Palm Not Brushing Off Bluetooth

Palm continues to strongly support Bluetooth, a short-range wireless protocol, over its rival, 802.11b. Yesterday, they demonstrated how a Palm handheld and Bluetooth card could wirelessly connect to a wireless phone, corporate LAN, and printer.

However, they are aware that Bluetooth has been over-sold and has under-delivered. For at least three years, Bluetooth's backers have promised that "next year" is the year Bluetooth will catch on. This might finally be the year. A good number of Bluetooth-related items are going to hit the market in the next six months but the slowing U.S. economy is almost certainly going to hurt sales of these.

John Cook, Palm's senior director of product marketing, said, "I think companies are looking at their dollars, and the jury's still out on Bluetooth. We've got a challenge.''

Palm hasn't exactly bet the farm on Bluetooth but they have committed a great deal of time and effort to it. They have promised to release a Bluetooth SD card by the end of this year and Palm-branded handhelds next year with Bluetooth built in.

While Bluetooth has been languishing, the rival 802.11b has made a strong showing. Its advantages over Bluetooth are its greater range, 300 feet vs. 30 feet, and a higher connect speed, 11 Mbps vs. 1 Mbps. Its drawbacks from a handheld perspective are that 802.11b will draw much more power and requires more circuitry.

Several Bluetooth add-on modules for the Palm V series have been announced in the past few months.

Sony is expected to have a Bluetooth Memory Stick available soon. Xircom already has an 802.11b Springboard available and is working on a Bluetooth one.

About Bluetooth
Bluetooth is the name of a short-range radio frequency (RF) technology that replaces cables. Bluetooth allows computers, peripherals, and other devices to communicate with each other without having a physical connection, or direct line-of-sight with each other, and without needing extra communication protocols. Bluetooth technology operates at 2.4 GHz and is capable of transmitting voice and data. The effective range of Bluetooth devices is 32 feet (10 meters). Bluetooth transfers data at the rate of 1 Mbps, which is from three to eight times the average speed of parallel and serial ports, respectively. Bluetooth technology allows users to create a PAN (Personal Area Network) in which they can synchronize data with handhelds and PCs, and access data and E-mail on handhelds remotely with the use of a Bluetooth enabled cellular phone.

About 802.11b
802.11b Wireless LAN, also known as Wireless Ethernet, is a radio frequency (RF) network access technology. It allows users to access information wirelessly throughout a home, business or campus location. The technology is most often used to expand the coverage of a wired LAN, but, it can also be used to replace wired networks. The technology can require the installation of access points (radio transceivers) to provide wireless coverage across a local area. Wireless LAN can also exist in a Peer-to-Peer setting, between devices that have WLAN access modules. The 802.11b standard ensures interoperability among WLAN networks by implementing regulations for WLAN product manufacturers. Businesses, schools, and other institutions often find it beneficial to standardize equipment so that they can combine hardware from different vendors. Home users who purchase 802.11b compliant products are assured that they will work with products produced by various manufacturers.

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Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 11:17:13 AM #
Why has the media gotten into an obsession of comparing the two?
802.11b is a network protocol.
Bluetooth is NOT.

802.11b is well established, and the hardware is approaching commodity price levels.
BT is still pretty close to cutting edge, if not actually on it.

Personally, I think BT is one of those solution-in-search-of-a-problem things, but I'm sure others disagree. To quote someone I heard once, "The very, very best wireless devices are /almost/ as reliable as plugging the da--ed thing in."

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 11:29:42 AM #

Need both
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 12:07:04 PM #
Then Palm should include more support for the 802.11 protocol. Visor and Palm have a solution, but it's a tad clunky.

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 12:54:03 PM #
I agree, you never hear the media say things like "Now that I have 10 base T etheernet, I won't be needing USB, firewire, or serial." but they seem to do it with wireless technologies.

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 1:31:10 PM #
It maybe so, but if I stand in a hardware store isle, I wouldn't care if one is protocol and the other is cable replacement scheme.

