Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sony VAIO Smart Network : turning on/off Bluetooth radio

To turn on Bluetooth on VAIO Z series (mine a VGN-Z47GD), both the hardware and software wireless switch must be turned on.

The hardware wireless switch, which also works for Wi-Fi, is located on the front side under the keyboard pad. When the switch is on, the LED on its left sports a green light.

opening VAIO Control Center from Windows Vista Start button

VAIO Smart Network link in VAIO Control CenterKnowing this laptop's computer name (Blutooth device-name) and MAC address (Bluetooth Device address) from VAIO Smart Network Switch

Meanwhile, the (software) VAIO wireless switch, which is named VAIO Smart Network, can be accessed from Windows Vista Start button, by scrolling through All Programs list or by typing VAIO on the search box and choose VAIO Control Center. On VAIO Control Center, VAIO Smart Network link is located under Network Connections.

VAIO Smart Network icon on the system trayto show VAIO Smart Network floating window from taskbar icon right-click menu.

The wireless switch also can be opened from taskbar (system tray) by right clicking VAIO Smart Network icon and select Show main window or Show floating window. I like the latter option, it's simple and neat.

turning on Bluetooth through VAIO Smart Network floating switch

VAIO Smart Network floating switch coordinates very well with Windows Vista networking functions. The turning on/off of Wi-Fi/Bluetooth or the plugging/unplugging of Ethernet/telephone jack through VAIO Smart Network floating menu is quickly responded by changes in Network Connections folder and Network and Sharing Center.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bluetooth in iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS

iPhone 3G/3GS comes with built-in Bluetooth radio, that's version 2.0+EDR in iPhone 3G and version 2.1+EDR in iPhone 3GS. Although the radio specification is slightly different, Bluetooth in iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS work in the same way since both use the same iPhone OS.

Bluetooth Photo Share app helps transfer photos from iPhone to iPhone, one at a timeBluetooth in iPhone works somehow in a "protected" mode. One can not freely exchange image/photo files or other objects with other Bluetooth phones or Bluetooth-enabled computers, commonly a fun thing to do with other phones because this iPhone (Apple) implementation of Bluetooth does not support OBEX (object exchange) or OPP (object push profile) and FTP (file transfer profile). Even for sending/receiving photos to/from other iPhone, one needs the help of an external app, such as Bluetooth Photo Share. (Personally, I used this app for transferring some images from an iPhone 3G to an iPhone 3GS and it's quite helpful for bypassing iTunes procedure which would take longer time.) Many consider this as major drawbacks compared with other average Bluetooth cell phones, but I think it was designed to be just like that.

iPhone is pairing with a Bluetooth headset, entering PIN code using iPhone on-screen keypad.    iPhone is pairing with Sony Ericsson Akono Bluetooth headset.

However, it works very well with a third party (mono/stereo) Bluetooth headset even though -in my experience- iPhone needs longer time to discover a Bluetooth headset in its vicinity compared with other Bluetooth smartphones.

playing voice memo on iPhone with Bluetooth headset    making call on iPhone with Bluetooth headset    talking over Bluetooth when receiving a call on iPhone.

Bluetooth headset can be used while placing/receiving phone calls, playing audio/video files (mp3, flv, and other supported formats), recording/playing voice memo, and working with third party audio apps.

iPhone status bar shows Internet Tethering blue strip when activeIt has been said everywhere that iPhone 3G/3GS running iPhone OS 3.0 or later can be used as a Bluetooth modem. Well, actually iPhone works as a PAN NAP (Personal Area Network Network Access Point), therefore it is capable of connecting more than one Bluetooth-enabled computers to Internet simultaneously and enabling file/printer sharing between them. This is an advantage over other smartphones if users know how to use it. Have you ever heard or used this wireless networking access point/router application of iPhone 3G/3GS before?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sony VAIO: can't receive file via Bluetooth?

Top view of Sony VAIO Z series  Sony VAIO Z, unfolded

This week, I got a chance to play around with my nephew's brand new laptop Sony VAIO VGN-Z47GD. It is featured with 6 GB memory, 320 GB hard disk, NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS graphic adapter, Blue-ray Disc, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth Ver 2.1+EDR, Gigabit Ethernet, among other amenities. It's thin, lightweight, cute, and fancy.

