169), have a high-powered Bluetooth in â€” multipurpose access points that can con-
radio system (meaning they can reach as far as nect to any wireless device in your home.
Because many people have more USB devices than USB ports on their com-
puters, they often use USB hubs, which connect to one of the USB ports on
the back of the computer and connect multiple USB devices through the hub
to that port. When youâ€™re using USB devices (such as Bluetooth adapters)
that require power from the USB port, itâ€™s best to plug them directly into the
PC itself and not into a hub. If you need to use a hub, make sure that itâ€™s a
powered hub (with its own cord running to a wall outlet or power strip).
Insufficient power from an unpowered hub is perhaps the most common
cause of USB problems.
If youâ€™ve got a lot of USB devices, using a USB hub is really simple. Weâ€™ve
never seen one that even required any special software to be loaded. Just
plug the hub (use a standard USB cable â€” there should be one in the box
with the hub) into one of the USB ports on the back of your PC. If itâ€™s a pow-
ered hub (which we recommend), plug the power cord into your power strip
and into the back of the hub (thereâ€™ll be a designated power outlet there),
and youâ€™re ready to go! Easy as can be. Now you can plug any USB device that
youâ€™ve got (keyboard, mouse, digital camera, printer, you name it) into the
hub and away you go.
Street prices for these USB Bluetooth adapters generally run under a hundred
dollars, and you can find them at most computer stores (both online and the