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I am (hopefully) getting a pda for graduation that is bluetooth enabled, & was hoping to get it wireless internet access for my house so I could get online. The problem is, I don't know if that's what bluetooth was made for, or what kind of 'instrument' I need for it to be able to access the internet wirelessly.

My main questions:
Are bluetooth & wifi interchangeable?
Can bluetooth access the internet, and if so, what type of components do I need? (we have a homemade lan, & a cable modem w/ router)
Should I be looking for a wifi enabled pda instead?

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Last Post by pcpalct
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Hi!

There is quite a difference between bluetooth and the WiFi standards (802.11a, b, and g). Bluetooth is a more local low frequency wireless network designed for mice, keyboards, and the like. The main reason for it's short distance low rate transmissions is because if it were as WiFi, you'd be controlling your neighbors wireless mouse :) Which actually could be entertaining.

WiFi on the other hand uses frequencies that are accessible from a distance and is the standard used for wireless internet.

To keep it short and sweet on my end, let me direct you to this article by a pro (http://reviews-zdnet.com.com/4520-6033_16-4207317.html):

While it's still too early to answer these questions definitively, I can offer some observations and see what conclusions follow from there.

Speed: Bluetooth operates at about 720kbps, WiFi at 11mbps--a big speed difference. Bluetooth is too slow for video transfers, and probably too slow to move a bunch of large images off a digital camera. And you wouldn't connect a hard drive to your computer using Bluetooth--not if you're smart.

Applications: Bluetooth is a cable replacement, designed to connect devices point-to-point. WiFi is designed to hook up an entire network; it can be used to connect one computer directly to another, but that's not its real purpose. Yes, there will be Bluetooth access points to bridge the two networks, but they won't be the best choice in most applications. And there are already WiFi wireless print servers--I have one from Linksys--that work just fine.

Security: Bluetooth is probably--emphasize probably--a bit more secure than WiFi. For one thing, Bluetooth is designed to cover shorter distances than 802.11b; if someone hacks your Bluetooth network, how much damage can they do? Print to your printer? Also, Bluetooth offers two levels of (optional) password protection. WiFi has all the security risks associated with other networks: Once someone has access to one part, he or she can access the rest.

Ease of use: Bluetooth devices "advertise" their capabilities to others, and a single device can be connected to up to seven other devices at the same time. This makes it easy to find and connect to the device you are looking for or to switch between devices, such as two printers. WiFi is more complex; it requires the same degree of network management as any comparable wired network.

Power: Bluetooth has a smaller power requirement than WiFi, and devices can be physically smaller, making it a good choice for consumer electronics devices.

Compatibility: Bluetooth and WiFi share the same band of frequencies and could, therefore, interfere with one another. For a variety of technical reasons, Bluetooth is more likely to interfere with WiFi than vice versa. But while I haven't rigorously tested my own set-up for interference, so far I've been able to run Bluetooth and WiFi devices right next to one another without any noticeable problems. I'm going to keep looking, however.

BOTTOM LINE: Bluetooth is the choice for connecting single devices when speed isn't a major issue; it's best suited to low-bandwidth applications such as sharing printers, syncing PDAs, using a cell phone as a modem, and (eventually) connecting appliances to one another within a 30- to 60-foot range.

Bluetooth isn't a good replacement for all cables, including USB and 1394/FireWire connections. It's not a great way to connect high-bandwidth devices, such as external drives or digital video cameras and computers; nice as it would be, Bluetooth is probably not a good choice for downloading stills from your digital camera to your PC. And WiFi is the best choice for connecting your computers to one another and to the Internet.

If I could only have WiFi or Bluetooth, then Bluetooth loses. But it's not an either/or thing. The two wireless protocols do different things. As more Bluetooth devices come to market, I believe most of us will eventually have some of both. Just be glad you don't have to commit to one or the other right now.

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Security: Bluetooth is probably--emphasize probably--a bit more secure than WiFi. For one thing, Bluetooth is designed to cover shorter distances than 802.11b; if someone hacks your Bluetooth network, how much damage can they do? Print to your printer? Also, Bluetooth offers two levels of (optional) password protection. WiFi has all the security risks associated with other networks: Once someone has access to one part, he or she can access the rest.

I have a 802.11g USB WiFi Key for internet access (because the dogs we have like to eat cables!) which says it has "128 bit WEP encryption" and allows you to enter the 128 bit keys. How does that compare to bluetooth security? Ive never been that faithful in wireless security....

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I have a 802.11g USB WiFi Key for internet access (because the dogs we have like to eat cables!) which says it has "128 bit WEP encryption" and allows you to enter the 128 bit keys. How does that compare to bluetooth security? Ive never been that faithful in wireless security....

It's a broad question open for a lot of negotiation. I can say for a personal opinion, bluetooth doesn't do much. As the article stated, "if someone hacks your Bluetooth network, how much damage can they do? Print to your printer?". Wireless security (802.11-a-b-g) are far more secure if configured properly, so trust it if you know it's been done right (Plus...WiFi was actually designed to handle internet traffic).

Remember: Bluetooth is mostly for peripherals and not wireless data transmissions. Although it CAN be used for that, it is not the intended purpose.

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thank you pcpalct :)

Bluetooth is mostly for peripherals and not wireless data transmissions

Correct me if i am wrong but isnt bluetooth used in mobile phone tech? I know mine has GPRS but Im not sure if some use WiFi yet?

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thank you pcpalct :)

Correct me if i am wrong but isnt bluetooth used in mobile phone tech? I know mine has GPRS but Im not sure if some use WiFi yet?

True, but mostly for short range communication with devices. Either way...yes, you are right. It is used in cellular communications.

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