Bluetooth Blues

I'm a big fan of Bluetooth - its great to be able to use my various portable devices (Palm PDA, cell phone, laptop, etc) together without using wires. Dialing my cell phone from my Palm's contact book and talking on a wireless headset (without ever touching the phone) is pretty cool.

Unfortunately, setting it all up can be a bit trying. Its not difficult if you are familiar with computers and networking, but does take some time to tweak everything to get it just right.

This is why I was so surprised when I visited the Apple store last weekend. I was taking a look at some of the new PowerBooks with integrated Bluetooth. I have a Mac at work, and would like to add one at home, but I don't consider myself a full-time Mac user. Anyway, while I don't remember the exact steps, I was able to connect my Bluetooth cell phone to the PowerBook in about 10 seconds. I clicked the Bluetooth "B" logo, clicked "connect", found my cell phone, displayed a passkey to enter on my phone, and then it asked me what I wanted to do with the phone - sync contacts, connect to the Internet, and/or a few other options. No starting up a bunch of programs, no drivers to install, no modes to select. Just connect.

The same process on Windows is different depending on what kind of Bluetooth adapter you use, and relies pretty much exclusively on what third-party drivers and apps come with the adapter. It works, but I was floored by the ease of setup on the PowerBook. Bluetooth will eventually be integrated into Windows, but Apple sure has a great process already for making the best of Bluetooth's capabilities.