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Bluetooth Networking for your Computer
by Lisa Gade, Editor-in-Chief
, July 2003

Anycom USB Adapter USB-220

Anycom makes a great selection of BT products, including a PC card, CF card, printer module, access point, headset and a USB adapter. With that large product selection, you get the feeling these guys know Bluetooth!

We tested their USB-220 adapter which works with Windows machines and the Mac under OS X 10.2. It has a class 1 radio, which means it has excellent range compared to class 2 radio adapters, and has a claimed range of 100 meters (300 feet). I was able to get about 40 feet away (through walls) from the PC and maintain a connection with PDAs. The adapter is reasonably small, and the antenna section can be swiveled using a joint that mounts close to the base (see image below). The adapter comes with a plastic cover to protect the USB connector when in transit and has a single activity light.

As with WiFi cards in Windows 98SE through XP, you can create your own network and share an Internet connection by using two adapters on two machines (one machine must have Internet access so that it can share that connection with the other Bluetooth enabled machine). While this kind of setup is more complicated than connecting to an access point, it can be very cost effective since Bluetooth access points often cost several hundred dollars.

 

Installation

Simply pop the CD into your computer and run the installer to place the driver and software on your PC. You'll likely need to reboot to complete the installation, and then you'll be ready to configure the adapter to connect to a variety of devices such as mobile phones, access points and PDAs. You can ActiveSync with BT-enabled Pocket PCs, HotSync with BT enabled Palm OS devices such as the Sony Clié TG50 and NZ90 or the Palm Tunsten T. I even synced and installed software on a Sony Ericsson P800 via Bluetooth.

There are no drivers or software for Mac users, but Bluetooth support and drivers are built into OS X 10.2 (Jaguar). This means you can plug the adapter into a USB port and be up and running. With Jaguar, you can connect to a BT mobile phone, HotSync an BT enabled Palm OS PDA or sync a BT-enabled cell phone.

Using Bluetooth on your PC

The USB-220 has profiles for connections to other desktops, notebooks, access points, modems, headsets, audio gateway, PDAs and printers. It supports the following services: Bluetooth Serial Port, Dial-up Networking, Fax, File Transfter, PIM item transfer (business card, calendar items and etc), network access, headset and audio gateway (for connecting to speakers and mics that have BT).

Once installation is complete, you'll see a "My Bluetooth Places" icon on your desktop and a Bluetooth icon in your system tray. Right-click on the system tray icon to Explore BT devices, configure your setup and start BT communications with devices you'e already discovered. You can use the Wizard to discover and connect to devices: first you discover the device, then you select the services you'd like to use. The configuration program is a multi-tabbed interface that allows to set security, filter which devices can communicate with your desktop/notebook, setup fax and dial-up networking services, file sharing and assign serial ports to legacy devices.

Anycom Bluetooth USB adapter

 

Once you've discovered your devices, you can right-click on the system tray icon and use the "Services" hierarchical menu to quickly start LAN Networking (if you have a BT access point), file transfer, fax, dialup networking and etc.. The "My Bluetooth Places" on the desktop works like Network Neighborhood, but instead shows you BT devices in range, allows you to explore for new devices and add them to your "neighborhood". The applicaton is very user-friendly. As part of the installation process, a new LAN connection is created with the network card listed as Bluetooth LAN Access Server Driver. It runs the same protocols as most commonly configured Ethernet cards: Client for MS Networks, File and Printer Sharing, TCP/IP and NetBUI.

Remember when connecting to Pocket PCs, Palm OS PDAs or Symbian smarthones, you must set the PDAs desktop software (ActiveSync, HotSync or PC Suite) to use the serial port of your Anycom adapter before you can sync.

Conclusion

It works out of the box! Not something you can say about all Bluetooth adapters. Though I do suggest you read the excellent PDF manual included on the CD: it walks you through most every connection type. The Anycom USB-220 has great range, and very full-featured, user-friendly software that's reliable. If you're looking for a wireless syncing solution for your PDA, then the Anycom will be your friend. It also works well as a way to use your BT-enabled mobile phone as a modem for your notebook.

Anycom www.anycom.com $54.95

 

 

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