I've tested briefly all its networking hardware: connecting its voice/fax modem to a phone line to get a dial-up Internet connection, plugging a 3.5G modem USB dongle to access Internet using WCDMA/HSDPA network, linking its Wi-Fi to my home wireless router, transferring large files to another computer using its Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

The Microsoft Bluetooth stack is pre-installed along with Broadcom's Widcomm stack to run the Alps Bluetooth radio on a Windows Vista Business 64-bit. Both Microsoft and Widcomm Bluetooth software work side-by-side. For basic profiles (object push, serial port, HID, HCRP, DUN, PAN), I use the Windows' built-in Microsoft software. For other profiles such as headset, audio gateway, FTP, and A2DP, I use the Widcomm software which is integrated seamlessly into Windows Vista's Control Panel and Windows Explorer. A connected Bluetooth device has its own control center which looks like Network and Sharing Center.

Windows Vista Bluetooth File Transfer Wizard: Receive a fileI was confused at my first try to send/receive photos to/from a mobile phone and a Blackberry. I was looking at the Bluetooth taskbar icon and right clicking it to find Send a File and Receive a File to no avail. Finally, I sent an image file from the Pictures folder by right clicking the file name and select Send To Bluetooth device. To receive a file, I opened Bluetooth File Transfer Wizard. It is located under Accessories. Well, I needed about half an hour to find this solution. Why Sony hides Send/Receive a File from the taskbar menu remains a question. As indicated in some Internet discussions, it turns out that many VAIO users were stuck with the same problem, that's being unable to send/receive files from/to VAIO at their first Bluetooth try.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Unable to perform Bluetooth operation!

I had been using my old Nokia 6600 phone only for a few SMS and occasional voice calls for two years. I still keep it because of a bunch of family photos, sound recordings, and short video clips stored in the phone memory that couldn't be uploaded to my computer because the phone's Bluetooth (and its infrared) had failed to operate for more than two years. Every time I switched on the Bluetooth, it said "Unable to perform Bluetooth operation!". I had never found a way to recover its Bluetooth capability even after searching for a fix for this error across the Internet.

One day this week, I just threw away the mobile phone into my bed forcefully without any purpose except for being in haste to catch up with my works. Aha.. to my surprise, after that incident the Bluetooth radio on my old Nokia 6600 performs perfectly. Everything is just fine. When once I met another "Unable to perform Bluetooth operation!" message on that GSM phone, I intentionally gave a few bumps to the phone's back with my hand, then it worked again. Gee, what are the rationales behind this seemingly stupid solution? Did the battery, the Bluetooth radio chip, or other component somehow become loosened so it needed to be hit?

A lot of comments on Internet message boards had suggested firmware update, restoring to factory settings, replacing Bluetooth chips, visiting a Nokia Care, and other serious actions as a possible solution for this symptom that had been causing so much headache. Yet, today I found one comment in a Nokia user forum that said knocking the phone by hand as the only fix. I can't agree more with him. Probably, the commentator shares the same experience with me.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bluetooth Experience Icons

Bluetooth Experience Icons were introduced by the Bluetooth SIG to make it easy for anyone shopping for Bluetooth devices to find interoperable products. For example, if he wants a Bluetooth printer that can print photos captured by his digital camera, then he should look around for printer and camera bearing the Headset Icon on their packaging.

The presence of the relevant icons on all Bluetooth products will shorten the process of matching supported Bluetooth profiles between two or more Bluetooth devices. For average users, this is very useful for saving time and money when buying a Bluetooth product. A lot of users express discontent over buying incompatible devices.

On top of that, these icons will educate and thereby encourage users to utilize their Bluetooth devices beyond popular usage scenario. For example, many Bluetooth smart phones support other profiles besides headset profile. But being unaware of other supported profiles' capability, most consumers only pair it with a Bluetooth headset.

However, the effectiveness of Bluetooth Experience Icons in boosting global Bluetooth usage for its varied applications remains to be seen. It depends on the awareness of major hardware manufactures and software developers to follow the Bluetooth SIG recommendation to put relevant Bluetooth Experience Icons in their product packages. And the Experience Icons introduction is only one factor, other issues still have to be addressed by the Bluetooth SIG, the to-do-list must contain how to simplify the pairing process and develop non-techy user friendly Bluetooth software. Anyway, have you noticed any of the said icons on a Bluetooth product that you bought recently?