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Bluetooth Blues

Yesterday's Help File looked into the difficulties involved in replacing the little USB receivers that most cordless mice use require to connect to computers. It concluded with this suggestion:

One way to avoid this entire issue is to buy a computer with Bluetooth wireless built-in. With one of those machines, you don't need a proprietary, easily misplaced USB add-on to add a wireless mouse; you can use any Bluetooth mouse.

That is true--plus, using a Bluetooth mouse means you don't have to tie up a USB port with a wireless receiver. But I would be remiss if I did not note the inconveniences imposed by awkward Bluetooth software.

On a Toshiba Satellite U305 laptop, for example, one attempt to set up a Bluetooth mouse ran around with an "Unable to detect remote device" error. The problem wasn't that the mouse was too far away--it was sitting on the laptop's palm rest--but that it had already been set up with another computer.

After guessing that I needed to reset this rodent, I had to step through Toshiba's annoying "wizard" interface, which featured this outbreak of both jargon and redundancy: "Registering a HID device to this system." ("HID" stands for "human interface device"--so the software really said it was registering a "human interface device device." As a writer, I let these things bother me way too much.)

A Samsung Q1 Ultra "Ultra Mobile PC" had a simpler setup, thanks to Samsung refraining from sticking its own front end on top of Windows Vista's Bluetooth software. Pairing a Bluetooth mouse with this machine proceeded smoothly (aside from some confusing instructions about how I should enter the mouse's numerical passkey to confirm the pairing), right up to the end of the process--when Windows directed me to restart the computer. Huh? I ignored that advice (you should never need to restart after such a simple change) and had no problem using the mouse.

The easiest, fastest setup experience came with an Apple iMac desktop. But this, too, stumbled when presented with a mouse that had already been paired with another computer; like the Toshiba, it failed to suggest resetting the device.

The biggest problem with Bluetooth on personal computers, however, is that it remains an extra-cost option on most laptops; on many desktops, it's not available at any price.

Does your current machine come with Bluetooth? If not, did you think about paying extra for that option?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  October 15, 2007; 8:58 AM ET
Categories:  Gripes  
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