Socket launches Pocket PC Bluetooth

New card joins slowly growing list of Bluetooth-enabled products

US-based Socket Communications has released a collection of Compact Flash-based communications products for handheld computers, including a Bluetooth add-on for Microsoft Windows CE-based devices.

The Bluetooth card, announced on Monday, is one of the first to appear for a PDA (personal digital assistant), taking advantage of what industry analysts say could prove a killer application for mobile devices. Bluetooth is designed to replace cables, making it simple for a PDA to connect to any Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone for Internet access -- a feature which until now has required an infrared connection or a special cable.

Bluetooth can also be used to connect PDAs, PCs, laptops, mobile phones and other devices to one another. Sony has launched a Bluetooth-capable laptop and Toshiba this week will be the first to release a laptop with both Bluetooth and wireless LAN (otherwise known as WiFi).

Socket is pricing its Bluetooth Connection Kit at $179 (about £125). The kit is currently available in Europe, and will be launched in the US in October.

Anycom launched what it claims is the first Bluetooth CF card for Windows CE devices earlier this month. TDK has released a similar Bluetooth clip-on for Palm devices.

Ericsson sells one mobile phone handset with built-in Bluetooth and is planning others for a Christmas launch, while Nokia offers a Bluetooth add-on battery for some models. Most mobile phone makers have announced Bluetooth plans.

Socket also launched several other connectivity CF cards for Pocket PC, including a 56K modem, a 10/100 Ethernet card and several additions to its series of cards for connecting via a cable to a mobile phone.

The mobile phone cards now include support for Palm m500-series devices.

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