Retrofit Printers for Bluetooth

While Bluetooth has the potential to revolutionize the way handhelds interact with peripherals, the revolution won't start until more peripherals are Bluetooth-ready. Troy Wireless can help people who don't want to buy a whole new printer. Its WindConnect Bluetooth adapter can be attached almost any printer. Together with IS/Complete's BtPrint, users can wirelessly print directly from their handheld to their current printer.

While less expensive than a new printer with Bluetooth built in, this solution isn't cheap. The WindConnect sells from CDW for $160. BtPrint is $25. Also necessary is a Bluetooth adapter for the handheld, like Palm's Bluetooth SD card, which sells for $130.

BtPrint allows users to print from the built-in Palm apps and Word and Excel documents from Documents To Go from DataViz Inc. It includes driver support for printers from most major manufacturers

The TROY WindConnect is a dongle-like device that connects to most popular printers, providing Bluetooth wireless connectivity capabilities within 10 meters (33 feet).

It supports printing from any Palm handheld equipped with a Palm Bluetooth SDIO card, and it also works with Bluetooth enabled laptop computers, mobile phones, and other devices.

About Bluetooth
Bluetooth is a short-range, low-power wireless standard. Its range depends on the devices being connected and the amount of interference in the area but most devices will be limited to 30 feet. It has a maximum speed of 1 Mbps.

I have no way to test if this combination will work with Sony's Bluetooth Memory Stick, though it should. -Ed

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What a wonderful invention!~

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 10:35:50 AM #
Now that is something good to hear!~ Now having computer built-in with bluetooth, an adapter like this would enhance the computing experience. Just make sure that they are as easy to use as infread, that no configuration is necessary would be fine. I wonder what happens when two user wants to print at the same time. How would they manages the cache of the documents/anything that a palm user sends in through bluetooth?!
RE: What a wonderful invention!~
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 10:44:06 AM #
I bet Macs with OSX and the USB bluetooth adapter can already take advantage of this device.

BTW, I am waiting for somebody to make a bluetooth device for palm that does not take over the SD slot. Am I the only one that thinks that using your memory expansion slot for either memory or communications is silly?


RE: What a wonderful invention!~
Xian @ 4/30/2002 11:23:03 AM #
You don't have to wait long. TDK had produced an Bluetooth sled for the Palm m500 series, connecting to the USB/Serial connector. No SD slot needed!

$160!!! cable replacement??

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 10:44:20 AM #
I was with it until the $160 part. Absolutely no way that is a cable replacement. That is even out of the range of early adopter's prices. There are 802.11b wireless printer options for the same price or less. This would barely sell at $100. Should be more like $80 with prices eventually reaching $20-$25.

It is even weak on features. It'd be nice if it had a cable pass-through. Then you could have your printer wired to your network plus allow walk-up Bluetooth access.

RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 11:01:02 AM #
I'm with you. $160 is a joke. But that is the price of new technology. Manufacturers always try to pay for the entire R&D cycle with the revenue from the first production run of a product.
RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
pontif @ 4/30/2002 11:09:10 AM #
I have to say, $160 for the printer adapter, and $100 for the bluetooth card, and $30 for the software (almost $300 total) seems pretty steep, just to use a cool new technology. I can print via IR to my laserjet with only the extra $30 for the printing software that uses the IR port. (Sure you have to have an IR equipped printer, but many already are, especially compared to bluetooth.)

I think I'll wait until bluetooth is included in the handheld and I can buy a BT equipped printer for little more than an non-BT version of the same printer.

RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 11:15:07 AM #
zero sales equals zero revenue.
RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 11:37:39 AM #
"There are 802.11b wireless printer options for the same price or less."

You are ignoring the total cost. The whole Bluetooth set up is about $300 but the Xircom 802.11 adapter for the Palm is $300 all by itself. Then you have to buy the printer adapter and software.

RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 12:37:04 PM #
Manufacturers always try to pay for the entire R&D cycle with the revenue from the first production run of a product.

They must only be planning to sell 9 of them.

RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
popko @ 4/30/2002 12:41:39 PM #
"Manufacturers always try to pay for the entire R&D cycle with the revenue from the first production run of a product.

They must only be planning to sell 9 of them."

Doesn't matter how many they will sell. As long as it stays that expensive, I'm looking elsewhere.

RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
Bartman007 @ 4/30/2002 12:55:27 PM #
I also agree that $160 is way too much for me. But I am willing to bet my upgraded Sony Clie N710c that they will see thousands of these, not 9 =)

Just my 2

RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 1:34:12 PM #
I think this product is geared more towards Bluetooth enabled PC users vice bluetooth Palm users.

While expensive for a palm (after buying this adaptor and the bluetooth SD card), its not all that expensive for a Mac User - Apple's $50 bluetooth USB adaptor plus this for $160 (is that retail?) Means that for $210 you get a bluetooth printer.

This is actually quite reasonable - especially if you want to keep your printer (for instance if its a lazer jet or other expensive printer). It may not make as much sense if you just want to enable your $150 ink jet. Although, are there any bluetooth printers available yet? How long do you think it will take to see a $150 bluetooth enabled ink jet? For comparison, how many IR equipped ink jets are there vs. IR equipped lazer printers?

Of course, a mac user could also 802.11b enable the printer but I'm not sure how much that would cost.

RE: $160!!! cable replacement??
Altema @ 4/30/2002 2:34:24 PM #
I could see this working well in a cubicle office with desktops, where 10 or so people could share their old printer without adding another network connection. It would also work well if your staff had handhelds and were required to print schedules or other logs at the end of the day. Price is ok for businesses, but not for individuals at home.

