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

Socket Communications Bluetooth CompactFlash Card

Rejoice Jornada owners, here's a Bluetooth card in a type I package. Since the Jornada can't take the more common CF type II Bluetooth cards, this will make network-hungry Jornada owners happy. The card also works with Handheld PC 2000 PDAs, such as the Jornada 720 along with Pocket PC and Pocket PC 2002 PDAs. You can use the card with a PC Card adapter in your Windows notebook (if drivers aren't on the CD, you can register your card on Socket's website and request the drivers be sent to you. The card is now certified BT version 1.1 and if your card isn't 1.1. you can download the updater from Socket's website. Be sure to download the latest software and drivers because many improvements have been added in July 2002.

Installation and Setup

Once you install the software from the CD, the Bluetooth Wizard walks you through configuring BT on your Pocket PC. This software seems to be a bit different: it wants you to have 6 COM ports free, because it assigns a different COM port to each function (printing, cell phone, LAN, fax, desktop sync, serial port). Most other BT products use one COM port for incomming communications and another for outgoing communications, for a total of 2 COM ports. If you don't need all these functions or don't have that many COM ports free, you can un-check any of the boxes you wish except for the cell phone connection.

The card's software really was designed with BT cell phone users in mind. The next step in the Wizard involves setting up communications with your BT cell phone. The card supports the Ericsson r520, T39, T68; Motorola 270C; Nokia 6210, 6310, 6310i, 7650, 8910; NTT DoCoMo PALDIO 633S; Sony C413S according to Socket. The Wizard will walk you through discovery, establishing a PIN and bonding with your phone. After that, you'll go to the operating systems Connections screen and setup dialup networking to use the Bluetooth Phone driver available in the pop-up list.

Beyond the Wizard

After you've setup your card, each time you insert it, you'll see the BT icon in your PDA's system tray. Clicking on it brings up a menu which allows you to turn the radio on and off, launch BT ActiveSync, connect to a LAN, Get Connected (run the Wizard), and go to Advanced Features. You may also manually configure your settings if the Wizard isn't adding enough magic to your BT experience.

 

Socket Communications 802.11.b network Bluetooth CF card

 

 


ActiveSync Wirelessly

As with iPAQ and Belkin BT, you'll use the Bluetooth ActiveSync menu item in the BT software rather than the operating system's standard ActiveSync found under the Start Menu. The driver will show you a list of PCs it's found and allow you to search for more. Tap on the PC you wish to sync with and you're off. Not only can you sync to your desktop/notebook computer, but if it has Internet access, your PDA will also be able to access the Internet while connected via ActiveSyc. Cool!

Connecting to a BT LAN works similarly, though I'm not sure how many folks have BT access points yet (they're not that common and are still expensive).

Faxing

Socket includes a fax driver, so you can use your BT phone (as long as it's capable of faxing) as a fax. You'll need to assign you phone as your "favorite" fax before using it.

Dialer

Yep, you get a Dialer app with the Socket card and it works with Nokia and Ericsson GSM phones. Us rare Motorola v270c CDMA owners won't be able to use the Dialer (this seems to be true of the Dialer app included with all the BT cards we tested). The Dialer app is very simple: you tell it your local area code and any required dialing prefix and you're done. Thereafter, if you want your PDA to tell your phone to dial a contact, simply press and hold the stylus down on the contact's name in your address book and select the Dial Contact option from the pop-up menu.

Killing Trees

Yep, you can print too! The Socket card ships with a 30 day demo of PrintPocketCE. As covered in our introduction to BT, this is a must have app if you want to print via BT or IR from your Pocket PC. In PrintPocketCE you'll select the port assigned to you BT Bluetooth printer (or serial port, depending on the printer) in the Socket setup, pick a printer from the long list of included drivers and of course select the file you wish to print. This feature worked well printing to the Anycom Printer Module we also reviewed.

 

Conclusion

A solid and reliable driver. Quite user-friendly by BT standards. Great for Jornada Pocket PC owners who must use a type I card. It may be a bit more expensive than its competitors, but you're paying extra for the small type I format. The use of 6 COM ports on the Pocket PC seems a bit strange, but generally isn't problematic as COM ports aren't usually filled as they are with desktop PCs. You can get away with using as few as one COM port if you only wish to use your cell phone.

Socket Communications, list price $179

 

 

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