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Growth Spurt

Thanks to the spread of Bluetooth, now your business can be as wireless as you want it to be.

Bluetooth as a technology is entering its teenage years. We're past the early hype, and it's now popping up in everything from cell phones to mice to digital cameras. So we've rounded up a variety of Bluetooth hardware add-ons to see firsthand how convenient this version of wireless really is.

The Concord Eye-Q Go Wireless is a nifty little digital camera with built-in Bluetooth. For $149 (all prices street) it comes with a USB Bluetooth adapter for your computer. Setup is fast, and everything functions as advertised. At 2 megapixels, the image quality won't blow you away, and the Bluetooth speeds are less than instantaneous when transferring graphics files. But for quick, down-and-dirty snapshots and extremely convenient transfers, it will handle the tasks. It's also an easy choice if you want to transfer photos to your noncamera mobile phone.

The Plantronics M2500 Bluetooth Headset has a slender design that's slightly larger than your grandma's hearing aid. Intuitive controls on the headset include a small scroll wheel for volume adjustment and a separate button near the mic to initiate and terminate conversations. The volume wheel also doubles as a mute button. The M2500 touts a talk time of 5 hours and a standby time of 120 hours, with a street price of $89.95.

Cardo Systems' allways Bluetooth headset is slightly larger than the M2500 but weighs a hair less. Logitech's Mobile Bluetooth Headset is roughly the same size as the allways, except that the microphone extends further. Unlike the M2500 and the allways, the Logitech headset clips behind the ear rather than hooking over it, making for a more secure attachment.

The allways has ubiquitous noise-cancellation technology that enhances the conversation, though background noise is still heard. The Logitech headset with its extending mic also uses noise-cancellation technology, but with better results. They are close in both talk time and street price, with the allways clocking 6.5 hours at $99.99, and the Logitech getting 7 hours at $99.95. One feature separating the allways from the other headsets is the eyeglass mount attachment, giving spectacle wearers a less cumbersome solution.

Also from Logitech is the MX900 Bluetooth Optical Mouse. The MX900 has a comfortable ergonomic design with lots of functionality. This optical mouse features a scroll wheel as well as up and down buttons. It also includes front and back thumb buttons for browsing the Web, and a program selector button that allows the user to switch between active programs and documents. The MX900 comes with a base station for recharging and has a street price of $99.95. That's a lot for a mouse, but some entrepreneurs will value the flexibility over the cost.

Headsets and mice are obvious choice for Bluetooth, but GPS is another application where it makes sense. The $279 Socket Communications GPS Nav Kit receiver uses Bluetooth to wirelessly hook up with a PDA to pinpoint your location and help you get where you're going. It's more complicated to set up than an all-in-one GPS device, but you get the flexibility, power and performance of using your own PDA. If your PDA isn't already Bluetooth-ready, Socket offers Bluetooth SDIO or CompactFlash connection kits for about $140.

Research editor Steve Cooper contributed to this article.

Shopping List:

You name the technology, and chances are, there's a bluetooth version. these are just a few of the devices that are now available.

MANUFACTURER/
MODEL
CONTACTTYPEFEATURESSTREET
PRICE
Cardo Systems
allways
(412) 788-4533
www.allways1.com
headsetVolume control button, mute button, call answer/end button, eyeglass and ear loop mount,6.5 hours talk time, exchangeable designer panels$99.99
Concord
Eye-Q Go Wireless
(954) 331-4200
www.concord-camera.com
digital camera
2 megapixels, includes USB Bluetooth adapter, 3.7 ounces$149
Logitech
Mobile Bluetooth Headset
(510) 795-8500
www.logitech.com
headset
Multifunction volume control and mute button, call answer/end button, 7 hours talk time,sturdy charger/carrying case$99.95
Logitech
MX900 Bluetooth Optical Mouse
(510) 795-8500
www.logitech.com
mouse
Windows-compatible only, scroll wheel$99.95
Plantronics
M2500 Bluetooth Headset
(800) 544-4660
www.plantronics.com
headset
Multifunction volume control and mute button, 5 hours talk time, voice dialing with compatible phones$89.95
Socket Communications
GPS receiver
(510) 744-2700
www.socketcom.com
GPS receiver
Compact size, includes navigation software, three-year warranty$279

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This article was originally published in the August 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Growth Spurt.

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