Is bluetooth worth the hype?
March 4, 2004 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Is bluetooth worth the hype? I am in the process of changing cell carriers, and I am going from CDMA (Sprint) to GSM (T-Mobile) so I can't keep my phone. [more inside]

I am torn between a Sony phone and a Samsung phone. The Sony has bluetooth, which I would think would be nice to geta wireless headset and sync to my PC, but the samsung is smaller, a little better on the interface and keys, but has no decent syncing capabilities.
posted by benjh to Technology (13 answers total)
I had Bluetooth on my Sony T68i for a year-plus and used it for little other than playing Battleship across a classroom once. Geekier, gadget-integration-happy folks will point out that you can use Bluetooth to port your phone book and calendar from cell phone to computer, but I never got around to it.
posted by werty at 11:54 AM on March 4, 2004

(Which is more to say that Bluetooth strikes me as a not-ready-for-mass-use technology, despite its flexibility; I'm not condemning it, just doubting its current usefulness.)
posted by werty at 11:55 AM on March 4, 2004

I bought a Sony Ericcson t68i for the wireless headset approximately one year ago; I gave it up after 6 months. The headset only picked up about 9 out of 10 outgoing calls, meaning that when driving I had to dial the phone, hold the earpiece up to my ear, and stare at the phone in case the connection to the headset didn't take. Obviously this was MUCH more dangerous when driving then it would've been to just use the phone. Also, when the phone rings my first impulse was always to reach for the PHONE, and then I would have to grope for the headset if I decided to take the call.

Also, I found that the Sony Ericcson sucked. Poor reception, confusing menus, cheap buttons -- and when I switched to the Samsung flip phone I was blissfully happy about it.

As for bluetooth, what made it appealing was the possibility that all my other stuff would eventually be able to wirelessly interact. In fact the bluetooth specification contains a variety of different device profiles and not all products work together. Example: many, many t68i purchasers expected to wirelessly synchronize their phone books with MS outlook. A lot of them (like me) purchased $150 MS bluetooth mouse/keyboard sets, expecting that the MS bluetooth transceiver would also work with their phones. That didn't happen because MS and Sony Ericsson's software manufacturers got into a tussle about the implementation of virtual COM ports, and I couldn't use the MS mouse/keyboard with a different transceiver because, well, because they were from Microsoft.

My advice: bluetooth, unlike wi-fi, is still not the sort of open standard where you can expect everything you buy to work with everything else. Think about the stuff you want to connect and then do your homework to make sure that the specific devices WILL interact in the way you expect them to.
posted by coelecanth at 12:04 PM on March 4, 2004

Ways I've used Bluetooth with my Ericsson T39m:

1. Syncing my contacts (iSync). It's nice not to have to keep three or four separate, incompatible contact lists.

2. Being able to send/receive SMS and dial the phone from a computer or PDA. When you type around 100 words per minute, using a phone's keypad is bloody slow.

3. Salling Clicker (Mac only, admittedly, but wow.)
posted by mcwetboy at 12:04 PM on March 4, 2004

Last thing: if you do get a phone and headset, make sure they can use the same charger. Otherwise you'll be dragging two chargers around everywhere you go; you'll look like Marley's ghost.
posted by coelecanth at 12:05 PM on March 4, 2004 [1 favorite]

If you have a powerbook running bluetooth and OS X, it's a killer app. You never have to input your contacts using the small touchpad again. You can send files to and from the phone, and sailing's clicker is just about the coolest thing on earth, but it's too practical.

Also -- you can have a wireless internet connection (albeit a slow one) anywhere on earth, which is why I moved over to a t68i.

On a PC, I'm not so sure how well it works but on a mac, everything is tightly integrated with all sorts of apps and it's simply magic.
posted by mathowie at 12:19 PM on March 4, 2004

Response by poster: I have a Mac, but no bluetooth adapter. The only thing that really appeals to me for connectivity is the syncing of contacts, and the use of headset.
posted by benjh at 12:29 PM on March 4, 2004

I've got a Sony t610 and a Mac. My phone came with a Jabra headset; I consider this not-yet-ready-for-prime-time, and use the wired headset that Sony threw in instead. Too bad--I really wanted to like the Jabra.

I did get a bluetooth adapter for my slightly dated Mac (they're cheap enough), and it was worth it. I've started using iCal, and iSync will transfer calendar events as well as contacts to the phone. This is nice.

If you get a camphone (which mine is, and I'd say the feature is of dubious value), bluetooth makes it easier to get photos off the phone.

Incredibly geeky but also nice is Salling Clicker (there are several alternatives to this, but I've got Clicker). This allows you to script more complex interactions between the phone and computer. Geeky stuff like using the phone as a remote for iTunes is fun (and the phone shows what's playing, which is nice), but kind of silly. More useful are the "ambient" features that, for example, stop iTunes when the phone rings, or set your chat status to "away" when the phone is out of range.
posted by adamrice at 12:45 PM on March 4, 2004

I came across this article while looking for info on a Sprint compatible bluetooth phone to work with a T|3: The Reports of Bluetooth's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.
posted by piskycritter at 1:26 PM on March 4, 2004

I've never once used the bluetooth features on my T616, in the six or so months I've had it, but that might very well be because I have no other devices which support it nor do I know anyone with a BT device I might wish to connec to. Just about everything people seem to use bluetooth for, with the exception of headset connectivity, I do with the infrared port. My PDA is older than Jesus, and doesn't support it. Nor do any of my laptops which are of slightly less paleolithic vintage.

I've taken a certain interest in wireless headsets, but they are all so utterly hideous-looking that I can't imagine wearing one. Maybe when the designs become a little less unwieldy and garish.

The technology seems to have matured to the point where it might be useful, but there just aren't that many interesting things to connect to yet.
posted by majick at 1:48 PM on March 4, 2004

I have the sprint t608. It's a bit of Sony/Ericcson problem - Sony quit halfway. There are about 10k of them in the USA.

Now, as to bluetooth. I've never ever typed one number into the phone. I surf the web on it.

I just bought a SE headset. The jabra headset had problems with this phone, but the sony one should be fine.

The voice recognition is amazing. I have voice dials for about half my names. I don't have to do anything. Hit a button on the BT headset...say the name, say mobile and it calls them.

Did I mention that my phone is ten feet away still in my jacket pocket?
posted by filmgeek at 5:49 PM on March 4, 2004

Don't give up on bluetooth headsets yet, coelecanth. As an early adopter (with an oxymoronic screen name), you should be prepared for not ready for primetimitude.

More importantly, the next generation of bluetooth headsets is just now hitting the market. 5-8hour talktime, profiles that let you control phone functions from the headset and greater comfort, I think bluetooth (headsets is just coming out of puberty.

The new Jabra and Motorola headsets are quite good. See here
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:36 AM on March 5, 2004

Not to be too chatty here, but when I bought my notebook last autumn I did have them install a bluetooth card. Because I'm an optimist.
posted by coelecanth at 9:56 AM on March 5, 2004

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