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  Belkin Bluetooth USB 7/10. Date Posted 18/01/2003.

Bluetooth has been around for a couple of years. It is essentially a wireless protocol which lets devices like phones and cameras communicate. This USB dongle, gives any PC the capability to communicate with Bluetooth devices. At 721KBps it is not as fast as wireless Ethernet, but the main advantage of Bluetooth is that it requires less power and is cheaper.

Installation of the dongle is quite easy. I used it on Windows XP (but I had to turn off System Restore), and within about 10 minutes I was ready to begin! Firstly I needed to enable Bluetooth on my phone (an Ericsson t39m), and on the Bluetooth dongle's software. The computer found my phone, and to ensure that the link was secure, I had to type in a passkey on both my phone and on the computer. This is important, especially if you are using Bluetooth in a public place, since the range of Bluetooth is several metres.

The included software let me easily transfer business cards to my phone. In addition it made COM3, a virtual COM port, that let me use my phone like a modem. This also lets other applications use the Bluetooth connection, for example my mobile phone software (so I could edit settings on my phone, the phone book etc.)

Although getting the Bluetooth connection to work was quite easy, trying to get it to work without breakage proved problematic. This was not a problem when I was transferring settings/business cards to and from my phone, because the transfer would resume immediately after breakage. However, it was a problem when I used my phone to dial-up on the internet, since I had to keep reconnecting. I suspect it was my phone's fault (since it was one of the first to have Bluetooth built-in), but I cannot be certain. Certainly I am sure most people who would buy this product probably already own newer phones like the t68 (which can take advantage Bluetooth better).

This product is ideal for people who own several Bluetooth products, but have yet to have taken advantage of this great new technology. Also given that Belkin have very few rivals in the USB Bluetooth market, I am sure that this will become a market leader.