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Bluetooth blues

Bluetooth blues
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First Published: Tue, Aug 02 2011. 11 03 PM IST

Pairs well: A Plantronics BackBeat 903+ stereo Bluetooth headset.
Pairs well: A Plantronics BackBeat 903+ stereo Bluetooth headset.
Updated: Tue, Aug 02 2011. 11 03 PM IST
Let me be frank here. I have never really got the hang of the concept of Bluetooth. For the last 10 years or so, I have had various devices with Bluetooth capabilities: mobile phones, MP3 players, mice, keyboards and earpieces. But rarely has any one of them really lived up to the wonderful potential of Bluetooth that was promised to me in my youth.
Pairs well: A Plantronics BackBeat 903+ stereo Bluetooth headset.
There was a time when every technology or “life in the future” type show on TV had a segment on how Bluetooth would change everything. Soon, some bubbly presenter with overly polished teeth would say, our offices and homes would become wireless. In the near future, we were assured, the mess of cables that is the bane of every household would be replaced by the invisible awesomeness of Bluetooth.
I remember one programme with some clarity. A hyperventilating presenter bounded around a shambolic office disconnecting wires from devices and then reconnecting them via Bluetooth. Keyboards paired to computers. Computers paired to hard drives. Headphones paired to music players.
“Imagine! The wireless office of the future!”
Years later? All I can do is shrug my shoulders and say, “Meh”.
This disillusionment is not for want of trying. I like to think of myself as something of an early adopter when it comes to such wireless technologies. I’ve tried crazy things like using an infrared connection to transfer a mammoth address book from one Nokia phone to another (that took the better part of 2004).
But somehow Bluetooth never did it for me. Partly, this was because the process of pairing devices usually drove me up the wall. Sometimes passwords were involved. Sometimes not. Sometimes a default “0000” would work as a password. Sometimes not.
And when you finally got two devices paired up and running, you had to deal with some form of profile setting or device-driver thingamajig that usually took the whole weekend to sort out. It was excruciating. Not few are the laptops and desktops in my past that have “Mobile Phone Bluetooth Modem” installed 40 or 50 times each, without being used even once.
For a brief few months, I used a Bluetooth keyboard-cum- trackball device from Vu. It was paired with the computer at home (the computer was on a table next to the bed. The idea was to control the laptop from the bed while watching movies, sitcoms, and so on).
And then I lost the little dongle that was used to pair the device using Bluetooth. I never figured out why it didn’t just pair with my computer directly. Without the dongle the device was merely a shiny black paperweight for very large sheets of paper.
Chastened suitably, I avoided all Bluetooth temptations till 2009. When I bought, for the first time, a Bluetooth earpiece. I was travelling on a conference and got fed up of continuously scrambling for my phone through my laptop bag, press releases and directories. I figured a Bluetooth headset would ease the pain. The device, which I bought from a bargain basement store in Zurich, Switzerland, was a Nokia BH-105. A basic, no-frills model.
It worked well enough, except for a breaking-in period when my ear hurt like it was on a slow fire. The tragedy was that I liked listening to music on my iPhone as well. But the Nokia thing wouldn’t, for some reason, stream music. There was a convoluted workaround on the Web. However, I realized, eventually, that my life was too short.
So the BH-105 got banished into my assorted devices drawer as well.
Everything, as far as Bluetooth was concerned, looked lost. Surely I wouldn’t try anything again?
Oh, but I did. And thank God for that. Three weeks ago, after an evening of introspection, I Amazon-ed a Plantronics BackBeat 903+ stereo Bluetooth headset.
And, so far, I love it in a not so platonic way. I’ve paired it with everything—laptop, desktop, iPhone and iPod touch. And it pairs like a dream. The earpiece sits nicely, and even on a fairly noisy suburban train, it valiantly tries to pump music. The device is not the prettiest on the market. But it has been designed with some thought. The mic is built into one of the earpieces and performs well when making calls (I’ve also used it to record audio on my desktop. Not bad at all).
It produces a hardy connection as well, the signal working across rooms.
But wait. This is a Bluetooth device. It might embarrass me yet. The BackBeat might BiteBack. Fingers crossed.
Write to Sidin at businessoflife@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Aug 02 2011. 11 03 PM IST