The Box sit next to each other, they do the same basic function, and they priced in the same range.

It's like comparing 2 door sedan or a low end sport sedan. For all practical purposes the customer and intended use is highly overlapped.

SO to a customer it will come down to:
-will it work?
-how much does it cost?

whichever over more bang for the buck win. Nobody care if one a network protocol the other a cable replacement scheme.

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 7:02:00 PM #
But that's just it - THEY DON"T DO THE SAME THING

802.11 is for connecting devices to networks.
BT is for connecting devices to EVERYTHING ELSE.

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 11:44:49 PM #
Finally, a voice of thought and reason.

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 12:08:42 AM #
Gee shucks, thanks! :-)

It's an education that the BT SIG needs to be performing better. They are reactive, not proactive - and with a new technology you gotta get out in the streets and make sure the correct facts are being quoted... as much as possible anyway.

Basic ignorance is 95% of poor journalism.

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 12:47:06 AM #
sure there is two or three phone with bluetooh module built in to talk to another device, but that's IT!

and when bluetooth come out for Palm, one can safely assume most of the time it will be used to sync with desktop computer or the network. (guess what network it has to talk to? ...ta da....)

if one wants merely to sync Palm to a phone, would you rather pay a cheap cable and skip building dual Bluetooth/802.11 network at home and office or building dual standart network and spend more money?

gimme a break, that's MAJOR hassle.

unless the idea of spending $200 bluetooth SD card just for syncing with few phones that have yet to be introduced in US is considered irrestably appealing, then I don't see how the argument of 802.11b network can be dismissed.

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 7:12:05 PM #
Look past what is available TODAY. Bluetooth is an EMERGING technology. Sure there are only a few devices on the market today, but down the track there will be LOTS - and that's when it gets interesting.

Anyone out there read the Evans Data report on what companies are currently doing in the wireless space? Let me quote a bit from

"The study deals with what technologies developers are including in their
efforts. While the various flavors of 802.11 have gained ground in
acceptance, developers have not abandoned Bluetooth technology.
Respondents to the study say that they were either working with Bluetooth
(14.2%), evaluating Bluetooth (22.5%), or will evaluate Bluetooth's
potential for their upcoming projects (32.3%). This compares favorably to
the number of developers working with 802.11 (18.8%), evaluating 802.11
(14.6%), or planning to look at 802.11 in the future (26.4%)."

This IS NOT a either/or debate! 802.11 and BT both have a place - they target DIFFERENT applications. Why does there have to be ONE winner? And BT is PERFECT for handheld devices. 802.11 is PERFECT for larger devices that have a nice big battery, or A/C power permanently supplied. And as I said before 802.11 is for connecting to NETWORKS, BT is for EVERYTHING ELSE! :-)

Can't we all just get along...?

RE: Bluetooth is to 802.11b Like Oranges are to Bicycles.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 10:10:35 PM #
tell me do you plan to install dual Wi-FI and bluetooth at home and office? It's funnny how industry talk without thinking if customer can/want to afford it. I didn't know Bush's tax cut is so big that people can throw around money to build extra $600-700 home networking and peripherals.

Bluetooth still cool

NRowe @ 8/21/2001 12:49:29 PM #
Yesterday at a Palm Programming User Group meeting we got to play with a couple of Bluetooth enabled Palms. Lots of fun. The only application we could really use was a whiteboard tool, but several of us played tic-tac-toe at various distances up to 6 meters. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to go the full distance before the devices were whisked up and taken away. Still it was a good demonstration of what the future holds.

RE: Bluetooth still cool
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 6:54:14 PM #
I've had a set of the Bluetooth Palm V cases for about 6 months now - very neat. I've also used one of the BT SD cards - very, very neat! I couldn't believe how small it was. I got it happily talking to the Palm V cases and to various BT enabled cell phones.

The BIGGEST advantage of BT over 802.11 is the power consumption. How big are those sleds etc for Visor and Palm? They chew through the batteries like there is no tomorrow. Whereas the BT gear requires nowhere near as much juice! Role on BT, and 802.11 - they are both here to stay because they target different applications! How many vendors are building 802.11 into cell phones, head-sets, printers etc...? None.

