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Socket Wireless Modem — Welcome to my Bluetoothache.

April 7, 2004

Checking in from the far reaches of the Hinternet again today… The DVI-VGA cable arrived, and I’ve got the Powerbook talking to an external monitor—Hurrah!  Not only does this mean I’m not required to try to make Win95 work (as interesting as that turned out to be), it means that the Powerbook’s video card is still functional; hopefully just a loose cable or something that can be repaired quickly.

While I’m stuck on dialup, I thought it’d be nice to be able to be wirelessly connected to the net, so that I would not have to duck away so often to check my mail, etc.  As I was packing up to head this way, I remembered reading a review a week or two ago about Socket’s new 56K bluetooth modem.  After checking to make sure that it was supposed to be compatible with OS X and Pocket PC (some similar devices are not; they use a windows-only encryption system), I ordered one and had it drop-shipped to Nebraska to meet me.

I didn’t get a chance to try to set it up yesterday, as the Powerbook wasn’t available, so today I unpacked it, thinking I could at least use it to get the Pocket PC online.

Silly me…


Pop the CD in the drive, open the booklet, and it says “DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE SOCKET HARDWARE OR SOFTWARE UNTIL YOU RUN THE SETUP CENTER.” Unfortunately, the “Setup Center” is a Windows executable.  Guess we won’t be running that.  They list the files they install on the Pocket PC, but unfortunately, they seem to be in an Windows install package instead of loose on the CD (which had plenty of room for both, of course), so I won’t be installing them from the Powerbook.

The Socket CF Bluetooth card in the Toshiba doesn’t seem willing to set up a connection to the Socket Bluetooth modem (presumably, the software to install would have fixed this), so the Manual Connection instructions are useless too.

Just for giggles, I paired the modem from the Powerbook; it looks like I’ll need a Bluetooth Modem configuration file for that however.  Nothing that looks like that around here either.

Sigh…

Well, onto the review—the device is a couple of ounces, about half the size of a pack of cigarettes.  It has a lithium-ion battery and includes a wall-wart transformer/charger with a variety of international plug adapters.  It has a phone jack on the back, an on/off slide switch on the front, and at least four LEDs.  Street price is about $110, plus shipping.

Oh yeah—and you can’t set it up if the only bluetooth devices you have with you are a Pocket PC and a Powerbook.  If that’s your configuration, spend your money on Wi-Fi rental at some coffee shop, or perhaps on a nice bottle of Tanqueray.  I know that I for one would have found a hundred bucks worth of gin far more interesting this week than this gadget.  Why do some manufacturers seem to think that a Windows box is the essential accessory for owning a Mac or a Pocket PC?  If you don’t, this thing probably isn’t for you, at least as currently packaged.

Oh well, I’ll toss it in the suitcase and probably play with it someday with my desktop, right where it’s about as useless as a third tit, since I do have broadband and wi-fi there, and I don’t have a POTS line to try it with.

Whoopee.

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