Untangling the Wireless Mess

After years of promises to revolutionize the computing world, wireless technology is finally making its way into meeting rooms and offices around the world. What is this new technology and how can it help you meet more effectively?

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
The two major players in wireless options right now are Bluetooth wireless technology and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11). Both are international standards that operate on radio frequencies.

Bluetooth was originally developed by Ericsson, a Swedish phone company, but then became an industry standard that is now available to everyone. The technology is named after Harald Blåtand (translated to Harold Bluetooth in English), a Danish king who united Denmark and Norway. Bluetooth promises to unite the computing world and so the name was chosen.

Bluetooth products contain a tiny short-range radio that allows products like cell phones, printers, laptops, handheld PCs and peripherals to talk to each other without cables. The technology has a range of 30' (9 m) and doesn’t draw much power from the device it is installed in.

Wi-Fi, also a radio technology, was developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This technology is faster than Bluetooth, has a range of 75–150' (22.5–45 m) in an office and up to 1000' (300 m) in open areas, and requires a greater amount of power.

Both technologies allow you to use your computer, peripherals and network without cables – but the benefits they offer are different.

Wireless Benefits
How great would it be to walk into a meeting room, turn on your laptop and connect to the network wirelessly? You could instantly share documents with other meeting attendees, print any important documents without disrupting the meeting to connect to the printer and more. Wireless technology means colleagues can connect and share information seamlessly.

Although Bluetooth and Wi-Fi offer similar solutions there are differences to consider before purchasing either technology for your meeting room.

Bluetooth technology is a great cable-replacement technology because it draws less power and has a shorter range than Wi-Fi. With Bluetooth you would no longer need cables for your mouse, printer, keyboard or other peripherals.

Wi-Fi, with its longer range and larger power draw, is the best option to wirelessly connect larger devices such as your computer and a network. In bigger devices the larger power draw lets you exchange data without a noticeable change in speed and users can be further away from the modem. However, for smaller, battery operated devices, Wi-Fi’s larger power draw isn’t as useful because it will quickly drain their power supply.

Bluetooth is the lower-cost option – it is expected that adding Bluetooth to products will raise the cost by US$10. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, could raise the cost by US$35 per product.

Make your technology versatile, by buying products such as laptops and pocket PCs that have both technologies installed, so you can choose when and where to use either technology.

Go Wireless!
There are currently over 800 licensed Bluetooth solutions and over 500 Wi-Fi products. Companies such as Intel, Microsoft and Toshiba offer products that are equipped with either Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or both.

You may not go wireless overnight, but if you slowly introduce the technology into your meeting rooms you could find that your meetings become more productive. No more wasting time searching for cables and setting up multimedia equipment. Access all the files, appointments and tools you need – tangle-free!


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