I’ve had it. I’m actually surprising myself with this, as I have always had high hopes for the technology. Now, after a lot of experience with different products, I must say it is a failure.
The idea of bluetooth was that we’d get rid of cables or the need to adjust IR ports once and for all. The reality is different, unfortunately.
Let me show you some of the problems:
- Pairing. Black magic. Let’s say you have a headset that you want to use with your mobile phone and two computers (actually this is my current setting on my desk). Which device will the headset pair to when you switch it on? Most bluetooth devices deon’t have displays, so you never know. Pairing is supposed to happen automagically, which it sometimes does, sometimes not. Even if you have granted a paired device permission to pair without a PIN, it will sometimes ask for one.
- Serial port emulation. This is probably the worst of bluetooth. I have yet to see an application that uses bluetooth natively; most program for serial ports and expect you to activate a virtual bluetooth serial port (after you paired, that is). Then you have to look up the number of the virtual COM port and make it known to your application. Of course, the port may change with every pairing, so you always have to tell the application. The virtual ports often use high port numbers, and there are still apps limiting COM port choice to “1-3”. When Windows looks for a phone on a COM port and you have not yet activated the port, timeouts sometimes take minutes to occur and hang your whole system, curable only by a reboot.
- Nokia Bluetooth. This is pathetic. It started with the 6310i that would only support Nokia’s own bluetooth card. Only the latest phone firmware creates a partial compatibility to other adaptors. Then there’s Nokia’s funny idea of pairing: Nokia’s BT implementation insists on initiating the connection from the device, ignorant of a connection initiated from the PC, which results in an error on the PC in the best case. Even if the devices are connected, the BT symbol on the PC does not always reflect that.
- Bluetooth profiles. Some bright mind came up with the idea of creating different bluetooth capabilities, for example a “headset” and a “car kit” profile. Some devices don’t support both, so you have headsets that only work with Nokia, and others that only work with Ericsson phones. I had to update the bluetooth firmware in my USB dongle yesterday to make it work with a headset.
- Widcomm drivers. Kudos to them for providing something at all, but this is just ridiculous. The software has a completely incomprehensible user interface and makes you hunt for your device or profile. You have to click on a green flashing tray icon to make the PIN window appear when pairing.
There’s more to say still, but let that be enough. I was a big fan of bluetooth, but now I just don’t care. It simply creates more problems than it solves for me, so I’ll be ignoring it (apart from the bluetooth gaming capability of my N-Gage, which mostly works well enough).
This definitely looks like something designed by a committee. If you’re interested in more real world problems still (so no, I’m not the only one…) have a look at “Bluetooth Real World“.