10 great Bluetooth gadgets

Go ahead, cut the cord. These cool and useful Bluetooth devices help you phone, print, present and more -- all without wires.

The Logitech diNovo Mini is a great go-anywhere keyboard, but where it really shines is in the living room, controlling your Media Center PC.

The Logitech diNovo Mini is a great go-anywhere keyboard, but where it really shines is in the living room, controlling your Media Center PC.

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The Logitech diNovo Mini is a great go-anywhere keyboard, but where it really shines is in the living room, controlling your Media Center PC.
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The Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer painlessly (and wirelessly) gets snapshots from your cell phone on to 2-by-3-inch prints with adhesive backing.
  • The Mindstorms NXT kit from Lego lets you create various robots that respond to programs you create and transmit via Bluetooth.
  • BlueAnt's Supertooth 3 hands-free speakerphone, which mounts on a car's sun visor, lets you use voice commands to dial and answer mobile calls.
  • The Aliph New Jawbone is a better class of Bluetooth earphone: stylish and comfortable to wear for hours at a stretch.
  • The Kensington Vo200 Bluetooth Internet Phone saves you money by routing your calls over VoIP. The handset stores and charges right in your notebook's PC Card slot.
  • The Baracoda D-Fly scans bar codes and uploads them to your notebook, handheld or smart phone, where you can comparison-shop for similar products online.
  • Logitech diNovo Mini Bluetooth keyboard
  • Yamaha's NX-B02 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker packs two speakers in a single box and sounds like a much larger speaker system.
  • The Sony Ericsson MBW-150 Classic Edition watch connects to your phone to show you who is calling or that a new text message has arrived.
  • The VP6600 ExpressCard Media Remote from Interlink Electronics is a tiny yet surprisingly powerful remote control for making presentations. It charges and travels in your notebook's ExpressCard slot.

Robot parade: Lego Mindstorms NXT robot kit

If there's one Bluetooth accessory that can show the potential of this wireless technology while providing lots of fun, it's Lego's US$250 Mindstorms NXT. Basically, it's a bunch of motors, gears, cams and electronic parts that can be put together to create various robots that respond to programs you create and transmit via Bluetooth.

At first, it's a bit daunting to face the hundreds of tiny plastic parts to be snapped together. There are also sensors for distance, touch and sound, as well as three motors to breathe life into your robot. The robot's brain is the NXT controller box, which has a 32-bit ARM processor, 512KB of memory, a small screen and a Bluetooth module. Don't believe the promise that it takes 30 minutes to create your first robot; two hours is more like it.

Once it's together, you can wirelessly tell the robot to move, make noises and even pick up a ball with its claw. You program it using software on your Mac or Windows XP computer: Just drag activities into the interface and customize the action. The programs are transmitted to the robot in a few seconds from up to 25 feet away. My robot connected on the first try, and a set of six AA batteries lasted for two hours.

Don't like your creation? Take it apart and start over. The only constraint on the variety of robots that Mindstorms NXT can create is your imagination.

Price check, aisle anywhere: Baracoda D-Fly bar code scanner

Whether you're a salesperson needing to check whether a part is in the warehouse or a shopper looking for a bargain, Baracoda's US$350 D-Fly bar code scanner can help. It weighs only 1.5 ounces, accurately scans bar codes on the first try, and connects with a notebook, handheld or smart phone via Bluetooth.

The D-Fly can't tell you the price of an item. What it does do is retrieve an item's inventory number and paste it into any open application. From there, you can use the data to comparison-shop on the fly.

After I loaded the required software on my notebook, the D-Fly made the Bluetooth connection and was ready for action in a couple of minutes. I turned into a super-shopper when I went to my local Circuit City with D-Fly and my notebook looking for a deal on a wireless router.

I scanned the code with the D-Fly (it beeps to confirm that it got the data), and it was pasted into Google's entry window. The search engine found my router online for $30 less, with no sales tax and free delivery. A bargain, yes, but you'll have to buy a lot of stuff to make up for the scanner's US$350 price tag.

The scanner worked up to 25 feet away from my notebook, and its battery lasted for hundreds of scans over two days.

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Brian Nadel

Computerworld
Topics: bluetooth
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