G2: Bluetooth vs. WiFi By - Kelvin Loney

Bluetooth vs. WiFi By - Kelvin Loney Post comments | Read comments

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If you aren't a systems administrator, tech enthusiast or someone who stays hip to the latest, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is two of the leading technologies of wireless communication. When connecting computer networks, powering electronic devices or securing applications the easiest and most convenient way is to use wireless technology. Bluetooth is primarily used as an alternate to cable wiring by offering wireless power connections while Wi-Fi is mostly used to link Local Area Networks (LAN) to the Internet at phenomenal speeds. Both technologies can essentially do the same thing, but for accomplishing certain tasks it is better to use one over the other.

To determine the advantages and disadvantages of each, how about we break it into four categories: Popular applications, Speed, Range and Security maintenance. Popular Applications: Bluetooth first became popular with automobiles and cell phones. You know the radio controls on your car's steering wheel?...Bluetooth. What about those tech- savvy, futuristic earpieces that people wear? I bet on first look you either thought it was the future of cell phones (pretty cool) or it was another useless phone accessory (probably worthless and ugly at that). Either way, a Bluetooth wireless earpiece is good; a conventional earpiece with wires and clothing clips are bad. What about Wi-Fi? If you work in an office, you know how all of the computers are somehow connected to the same network? Well guess what? It's probably due to Wi-Fi. For the rest of us, the most obvious use of Wi-Fi is the video game console Nintendo Wii. Basically it works like this. Since Wi-Fi establishes one of the best Internet connections around, the game console can remain online even when the system is turned off. Even the game controls are similar to your remote control for your TV. It is battery operated and can be operated from fairly long distances.

Speed: When deciding which wireless technology to use, the first question is usually which one is going to accomplish the task the fastest. Bluetooth operates at a moderate rate of about 800kbps compared to the overwhelming speed of Wi-Fi's 11mbps. This means that you wouldn't want to transfer the pictures from your digital camera to your PC with Bluetooth. At the same time, Wi-Fi may operate faster than Bluetooth, but with fast operation comes a larger consumption of power. With that said, you would be best served to power your low power signal devices such as handhelds, mobile phones, and audio components with Bluetooth. Besides how much power do you actually need to power your cell? Using Wi-Fi for something like that would be similar to smashing an ant with a sledgehammer. Range: Wireless technology is much more than transfering speeds and battery life. It also depends on how far its signal can reach. Wi-Fi can stretch over

300 ft. which allows for wireless Internet surfing (case in point, Nintendo Wii) while Bluetooth's short-range coverage of 30 ft. is ideal for point-to-point or multipoint communication between compatible devices. (Perfect for talking through your Bluetooth earpiece while your phone is in your pocket or in the other room).

Security maintenance: When it comes to maintenance, Bluetooth is said to have the better protection. Bluetooth usually has built-in encryption and verification. On the other hand, as complicated as Wi- Fi is, it is fairly easy to crack. A seasoned unauthorized user could effortlessly gain access to data stored on a Wi-Fi network without the administrator's knowledge or consent. It is also possible to send mock signals between networks to give the impression of normal functionality. (Think Ocean's Eleven when Brad Pitt and company ran a videotape of a secure safe while they robbed the actual one blind!)

The bottom line is this: Even though Wi-Fi has been out a number of years before Bluetooth, consumer businesses are eagerly awaiting the promises that Bluetooth seems prepared to fulfill instead of the steadfast Wi-Fi, whose technology is familiar but inconveniently limited. So in summary, one technology is not necessarily better than the other, they just serve different purposes. Depending on your need will determine which wireless technology is best.

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Your next article should be: Zip disks vs. floppy disks.

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Mark W

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