There was once an era when it was known to everyone that wireless meant the radio. A generation later when the television set had populated the living room of most homes, the meaning of wireless had faded, but not really changed. Those times are now long gone though. The term wireless in present days refers to the cell phone and such related matters as your computer wirelessly connecting to and syncing with your cell phone, PDA, DVD player, keyboard or mouse.
Bluetooth technology has emerged in recent years as a popular way to connect local devices wirelessly. Bluetooth can as such be thought of as a cable replacement technology. Typical uses include automatically synchronizing contact and calendar information among desktop, laptop and palmtop computers without connecting cables. Bluetooth can also be used to access a network or the Internet with a laptop computer by connecting wirelessly to a cell phone.
Harold Bluetooth (911-987), son of King Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra Danebod
The heart of the Bluetooth brand identity is the name, which refers to the Danish king Harold Bluetooth (Harald Blåtand) who unified Denmark and conquered Norway. In the beginning of its wireless technology era, Bluetooth was aimed at unifying the telecom and computing industries. Bluetooth is the name for a short-range radio frequency (RF) technology that operates at 2.4 GHz and is capable of transmitting voice and data. The effective range of Bluetooth devices is 32 feet. Data transfers are at the rate of 1 Mbps, which is from 3 to 8 times the average speed of parallel and serial ports, respectively.
The following describes how Bluetooth can be used to make a desktop computer communicate with a cell phone. It would be tempting to say that I, who have little interest in gadgets, wrote these lines, because I am Danish, as was Harold Bluetooth, but I have known for years that the Bluetooth technology was created by Scandinavian engineers, just as I as a child was told of this Viking king, who is known for his unification of previously warring tribes from Denmark, Norway and Sweden more than a thousand years ago.
The versatile V551 cell phone by Motorola, arguably the king of clamshells
It is however a Motorola V551 cell phone, whose iSync support in Mac OS X 10.4 aka Tiger led to this web page. I could have written about a Palm Tungsten E too, but only its successor, the E2, offers Bluetooth (along these lines, a USB cable is an alternate way of connecting to the V551). The first computers I looked at for my wireless fun were a Macintosh G5 and a G4; they both turned out to be "Bluetooth ready". One additional piece of hardware was needed though, so I got a hold of a USB Bluetooth Adapter. Then and only then was I ready.
Bluetooth on the Mac is as easy as can be. I popped the adapter into a keyboard USB port, then navigated the V551 to Settings, Connection, Bluetooth Link, Setup and pressed Find Me to make it Discoverable. In the Mac's System Preferences in Network, Network Port Configurations, I was prompted to bond the cell phone with the computer by entering a displayed six digit number on the cell. That was it to make the two devices become instant friends.
D-Link DBT-120 USB Bluetooth Adapter for Macintosh and Windows
What can the connection be used for? Mac OS X includes three applications entitled iSync, Address Book and iCal. They are somewhat neglected on the UC Berkeley campus due to PDAs, email address books (e.g. Eudora) and a networked calendar system (CalAgenda), so I can't say I have ever really spent much time on them, but with a cell phone they work wonders. iSync is used to synchronize contacts and events, on the cell stored in Address Book and Datebook respectively, so things are in place from the get go.
The D-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter also works on Windows boxes. But while the D-Link Quick Installation Guide needs to devote only half a page to the Mac, six and a half pages plus a CD containing drivers and documentation are called for in Windows. You install the software, then pop in the Bluetooth adapter, and once you have completed the installation tour in the Bluetooth Configuration Wizard and located your cell phone wirelessly, you can move on to using the connection for things like data syncing or file transfer, for which the Bluetooth icon in the System tray and the My Bluetooth Places icon on the desktop come in handy. The DBT-120 Manual on the CD writes of this.