Bluetooth 2.0 is for iPods

Bluetooth logo I'm going to start a rumor, right here and now. There has been much speculation in the past about Bluetooth (or some other wireless technology) in the iPod. So far, we haven't seen anything. I think that Bluetooth 2.0 is going to change that.

In case you missed it, Apple just updated the PowerBook line and added Bluetooth 2.0. They even updated their Bluetooth page to reflect the introduction of 2.0. Apple is the first to have a Bluetooth 2.0 product that I'm aware of and that's a big deal.

One of the biggest grips folks have had (I'm not one of them - another post) with Bluetooth has been the speed. Bluetooth up to version 1.2 had a 1 Mbps theoretical, and roughly 723 kbps actual, possible, transfer speed. Whether or not you got near that number depended on lots of things, but we'll save that for another day. With 2.0, the spec has been upped to 3 Mbps. That's triple the speed for those still reaching for their calculators. Three times as much isn't spectacular, but it will help.

The files are huge dummy!
Yes, I realize that there still isn't a great amount of bandwidth when you are comparing against FireWire, but I did some quick real world testing. I used a bare bones 12" iBook which is the cheapest one you can buy right now, plus Bluetooth and WiFi. On the other end, I used a 2 year old Dell something-or-other running Microsoft's Bluetooth stack in XP SP2. The iBook was using built-in Bluetooth. The Dell used the Microsoft dongle that comes with their Wireless Desktop for Bluetooth.

I picked a song, and I even picked one you've probably heard of, U2's "Beautiful Day". This track was purchased from the iTMS and weighed in at 3.92 MB. I ran some transfers of that file both from the iBook to the Dell and vice versa. On average, I got transfer rates of about 43.5 KBps for transfer times of about a minute and a half. That isn't all that great, especially if you are going to transfer more than a few songs, but once we cut that in a third, we start to approach something usable.

Loading up a new album every so often would now be tolerable over Bluetooth. Even if you stick to wires for the music files, certainly you'd love Bluetooth for iSyncing your Address Book, calendar, and notes files. I know I would. Transferring those items would be, dare I say, fast!

The audio.
You might not know it, but Bluetooth can do more than crappy GSM audio. There are products now emerging that provide stereo audio over Bluetooth. I'm looking forward to ditching one more cable, especially that one to my headphones that knocks over my Mountain Dew all the time.

Finally, Apple is clearly leading the way with Bluetooth on the desktop. Their stack implementation is far better than any I have used, and if you know me, you know that means something. The fact that they already have a strong base in Bluetooth and now Bluetooth 2.0 means that a wireless iPod can't be all that far off. Even they think they are great. Check out these quotes from their Bluetooth page.

As the first company to certify a system supporting Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (enhanced data rate) specification with the Bluetooth Qualification Board, Apple continues to popularize Bluetooth technology.

Apple’s Bluetooth implementation is the latest in a series of bold strategic moves that have caused tectonic shifts in the computer industry — and greatly benefited customers.

The iPod has to evolve somehow. You can only go so long putting in bigger hard drives. Hopefully wireless connectivity via Bluetooth 2.0 will be part of the next generation. I can't wait.

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