US manufacturer Anycom supplied one more piece to the Bluetooth puzzle last week with what it says is the first commercially available Compact Flash (CF) Bluetooth card for handhelds devices and PCs in the US and Europe.
Compact Flash is used by many handhelds, notably Microsoft Windows-powered PDAs (personal digital assistants) such as the HP Jornada and Compaq iPaq, and the cards can be adapted to fit into standard PC card slots found in laptops and desktop computers. Because Bluetooth uses little power, it is aimed at mobile devices with limited battery life.
Bluetooth -- a radio technology that lets devices communicate with each other wirelessly -- is now being built into mobile phones such as Ericsson's R520m and T39 handsets, and is even available in some peripherals such as printers and camcorders. The launch of a CF card means that many handheld users will, for the first time, be able to wirelessly connect with their PCs or laptops or surf the Web via their mobiles.
The CF card can also be used with a laptop as a low-power connection to the wireless LAN.
"With the addition of our Compact Flash Card, users are finally able to achieve real-world solutions using Bluetooth, including accessing email, the Internet, and corporate
intranets while on the road," said Anycom president and chief executive Tom Pocsics, in a statement.
Anycom's $199 (£140) device is compatible with Windows handheld and desktop operating systems. Bluetooth devices for Palm Computing handhelds, including sleds and Secure Digital cards -- have also been announced and are expected to be available by the end of the year.
Bluetooth has been heavily hyped for several years, but commercial hardware is only now becoming widely available. In the mean time, the technology's market may have narrowed because of the increasing popularity of 802.11b wireless LAN, according to experts. An additional hurdle is the user interface for making Bluetooth connections, which has been called confusing and clunky.
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