Socket Bluetooth Connection Kit for CE

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INTRODUCTION

    We’ve been touting

Bluetooth at pocketnow for what seems like ages,

and yet still it hasn’t hugely impacted the

way we go about our computing lives. Is the

cause of this pricing? Nah, as chip prices are

almost at the point where including the radio

in a given product has negligible cost effects.

Is this it the availability of devices that

take advantage of BT? Partially. There are a

bunch of BT headsets, printers, LAN stations,

phones, etc., but all of these things seem kind

of gimmicky to me. What’s the biggest reason?

Microsoft! Feel free to disagree with me on

this; however, time after time again, it is

only after Microsoft has graced a technology

with its blessing that it becomes commonplace.

Look at 802.11b. The average consumer was clueless

about WiFi until they began using it in Windows

XP. I’m sure there are plenty of smaller and

less dramatic examples, but the fact remains

that Microsoft drives technologies. I don’t

believe it will be until we see Bluetooth support

in Windows that John Q. Public will have any

desire to look for the Bluetooth certified logo

on products he purchases.

   

Until such a time as we get a BT-ready Windows,

we’ll be left with mere blips on the excitement

scale. Folks like Socket continue to make their

offerings better and better, and their current

Bluetooth Connection Kit is no exception. Because

most BT software is comparable, we’ll quickly

go through some of the special offerings of

the BCK as well as detail its interface.

   

Supported Bluetooth profiles include Dial-up

networking, serial port, general access, service

discovery, fax, and LAN via PPP. A strong omission

is Bluetooth headset, though right now, the

only Phone-ready device with an available CF

slot is the Jornada 928.

IN

THE BOX

   Or, more appropriately,

"the box." Socket takes a lot of pride

in the aesthetics of their packaging, and it

shows. Just makes the purchasing experience

that more enjoyable.

Box

front

Box

rear

Socket

prefers the internal antenna design for most

of their products. Their competition loves to

assert the internal antenna reduces the range

of use, but such hasn’t been the case in my

experience. The BCK is a CompactFlash Type I

card.

Front

of card.

Rear

of card.

SETUP

   Socket’s UI team is very

wizard-centric, and I have no problem with that.

Especially on a small screen, wizard help to

provide a layer of abstraction, allowing users

to ignore little specific details that most

people could care less about, thus getting new

users on their way quickly.

Start

the wizard.

Name

your device

Create

virtual ports for your device. That’s it!

Now

you’ll see a Bluetooth icon in the system tray.

Clicking

on the tray icon lets you turn off the transmitter,

connect to a phone, manage your Bluetooth environment,

and access those common virtual ports.

PROGRAM

FEATURES

    As I see it, the

most common application of these Bluetooth communication

cards for PDAs is to hook a PDA up with a BT-ready

phone, for purposes of getting on the Internet

through your phone. Though you shouldn’t expect

any breakneck speeds over a connection like

this, it’s a relatively quick and painless way

to get your Pocket PC online. The first thing

we’ll check out is the wizard allowing you to

hook up with a phone. In this case, we used

an Ericsson T68. See our review of this cool

device here.

Pick

your phone.

With

each phone you select, you’ll get one or more

screens of instructions telling you how to prepare

your phone for the upcoming Bluetooth connection.

Second

page of T68 instructions.

Now

the phone will be sought after . . .

a

T68 was found . . .

device

bonding . . .

a

Bluetooth Passkey is typically require for security

purposes . . .

Now

we have a T68 within our Bluetooth neighborhood.

Clicking on its icon reveals its properties

. . .

And

the Services tab shows what we can do with it

. . .

key

for us will be the dial-up networking profile.

We’ll use this to connect to the Internet.

In

Connection Manager, we’ll create a new dialing

connection. We will use the virtual Bluetooth

COM port called "Bluetooth Phone"

to dial out.

Now

we can just "dial over BT" by right

clicking on our newly-created entry. And just

like that, we’re on the Internet, albeit with

limited bandwidth. Finding a Bluetooth device

in your area has its own wizard.

Start

Wizard

What

kind of device are you looking for?

I’ve

found a Bluetooth-enabled Pocket PC. This just

happens to be my 3970. See our review here.

HELP

SUPPORT

    Socket provides

the majority of their support through the so-called

Socket Forum, available here.

If the forum route doesn’t work for you, contact

them through this

page.

OPTIONS

    Back in the tray

menu (see above), there was an important menu

selection in Advanced Features -> My Bluetooth

Device.

Here

you can change information pertaining to your

card

As

well as switch between the available virtual

COM ports.

SYSTEM

REQUIREMENTS

    You’ll need about

two megabytes of free storage space to install

all the drivers and utilities included in the

setup package. Program memory requirements are

around 500 kb. Both Pocket PC 2000 and Pocket

PC 2002 devices are supported. It goes without

saying that your device will need a CompactFlash

Type I slot.

BUGS

AND WISHES

    WCK is Bluetooth

v1.1 compliant, so you really can’t complain

about its protocol support. However, having

support for the Bluetooth phone headset would

be nice, once Pocket PC Phones become more prevalent

and some appear with CF slots. Oh, and where

is your SD-format card, Socket? Seeing that

alone would definitely excite me.

PURCHASING

    I’m surprised how

quickly the price of this package has come down!

For $112.49 USD, you can get a new BCK from

Amazon.com. Click here

to purchase.

PROS


  • Great

    wizard interface


  • Get

    online with a BT-ready phone easily


  • Price

    is right

CONS

  • No

    headset profile support (yet)

  • CompactFlash

    is luke warm; where’s SD?

OVERALL

IMPRESSION

   Perhaps the most exciting

product ever made, the Socket Bluetooth Connection

Kit makes it a breeze to get online with your

Pocket PC, as long as you have a Bluetooth-ready

phone to get you there. If this scenario doesn’t

fit your lifestyle, then perhaps you have a

Bluetooth LAN access point. Else, you’re like

me, and you’ll keep waiting for the next big

thing in Bluetooth peripherals. Guesses as to

what that might be?

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About The Author
Jared Miniman