If you are unfamiliar with the term Personal Area Network, it simply refers to your computer and the devices it is connected to. Normally, this could include devices like a PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, and maybe a scanner and a printer if you are not connected to a larger network. Your keyboard and your mouse are also on your PAN. Basically, it is everything in and around your desk that you connect to your computer.
Add to this the fact that you may need to add a USB hub into the equation and you are looking at a pretty messy workspace. In fact, it will probably look like a spaghetti junction of wires and cables by the time you get everything connected.
So, if it is all getting too much for you it may be time to think about setting up a Bluetooth Personal Area Network. For a little extra you can buy the equipment you need so that your workspace is completely free of wires and your peripherals connect easily with your computer and with each other without the need to plug anything in.
If you are setting up a Personal Area Network from scratch you may may want to set up a fully Bluetooth-enabled workspace. If you already have a workspace, you probably just want to introduce Bluetooth devices as and when they are needed.
Either way, the first thing you need is a computer with Bluetooth capabilities. By now, most new computers will come with built in Bluetooth so make sure of this if you are buying new. If you have an older computer you may have to invest in a Bluetooth dongle. However, these are available for as little as $20 so it doesn’t cost that much to get started.
Now that you have a Bluetooth-enabled computer, you can start to think about about what Bluetooth peripherals you will want to use on your Personal Area Network.
Keyboard and mouse
The two essentials of any Personal Area Network. Without these you won’t be getting too much done. These will be permanent fixtures on your desk so Bluetooth options mainly offer the advantage of reducing clutter by cutting out cables. Bluetooth keyboards start around the $50 mark while a Bluetooth mouse will cost $30 and up.
If you spend a lot of time on the road these are an excellent option as they can allow you to work quickly and easily on your PDA. You can also get Bluetooth folding keyboards to take with you on the road.
Cell phones and PDAs
For many people, this is where a Bluetooth Personal Area Network will really come into its own. If you work out of the office a lot you will gather contacts, arrange meetings and gather other data on the go. If your network is Bluetooth enabled, you can synch your cell phone or PDA with your computer so that you can update your calendar and address book at the touch of a button, or even automatically. These are just some basic capabilities. New technologies such as the iPhone are taking this to a much higher level.
A Bluetooth headset is almost an essential these days, especially if you spend a lot of time in the car. Simply hook it up to your cell phone to keep your hands free. This is also handy if you use VoIP at the office or at home as you can take and make calls and still wander around the room freely. Good Bluetooth headsets are available for about $50.
There are any number of other gadgets and peripherals you can add to your Bluetooth network. You may want to check out a Bluetooth MP3 player or camera. Although bear in mind that transfer speeds remain limited so you could be waiting a long time for high res photos to transfer from one device to another. However, this is improving.
There are also plenty of weird and wonderful Bluetooth peripherals for you gadget fans. For example, you can get a Bluetooth watch that tells you about incoming calls on your mobile phone when it’s out of reach. Hardly essential, but kind of cool all the same.
So, whether you want to boost your productivity and improve your working environment, or you just want to play with some fun gadgets, Bluetooth is the way to go.