TECHXNY - Bluetooth makes headway in consumer PCs

Bluetooth will finally make its way into consumer PCs this fall, thanks in large part to Belkin Components and Hewlett-Packard. Both companies are showing off printers, hubs, PC Cards, and parallel port adapters using the wireless technology here at PC Expo/TECHXNY last week.

Bluetooth technology connects multiple devices wirelessly and, ideally, with little effort. The short-range radio technology is designed to link PCs, printers, laptops, and handheld computers for Internet sharing and file swapping--no wires required.

Hewlett-Packard will get you started linking devices with a $US150 Bluetooth Wireless PC Card that goes on sale in July and is made in partnership with 3Com.

The PCIMCIA card will be ideal to link handheld and notebook PCs wirelessly to share a printer or an Internet connection.

HP also has put Bluetooth inside its HP DeskJet 995c, to be available in October. The $US399 DeskJet is HP's first Bluetooth printer, and it also supports USB and infra-red. The colour mid-range DeskJet prints photo-quality images at resolutions as high as 2400 by 2400 dots per inch.

In September HP will market a Bluetooth printer adapter made by MPI Tech. The $US125 adapter can Bluetooth-enable a standard printer. It fits parallel ports on the back of printers, but won't work with some less expensive or older model printers, say representatives.

Belkin on the bandwagon

Belkin also plans to jump on the Bluetooth bandwagon with the promised release of competing products. Here at TECHXNY/PC Expo it is showing its own $US129 PC Card for notebooks and handheld computers, set to be available this fall.

In the same timeframe, Belkin expects to ship a sleek Bluetooth USB adapter, PDA adapter for Palms, and parallel port adapter for printers. Pricing has not been set for these products, but it is expected to be below $US150.

The products from Belkin and HP won't be the only Bluetooth products to finally hit store shelves. Market research company Frost & Sullivan predicts 4.2 million products using the Bluetooth technology will ship this year, with 1.01 billion Bluetooth products making it to market by 2006.

The wireless technology is expected to generate worldwide revenue of just under $US2 billion in 2001, growing to $US333 billion by 2006, according to a study by the company, which is due out in July.

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Tom Spring

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