For myself, I use PrintBoy Deluxe, a $19 serial cable, a $5 null modem adapter, and a $3 gender bender (male to male) to plug into the serial port of our HP LaserJet printers. The serial port on these is never used, as they are always hooked up via ethernet, or a printserver on the parallel. PrintBoy configuration for this setup is "HP LaserJet & Compatibles" driver, Serial port, 9600 comm speed, hardware flow control.

At one point I was experimenting, and got PrintBoy to print to an ethernet connected printer on the same network as my laptop using the laptop as the IR receiver for the Palm. I'll have to reserve an evening to recreate that scenario, as I have since diabled the laptop IR due to hardware resource limits on the laptop itself.

Cable and/or bluetooth?

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 4:26:45 PM #
Does the Bluetooth adapter replace the cable, or can you print both from your palm and your PC without having to detach the cable and install the Bluetooth? If the latter is the case I see a future for this item, if not it's a deadborn baby.
RE: Cable and/or bluetooth?
msmasitti @ 4/30/2002 4:56:47 PM #
If you use this adapter, you'll have to have a Bluetooth thing on your PC as well, which is $50. If your printer has both USB and parallel, I am not sure...

CLIE Moderator
RE: Cable and/or bluetooth?
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 5:03:15 PM #
From what I can tell, it doesn't even have a passthrough. Ridiculous for the price they are charging.
RE: Cable and/or bluetooth?
Altema @ 5/3/2002 1:05:22 PM #
If your printer only has a parallel port, then you must print using bluetooth, or pull the BT adapter off to plug the cable back in.

If your printer has multiple ports (Parallel + USB, or parallel + serial, etc.) then it may have auto sensing, which means it will accept the data on whatever connection it comes in on. HP LaserJets are good at this. We have some here at work with parallel, serial, and ethernet, and you can use any of them at any time.

Ape Face connectors for the Atari 800

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 4:58:13 PM #
This thing reminds me of what Ape Face tried to do by retrofitting old daisy wheel printers to be compatible with IBM PC/ATs. The comment about $160 for a cable replacement is dead on. For that amount, just invest in a new blue tooth printer and be done with it


I.M. Anonymous @ 4/30/2002 7:39:46 PM #
Speaking from a business point of view (before anyone bashes, I'm just making point and asking what I believe to be an honest question… Bluetooth is a bit new to me)…

I'm having a tough time with the concept... why would you need to Bluetooth a printer, unless it came with it built-in? Would it not be easier to develop a BT access point (something like a 802.11b AP) that would allow users to roam in an office area? The printers would be connected to the network via “hard” cable. Like 802.11b, you could place the BT access points where needed and allow users to roam and attach to the resources needed (printers, Internet access, etc.).

I work in the network field and I am working on an 802.11b deploy to allow access to company resources. This seems a bit pricey… just to hookup one printer.

I do, however understand that this could be a cool option for most devices, perhaps even printers, but only if the cost impact to the device is minimal. Think of USB support… did it cost $130 to add it to the printer? No. BT would be a nice alternate built-in “port” as long as it is cheap.

RE: Hmm...
big_raji @ 4/30/2002 11:42:51 PM #
"I do, however understand that this could be a cool option for most devices, perhaps even printers, but only if the cost impact to the device is minimal. Think of USB support… did it cost $130 to add it to the printer? No. BT would be a nice alternate built-in “port” as long as it is cheap."

Actually, the first USB-Parallel adapter I saw was CDN$149.99, and you had to get an extra printer cable for at least CDN$10... That's about US$110 or so for USB support. That was quite awhile ago, but was the very first product. Most people also had to get a PCI USB Card for about CAN$129 as well.

Of course, nobody would pay that today, but people paid it back then.

Is Bluetooth going to be as popular as USB? Not unless it's backed by a single huge company first. Intel supported USB, and insisted on its integration in motherboards. Maybe if HP insists on Bluetooth on all future printers (except maybe the sub-$50 ones) we could see some rise in popularity.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

new technology

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/1/2002 12:04:11 AM #
This is the beginning of bluetooth hardware becoming available. Would you pay 250 bucks for a 2x cdrom drive? Not today, but if you wanted one 8 years ago, you would have. If you don't need this adapter today , then don't buy it. Some people WILL buy it, put it to good use, and therefore it will be WORTH IT to them (not you!).

A band-aid

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/1/2002 5:30:36 AM #
If you have an extra printer laying around that has a parallel interface, this could be useful. But a wireless BT hub with USB ports would be more effective and the parts cost would be about the same.

For a printer with integrated Bt...

Palm_Otaku @ 5/1/2002 4:54:19 PM #
...check out the HP 995c AFAIK the first printer with integrated Bluetooth (also has Ir and USB).

It comes with PalmOS drivers too (BtPrint from ISComplete).

SRP: US$400

RE: For a printer with integrated Bt...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/1/2002 7:16:08 PM #
I owned a HP 995c for almost 4 months. A very slick nice looking printer. In the beginning, I am using 3Com Bluetooth card as the connecting solution from PC to printer. Recently Sony's Bluetooth memory stick made available for my Clie. I have chance to make my HP 995c print from one more source. I am very satisfy with the conveniences that IR or USB can not provide. I don't have to be in IR sight or with in the distance of USB cable connection.

Surprisingly the BtPrint from IS Complete, came with the printer, works without any hitch. (months ahead of Sony's MS-BT ???)



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