RE: Bluetooth still cool
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 12:40:37 AM #
There is almost no bluetooth device can be bought in US right now, while 802.11 products can be found across the fruit isle in 24hrs Walmart super center (almost literary)

If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 1:32:57 PM #
the competitor to Notebook!

Eveyone knows that is not true, they have different fields to fit in, same thing with Bluetooth vs. Wireless LAN, one is for simple and convenient cable replacement (not for higher speed transmission), and the other one is for networking purpose!

You will never want to bring Notebook with you just for checking the address, telephone, calendar, email (if wireless is available). You do those with your PDA. Same thing with Bluetooth, you can (wirelessly) beam (borrowed from the old world of irDA) memo, business card, apps.... to others PDAs, and do a hotsync to your computer.... and many other small but routine tasks without using the cradle or needing to aim the irDA port very accurate.

BTW, IEEE802.11b can do the same things, but it's like carrying 10 people to go from LAX to John Wayne airport using a 747, which is definitely not efficient. Particular, you need a big battery pack for the small things.

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 2:01:22 PM #
Try hot syncing with Bluetooh, you be late catching your plane at LAX. Under ideal situation, Wi-Fi is 10 times faster than bluetooth max speed.

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is..
Davy @ 8/21/2001 3:05:41 PM #
Bluetooth's maximum speed is plenty fast for a palm. Faster than the current kind of Hotsyncing, USB. Sure, WiFi's faster, but when it's maximum output per second is more memory than most normal palm's have, what's the point?

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 3:11:58 PM #
the point is, if It would work better in my laptop at home and in the office. SInce I already have one standart at home and office, why invest in different standart? It's a hassle don't you think? do you plan to instal both bluetooth and Wi-Fi access point in your home desktop? (I thougths so)

It's the good ol' networking effect at work.

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 5:48:12 PM #
Then the point is that since ethernet is standard in each office, then why every laptop still has USB?

Different device is aiming at some specific job, like carry 10 people with Boeing 747 from one spot to another one which is 50 miles away is doable, but inefficient!

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 8:45:07 PM #
that would be great if the constrast is as wide as you said, but it isn't. Bluetooth peer to peer networking ability is exactly what ad hoc wi-fi networking does.

Unless Bluetooth is embedded in printer and toaster and serve as IRda replacement as promise, than 802.11b and bluetooth for all practical purposes are exactly same products competing for the same personal networking niche. Ie. in most instance they offer same features at the same price range, and both scheme use same frequency that might interfere with each other.

what's so cool about bluetooth that customer can immediately feel? is it cheap? is it widely available? does it offer killer app products? yadda yadda yadda...

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 1:25:59 AM #
a USB cable cost $1.50

a pair of Blutooth peripherals as an upgrade to existing hardware cost $3-400.

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is..
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 4:53:32 AM #
What's cool about Bluetooth? Thats easy:
*Bluetooth Phones (Ericsson, Nokia, etc.)
*Bluetooth Camera's (Sony)
*Bluetooth Printers
*Bluetooth PDA's

Bluetooth is lower Power !! Get it? It means that you can put it in small devices. Why do you think there are no Wi-Fi phones? Becaue Wi-Fi would kill a phone battey in a few minutes. Even the Wi-Fi springboard requires it's own battery. this drives cost throug the roof. And to all the people who keep saying that 802.11 power requirements will come down, take a radio design class. DSS will always have a higher power overhead than a channel hopper.

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 10:10:46 AM #
ehhrrr....where is the device? you know the thing that you can make a phone call and use your credit card to get it on mailbox?

or is this one of those futuristic, will be marketed north of south see country, and costing a gazzllion exotic device?

printer? camera? where? they are all prototype or press release announcement. Bluetooth doesn't even have an access point ready for a desktop yet.

