Palm Not Brushing Off Bluetooth
Palm continues to strongly support Bluetooth, a short-range wireless protocol, over its rival, 802.11b. Yesterday, they demonstrated how a Palm handheld and Bluetooth card could wirelessly connect to a wireless phone, corporate LAN, and printer.
However, they are aware that Bluetooth has been over-sold and has under-delivered. For at least three years, Bluetooth's backers have promised that "next year" is the year Bluetooth will catch on. This might finally be the year. A good number of Bluetooth-related items are going to hit the market in the next six months but the slowing U.S. economy is almost certainly going to hurt sales of these.
John Cook, Palm's senior director of product marketing, said, "I think companies are looking at their dollars, and the jury's still out on Bluetooth. We've got a challenge.''
Palm hasn't exactly bet the farm on Bluetooth but they have committed a great deal of time and effort to it. They have promised to release a Bluetooth SD card by the end of this year and Palm-branded handhelds next year with Bluetooth built in.
While Bluetooth has been languishing, the rival 802.11b has made a strong showing. Its advantages over Bluetooth are its greater range, 300 feet vs. 30 feet, and a higher connect speed, 11 Mbps vs. 1 Mbps. Its drawbacks from a handheld perspective are that 802.11b will draw much more power and requires more circuitry.
Several Bluetooth add-on modules for the Palm V series have been announced in the past few months.
Sony is expected to have a Bluetooth Memory Stick available soon. Xircom already has an 802.11b Springboard available and is working on a Bluetooth one.
Bluetooth is the name of a short-range radio frequency (RF) technology that replaces cables. Bluetooth allows computers, peripherals, and other devices to communicate with each other without having a physical connection, or direct line-of-sight with each other, and without needing extra communication protocols. Bluetooth technology operates at 2.4 GHz and is capable of transmitting voice and data. The effective range of Bluetooth devices is 32 feet (10 meters). Bluetooth transfers data at the rate of 1 Mbps, which is from three to eight times the average speed of parallel and serial ports, respectively. Bluetooth technology allows users to create a PAN (Personal Area Network) in which they can synchronize data with handhelds and PCs, and access data and E-mail on handhelds remotely with the use of a Bluetooth enabled cellular phone.
802.11b Wireless LAN, also known as Wireless Ethernet, is a radio frequency (RF) network access technology. It allows users to access information wirelessly throughout a home, business or campus location. The technology is most often used to expand the coverage of a wired LAN, but, it can also be used to replace wired networks. The technology can require the installation of access points (radio transceivers) to provide wireless coverage across a local area. Wireless LAN can also exist in a Peer-to-Peer setting, between devices that have WLAN access modules. The 802.11b standard ensures interoperability among WLAN networks by implementing regulations for WLAN product manufacturers. Businesses, schools, and other institutions often find it beneficial to standardize equipment so that they can combine hardware from different vendors. Home users who purchase 802.11b compliant products are assured that they will work with products produced by various manufacturers.
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