While everyone is talking about wireless connections such as GPRS, CDMA or wi-fi these days, wired connections still have their place. We still need modems to connect non-wireless laptops and dekstops to private networks where RAS style dial-in servers are used, to dial into ISPs, to connect to old style BBS (yes, apparently there are still some around) and other sorts of connections.
Imagine you're travelling through an area where there is no mobile network coverage or the hotel room has no wi-fi access points. You can still count on the landline to access an ISP and from there VPN into work. Or dial directly to a toll-free number provided by your internal IT organisation.
This explains why we still need a modem - but a Bluetooth modem? Yes, and here's why it's a great idea. Imagine yourself in a hotel room, free to use your laptop anywhere within your room whilst connected to a phone line. Or having a home office and being able to connect via the landline without having an extension cord trailing to where your computer is.
Zoom Telephonics has released a series of Bluetooth products including adapters (USB and PC Card) and a 56k Bluetooth fax modem. The company has sent us the Bluetooth Modem 4300 for review. Why am I so enthusiastic about this product? Because it worked straight out of the box in less then three minutes and I even used it in real life situations .
As part of my work I have to be on call on a regular basis. The SLA requirements are very strict, and I have to be able to connect to our network within five minutes to begin any required work. It just happened that my laptop's built-in modem stopped working this week. Although I could have used the GPRS Connect Card to work using a mobile network, I decided to use the Zoom Bluetooth modem instead. The fact that local landline calls are free in New Zealand was a factor too.
In less than three minutes I had the modem connected to our landline and from the home office I was able to pair and dial up to our network. The modem is a Class 1 device, which means a 100 meter range when used with another Class 1 device. In my case the laptop is equipped with a Bluetake BT007, another Class 1 device.
The modem is really small with a retractable antenna, compact enough to fit inside a pocket in your laptop case. It comes with a AC power adapter that will fit into the other pocket of your laptop case.
The modem comes with a standard DB9 serial connector in the back. By switching a key on the back, the owner can choose to use the device in wireless mode (via Bluetooth) or as a wired modem (via serial cable).
This device will work with Windows and PDAs (Palm and Windows Mobile Pocket PC) via Bluetooth, but the package says it does not support Mac OS X computers.
Bluetooth services found when using an iPAQ H4155
Connecting to a RAS server
The modem supports three Bluetooth profiles: dial up network, serial and fax modem. The CD comes with appropriate drivers, manual in Adobe Acrobat format (English, Spanish and Portuguese versions), plus a couple of software utilities such as Adsubtract and Communicate Lite.
Device after pairing
Bluetooth services found
Connecting to a RAS server
After using this modem for a week with the freedom of being connected anywhere in the house, I can certainly recommend it. It not only has benefits for travellers with laptops or PDAs, but is a great modem for small office and home office users too .