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 4:05:45 PM #
>> a USB cable cost $1.50. a pair of Blutooth peripherals as an upgrade to existing hardware cost $3-400

Yeah right! A cellular phone cost couple of hundred dollars, a cordless phone cost also around $60-$150 and a landline phone cost $20. Then why everybody want to get a cellular phone and/or cordless phone?

ps. The free cellular phone isn't really free, it is just that the service provider absorb the cost of the cellular phone and put the cost on each bill they send you!

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 8:19:04 PM #
I can get a paper notepad for $0.20 - but I'm more than happy to pay a little more for a Palm which gives extra functionality...

RE: If Bluetooth is competitor of IEEE802.11b, then PDA is...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 10:01:40 PM #
so do you plan to pay $3-400 dolar to have the ability sync your Palm with your telephone?

if not than I make my point. (that the price does not justify the minor convinient of replacing cheap $30 cable)

like I said before the entire point of wireless is to connect to existing network and peripherals within it, NOT cable replacement between a phone and a Palm or two palms. Nobody except for the filthy rich would want to replace $30 cable with $400 dolar bluetooth nodes.

Palm should hedge bet.

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 1:56:04 PM #
802.11b is here NOW, cheap, and robust. While bluetooth is still somewhat iffy. (This not to mention Intel is jumping into the bandwagon abandoning home RF)

why would anybody want to pay $50 more for a nowhere to be found cable replacement scheme when a cheaper alternative that work can be had in 24hrs Walmart isle?

As of now bluetooth advantage is merely low power requirement.

RE: Palm should hedge bet.
Amorya @ 8/21/2001 4:01:15 PM #
That's not the only advantage.

I have a home network based on 802.11, and I'm connected to the internet using it now, via my laptop. Yet I'm going to get a bluetooth card for my palm, not an 802.11 card.

Bluetooth is like wireless USB, 802.11 is wireless ethernet. Bluetooth can automatically make and break connections, and will be great for things like phone headsets, etc. I will also get a bluetooth card for my Nokia 6210.

I won't be getting bluetooth for my laptop. I rarely need to use wireless transfer with it in places other than my home, where it can be set up beforehand, and the increased speed and range is important. The speed won't matter to a PDA, and I'm much more likely to want to make on-the-fly connections. That's why bluetooth is better.


RE: Palm should hedge bet.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 5:51:09 PM #
IEEE 802.11b is cheaper than Bluetooth at this moment, that is true, however, IEEE802.11b used to be very expensive (802.11b has been around for around 10 years or longer and the high speed version, the 11Mbps one has also been around for some time). I remember long time ago, one 802.11b basestation cost like couple of thousand dollars. But Bluetooth is a very new thing and at the beginning everything will be expensive, but when time goes by, it should drop significantly.

Yes, now 802.11b is cheaper (or in the similar price range), however, you need to carry a big battery pack!!

RE: Palm should hedge bet.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 8:40:10 PM #
802.11b was ractify in 1997. granted it was last millenium, but not exactly a decade ago.

Bluetooth and 802.11 occupy the same operating frequency. Can you say interferance? yeah....really.

RE: Palm should hedge bet.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2001 8:58:30 PM #
a company in texas already offering a dual WLAN/GSM chip for a cell phone.

RE: Palm should hedge bet.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 1:01:28 AM #
lemme get this straight, people are planning to purchase Nokia bluetooth module at approx. $200 a piece plus another $200 bluetooth SD card just so they can both talk wirelessly at 6-10 meter as acable replacement scheme ?

