Bluetooth

Major guide updates: Opera Mini text copy; modem & Internet sharing and Windows 7

I've just finished updating three major articles / bibles with the most recent changes, tips, tricks and app versions:

A review of Windows 7 & tips & never-before-published hacks - added extensive coverage of the current, RC1 version of Windows 7. It runs much better on the HP TC1100 Tablet PC than the first beta and is highly recommended.

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MWC: (Quick) review: Altec (Plantronics) 903 / 906 A2DP Bluetooth headphones – wowz, they rule! + Sennheiser

Altec Lansing, a branch of Plantronics, revealed their brand new A2DP Bluetooth headphones, the Backbeat 903 (without a Bluetooth transmitter dongle) and the 906 (with a dongle) in early January (see THIS for the report). The new model has just hit the shelves for $100 and $130, respectively. That is, they aren't particularly cheap - but, it seems, they are worth every penny.


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Layoffs in Tech

Topics:

jbThere was a story on CNET News about layoffs at Bluetooth headset maker Aliph today that caught my attention.


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Celio REDFLY at a Special Price

Topics:

RedFly


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MWC: Bluetooth news: A2DP news & reviews (e.g. Voyager 855); a new BT access point; Nokia’s new DVB-H transmitter

In this part of my MWC report series, I show most of the (advanced – that is, I don’t show plain, “boring†Bluetooth headsets) advanced Bluetooth goodies I’ve seen in Barcelona. First, some A2DP news, together with a quick review & comparison of the Plantronics’ new Voyager 855.

A2DP (Stereo Bluetooth audio) news

There were tons of, in cases, brand new and/or forthcoming stereo (A2DP) Bluetooth headphones and/or speakers. Just to name a few:

Cresyn

Cresyn’s new headphones (I haven’t tested them); among others, the CS-BT713 and KS-Kleer (direct homepage of the BT800 is HERE; note that it’s Korean only and there aren’t pages on the two listed headphones at all, their being so new):


Gear4

The Gear4 folks showcased their BluPhones (official product page HERE):


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Tritton AX Visor Universal Bluetooth car kit

Topics:

lead1

The devices we choose to use in our everyday mobile life are generally pretty cool and for the most part satisfy our needs but it is the “peripheral” devices that enhance the enjoyment of the device.


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It is not just a headset, it is EarWear!

Topics:

jb2

There is a NEW Jawbone that has been released by Aliph and Steve "fyiguy" Hughes has had the chance to test it out and write a nice review that is worth reading. 


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An excerpt from my forthcoming BIG and REAL A2DP headphones roundup

I’ve, among other things, been working on an A2DP headphones roundup. While it’ll take at least 4-5 days to publish it (I’m still running some battery life tests), I already publish a chart of five (!) A2DP headphones so that you can avoid going for a pair of headphones that is completely incompatible with your handset / PDA and/or is plain sub-par.


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The Venturi Mini

Topics:

Recently I did a review on a Bluetooth hands free solution that was in my estimation one of the best solutions I have ever used. In a nut shell it had a great quality case, excellent sound reproduction and the FM transmission was absolutely terrific. Shortly after that review I was contacted by a representative of the makers of the Venturi Mini and they asked if I would like to look at their device and if I liked it, would I review it.


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WM 6.1 upgrade & SDHC-compliance report: x51v, hx4700, Universal, Wizard

As promised in my previous article, I’ve taken a deep look at the latest Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrades for the Dell Axim x51v, HP iPAQ hx4700, HTC Universal and HTC Wizard. All the reviewed ROM versions are based on Windows Mobile 5.2.19209 (Build 19209.1.0.2). I run some VERY thorough SDHC conformance tests because, unfortunately, most (as far as the reviewed models are concerned, all – note that, in this regard, I haven’t tested the Universal) plain WM5 / WM6 devices can NOT be easily made SDHC-compliant. This means you MUST upgrade these devices to some of the newer ROMs (including the ones I’ve reviewed) in order to gain SDHC support. Note that I’ve devoted a separate section (at the end) to my test results showing the results of my trying to “hack†the non-WM6.1 ROM-based devices to accept SDHC cards with the latest hacks available.


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Sound ID's Bluetooth Headset Innovation – the HD300

Topics:

Developed by acoustic scientists and engineers, the Sound ID HD300 offers exceptional Bluetooth connectivity, sound clarity and comfort Sound ID announced a breakthrough Bluetooth headset, the HD300. With NoiseNavigation, providing pristine sound through the automatic reduction of wind and background noise, the HD300’s acoustic innovations are evenly matched by its narrow form and chic, high-gloss piano black finish. “Comprised of hearing specialists and top acoustic scientists, Sound ID brings an in-depth knowledge of the human ear to the Bluetooth arena,” said Michael Jones, President and CEO of Sound ID. “Engineered to complement the natural hearing process, the HD300 delivers great audio and a slim design for comfort and style – ensuring its place among the slickest gadgets on the market today.”


