Toshiba, one of the original backers of Bluetooth technology, last week launched the first Bluetooth PC cards. But Intel, another original supporter, has dropped it in favour of a cheaper alternative.
Bluetooth is a radio-based wireless technology that enables devices such as peripherals, PCs, printers, laptop computers and mobile phones to exchange data over short distances as well as provide connectivity to the internet.
Toshiba's PC card carries a £125 price tag, operates within a radius of 100 metres, and allows up to seven notebook PCs each with cards to be interconnected. It is based on the Bluetooth Specification Version 1.0B and is bundled with the SPANworks software solution.
The company said it now plans to ship a notebook product with integrated Bluetooth technology early next year.
Andy French, notebook marketing manager at Toshiba, said: "We were there at the start. Toshiba was one of the founding members of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. It is appropriate that we are first to go to market with this technology."
Industry analysts predicted a bright future for Bluetooth if it can overcome several hurdles. Commercial availability of the product is already well behind schedule. Toshiba's promise of a notebook in early 2001 shows that not one vendor is likely to meet the December dateline that most had said they were aiming for.
Analysts believed the delays are caused by the technology being more complicated than at first thought. Only certain chips can be used and extra software has to be integrated into each product.
The complications have already become too much for chip giant Intel, which has abandoned plans to use it for its latest range of consumer wireless PC peripherals. The commpany cited cost as the reason.
The Intel Wireless Series, currently available only in the US, includes a game pad, mouse and keyboard. Instead of Bluetooth the devices use a proprietary 900Mhz RF technology to meet user-friendly price points.
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