Bluetooth

I was going to buy a Treo 600 but apparently shipments compatible with Cingular were delayed due to manufacturing problems.

While surfing I came across a post on a BBS where it was suggested that I forget about the Treo 600, which integrates phone, keyboard, mp3 player, camera, and browser, and instead get two things: a Bluetooth phone and a PDA enabled with Bluetooth. That way, I could take my nice small phone with me if I wanted or the larger PDA and the phone with me, if I wanted to surf the web or whatever.

So I went with this approach and thus became introduced to the wonderful world of Bluetooth.

Now it seems I have Bluetooth coming out my ears (literally - I have a Bluetooth headset).

First, the phone - a Sony Ericsson T616 - a very popular phone. It also had the advantage of being tri-band GSM, so it would work in France. It never did, but that's a different story.

The T616 also sports an itty-bitty camera, and enough memory to hold my contact list as well, so it has all my phone numbers without having to resort to the PDA.

The PDA I went with was the Sony Clie NZ-90. It obviously has Bluetooth. After upgrading it a bit, it also has Wi-Fi (802.11b), plus a Memory Stick slot for MP3 files. And it has a 2 megapixel camera which can also write to the Memory Stick. And a huge screen - 320 x 480. Here's a review.

It's pretty big as a PDA and heavy too - which is why it is great I can leave it behind on short trips and just use the phone.

Of course, I needed to sync my contacts etc. with my PC, so I bought a Linksys USB/Bluetooth adaptor. It works fine with Windows XP.

Then I need another Bluetooth adaptor for my work machine, so I bought another Linksys adaptor.

Then I wanted one of those cool wireless headsets, so I bought the Sony Ericsson HBH-35, which has the great feature of using the same charger as the phone - one less charger necessary when traveling.

So I don't have that many Bluetooth devices, but the number of ways they can interconnect is amazing.

My contacts are shared between the PC, the NZ-90, and the phone. I can dial phone numbers from the NZ-90. I can connect via Wi-Fi from the NZ-90 and surf, if Wi-Fi is available. I can connect via Bluetooth to the phone as a modem, if there is no available Wi-Fi connection. It's fast enough, especially with the Blazer browser. (Netfront is pretty bad.) I had the Blazer browser left over from my old PDA - a Handspring Visor Prism. Too bad the NZ-90 doesn't come with Blazer. What a great browser.

I can drag MIDI files from my PC (for example, ones that I have played on my keyboard, like this one) unto the phone and use them as ring tones. So now I get Maple Leaf Rag as performed by me as my ringtone! (The strange thing about this is that while I am making a connection via Bluetooth, which is pretty high-tech radio stuff, consider the small size of it all, the actual software protocol used to connect is FTP, one of the oldest protocols on the Internet.)

I can drag and/or send pictures between all three devices via Bluetooth.

This is amazing - I can connect my PC to the Bluetooth headset. I use the Linksys Quick Connect and connect to the headset (after pairing it, of course). The headset rings - that's how it shows that someone is trying to use it - it rings! I "answer" the call, and then I am connected to my PC, and the headset is made the default sound card. Bluetooth audio is fairly low-res, but it works! I could use it for audio conferencing over the PC.

The biggest downside is that an hour of phone use with Bluetooth active can use up a lot of battery power. But since I have a car charger that will charge the phone and the headset, plus a spare battery for the NZ-90, I'm generally in fine shape.

Sony has discontinued almost all of their Clie (Palm-combatible) PDAs due to lack of demand. I can understand this - my approach here has been fairly geeky. Overall I'm happy with it. I look forward in a year or two when a smaller, more powerful PDA comes out that will be compatible with everything I have and an easy upgrade.