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Bluetooth Networking for your Palm, Pocket PC and Computer
by Lisa Gade, Editor-in-Chief

Belkin Bluetooth CF Adapter Card and Bluetooth USB Adapter

If you've ever used BT on an iPAQ, the Belkin Bluetooth CF Adapter card software will look familar to you because it's the same! The type II CF card works with Pocket PCs and Pocket PC 2002 PDAs, and transfers data at a maximum of 721kbps. As of Feb. 2004, there are no Pocket PC 2003 (Windows Mobile 2003) drivers for this card.

The USB adapter supports Microsoft® Windows® 98 SE, Me, 2000, and XP, comes with a 5 foot extension cable and has a range of 100 meters. You can use it on a notebook or desktop computer.

The Belkin CF Card

Installation is straight forward: run the setup program on the CD and it'll install the driver onto your PDA. I tested it with an iPAQ 3835, and soft reset the PDA after installation was complete. To use the software, simply launch the Bluetooth Manager in your Start Menu.

While you won't see the myriad icons that you get with the Anycom CF card, rest assured you haven't been shorted. Most all things you need to do are integrated into the Bluetooth Manager, and resident icon in the system tray making for easy "one stop shopping". You can turn the radio on, set its power level, get status (a list of current connections and signal strength), start ActiveSync, and discover and configure your connection to BT devices in range.

*Note: One thing to note is that unlike the Anycom card, you should not configure your PDA to use a serial port assignment for ActiveSync-ing to your desktop computer. If you do, then you won't be able to connect via ActiveSync until you remove the serial port assignment. Once you've bonded with or connected to your desktop and checked the "ActiveSync Partner" checkbox, you need only start ActiveSync from the Bluetooth icon in the system tray on your Pocket PC to ActiveSync. Do not use the regular ActiveSync app to connect!

The first time you launch Bluetooth Manager, and thereafter until you save discovered BT devices, it'll ask you if you want to search for devices. You can let it find all available devices, or filter categories such as LAN access points, headsets, cell phones and etc (the list is quite long). You should save discovered devices that you plan to use now or in the future. These will show up in your BT Manager window, and you can think of them as your BT favorites. You can save devices into groups, such as home and work, and delete devices that you no longer use.

You'll also set a passkey (PIN) if you like and whether or not permission is required for a device to connect to your Pocket PC. For each device, you'll be able to setup file sharing, PIM and business card transfer, LAN access and dialing. If you wish to print to a BT printer, you'll need to get yourself a copy of PocketPrintCE if you wish to print (see our mini-review of the software if you haven't yet read it).

Unlike the Anycom, you don't get drivers for Windows machines or a PC card adapter. However, it is one of the least expensive CF BT cards, priced at $89.90 list.

Belkin Bluetooth CF and USB adapters

Belkin Bluetooth CF card and USB adapter

 

 

Belkin USB Adapter model F8T001

I don't know about you, but I already have way too many USB devices connected to my PC: a few PDAs, a printer, graphics tablet, GameShark for GameBoy Advance (I need all the help I can get with games, and wish I were our game guru JadeDragon!), and a 5-in-1 memory card reader. I was worried that one more complex USB device would break the bank. But the software and driver for the Belkin USB adapter installed and worked without a problem! Yeehah! It's a small unit that plugs either directly into your USB port or can be used with the included 5 foot extension cable. The shark fin antenna swivels up for use, and flat beside the unit for storage and transport. For those of you who run Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), you'll be happy to know the Belkin USB adapter works fine using Jaguar's Bluetooth driver.

Get the Belkin Bluetooth USB Adaptor from Amazon.com for $40.91!

What will you See on the PC?

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. 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.

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". These tools are some of the most user-friendly I've seen so far for desktop BT. You'll also notice that the Belkin software creates a new LAN connection 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.

Belkin, www.belkin.com $89 US for CF adapter, $79 for USB adapter

 

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