That's $400 bucks!!!!!!

may I suggest geting a 10 meter sync cable, for $30 and you have the same effect. (not to mention it also double as disposable jumping rope, while the other option is lousy $400 paper weight when not in use)


where is the economical logic here?

cable is CHEAP and disposable. The only reason one want to get wireless is to connect to "network". (printer/desktop included within)

RE: Palm should hedge bet.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 1:14:00 AM #
would you rather carry a battery pack, or rebuilt your entire office network to handle additional bluetooth protocol?

unless building the whole bluetooth shebang is dirt cheap, I don't think people will go running adopting bluetooth and putting it on everything just so several devices can talk to each other just to replace cable.

people better wake up, the whole idea of replacing "cable" with super expensive peripheral IS NOT an appealing to customer.

even the idea of two palm devices talking to each other via bluetooth is also stupid. (everybody has IRda built in, why carry around $200 bucks SD card that your partner might or might not have it? Now simplicity it is NOT)

RE: Palm should hedge bet.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 3:07:31 PM #
>> 802.11b was ractify in 1997. granted it was last millenium, but not exactly a decade ago.

802.11b official standard was fixed in 1997, but the device has been around for a long time. Each company has their own WLAN tecnology but the technology has been developed for a long time. I remember I saw a wireless LAN device ten years ago and some radio components were made by TriQuint!

The point is that the official standard was set five years ago, but similar device has been long existing even before the standard was set. Also you have to remember that who set the official standard? Those companies which already had their own device running, they were just fighting to make their own implementation to be the standard.

But Bluetooth is different story, there was no such device before the standard was set (maybe some prototype by Ericcson)!

RE: Palm should hedge bet.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 9:07:59 PM #
So what do you trying to say? that bluetooth will be cheaper than Wi-Fi within next year and buyer will find it usefull and convinient? (ie. it is actually usefull to schlep around a bluetooth card)

and no, we don't want no statistic, how about pointing out an insanely cool bluetooth product that one can buy for Christmas present?


AriB @ 8/22/2001 2:57:10 AM #
an SD bluetooth card isn't very compelling though it makes a nice proof of concept. In order to make bluetooth connectivity a reality, Palm must integrate it into every future Palm. device (I would also be very happy if wireless always on capability is the minimum for every future Palm just like SD expansion now is). Now Palm is looking into this and I don't know of anyone trying to integrate wi-fi into PDA's or phones so maybe the analysts are completely wrong (again?)

RE: bluetooth
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 3:35:21 AM #
man oh man...people are in such a denial.

News flash: we are in the very beginning of major standart war here. It's bluetooth VS. 802.11b/a. One of this standart will be Betamaxed out.

and no, there is no such thing as "cable replacement" that's about as stupid as saying car is only for weekend ride along for the rich.

THIS is a standart battle on WAN. Whoever wins will get the gold bucket.

It would be interesting to know what was Palm's reasoning in adopting Bluetooth. If Motorola role in Bluetooth has anything to do with it.

But from my perspective, I am betting my money on anarchic grass root movement to put as many Wi-Fi access point on the planet as possible to bring wireless internet to the mass.

Highly integrated WLAN chip .11a/b is going to be introduced within a year.

WLan integrated to 3G chip

conference article on a company that does corss system wireless integration

RE: bluetooth
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 4:01:08 AM #
As commented above..... you can't compare the two !!
They are not targeting the same users/functionality.

RE: bluetooth
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 10:16:27 AM #
ehrrr...they are not targeted to the same customer and functionality?

you don't really believe the whole market gag on "cable replacement" scheme for your cellphone-PDA do you?

do you really going to buy a bluetooth printer, bluetooth video camera just so your Palm can have somebody to talk bluetooth with?

or will you buy bluetooth so you can use your palm to sync with desktop/network and all existing equipments quickly?

who is this mysterious customer bluetooth is targetting if not the same techy who already have 802.11b implemented at home and in office?

are you proposing these people will suddenly fall in love with bluetooth and spending at least $300 for a pair of bluetooth nodes?

where is the logic?

and in case you haven't read wireless news lately, bluetooth companies will market and create networking/public access nodes just like wi-fi.

RE: bluetooth
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2001 7:38:23 PM #
I love reading comments from people who's only purpose is to antagonize others... why must everything be a fight? Why must there be a winner? They are different you dolt - wake and and read the specs - they do different things. Has one desktop OS betamaxed the rest? No. So why should it be the same when talking about two different technologies. Half-baked comment such as yours only highlight just how little you know about what you pretend to know... :-)

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