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A StowAway / iGo driver (multiplatform) compliance test report

Upon my fellow blogger Tim Hillebrand’s report and because I’ll need to quickly enter a lot of info at MWC (and I don’t want to lug around my desktop replacement and, therefore, pretty heavy IBM Thinkpad a31p just for inputting text), I’ve installed the latest StowAway / iGo Bluetooth drivers on all my mobile devices (even non-Windows Mobile ones) to find out whether the drivers available HERE are (still) compatible with the latest operating system / firmware versions. I’ve found out the following:

Windows Mobile

Pocket PC’s (a.k.a. WM6 Classic / Professional):

HP iPAQ hx4700 (WM5 AKU 3.5.2; selecting & using the Widcomm driver, NOT the MS one); HTC Universal (WM6), Dell Axim x51v (WM5 official A12 (AKU 2.3) ROM with the MS BT stack), HTC Wizard (mfrazzz’ XDA Mobile 6 Release 5 FINAL) and the WM2003 HP iPAQ 2210: all work OK with the factory, default driver.

(Note that, as far as mfrazzz’ XDA Mobile 6 releases are concerned, version 3 was a no-go at all: it didn’t even try to connect. Pressing the Disable built-in HID support doesn’t help at all – unlike with all my other test devices or the same Wizard running Release 5.)

Smartphones (a.k.a. WM6 Standard)

HTC Vox / s710 (factory WM6 Smartphone ROM); no native driver; therefore, I tested it with the s620 / Excalibur / MteoR driver (they’re the same – actually, it seems ALL HTC Smartphones have the same drivers, unlike with WM5 and pre-WM5 Pocket PC’s): OK

HTC Oxygen / s310 with the above MS SP drivers (no native driver): the config app doesn’t even load (“Keyboard driver not functioning!â€); then, after closing it, I started to get system errors about the keyboard driver DLL not responding.


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One of the BEST hacks of the year: Dial-up Networking Through Bluetooth Under WM5 AKU3 / WM6: at last, it’s WORKING, thanks to X

UPDATE (11/02/2007): There's a version specifically meant for the T-Mo Dash is at http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=340762 . Also, if you have a MS Smartphone (as opposed to a Pocket PC), it MUST be application unlocked for the hack to work. See for example See for example http://www.smartphonemag.com/blogs/index.php?blog=3&p=2004&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 for more links on application unlocking. Note that app unlocking is absolutely legal.

UPDATE (10/02/2007): there is an even better, easier-to-install and, what is more, even MS Smartphone (Windows Mobile Standard)-compatible hack. Just download the CAB file linked from THIS post (I’ve also mirrored it HERE, just to be on the safe side, should you not want to register at XDA-Dev to access the download), install it (by simply clicking it on your handheld), power down your device (if it’s a Pocket PC – in order to make sure the Registry changes are all flushed) and restart it.

This hack will add full BT DUN to both platforms. I’ve thoroughly tested it on both my WM6 HTC Universal (a Pocket PC) and WM6 HTC s710 / Vox (a Smartphone) and found it excellent. Note that the traditional, BT PAN-based Internet Sharing will still work alongside with the added BT DUN (tested on both devices).

Note that it has a minor annoyance. After you terminate the connection, you will still be unable to access the Net on the Pocket PC or Smartphone that you used as a modem (also see THIS and THIS for similar bug reports). The solution to this is pretty simple: instead of (lengthy and/or awkward) soft resetting your handheld, just make sure you tap either the data connection icon in Comm Manager (this seem to be sufficient with Smartphones) or, as with, it seems, with Pocket PC’s (like the Universal), just dis- and, then, re-enable the phone connection itself (or, alternatively, en-, and, then, re-disable Flight mode). This all makes this small bug easy to live with.

Finally, Smartphone users: remember NOT to long-press the Red dial button to lock your device – it’ll also terminate the call. Instead, use the standard lock menu accessible via the Power button.

There is also a tutorial on making USB connection work with Modem Link HERE, should it be messed up. Also, the entire thread might be worth giving a read, should you still have problems.

Thanks for FX Belloir for pointing out this hack!

(end of update, the now-outdated original article follows. This means you’ll want to prefer the new hack explained above, NOT the old one I still keep for historical purposes only. It's only the first sections, which explain what this is all about, are worth reading for casual users.)

Anyone having read my article New dial-up networking model of the WM5 AKU3 – a must if you use your WM phones as modems knows WM5 AKU3 (and, of course, WM6) has dramatically changed the way dial-up networking is handled – not necessarily in the good direction. (Please DO read the article if you don’t have a clue what I’m referring to and you have ever wanted to use your Windows Mobile handheld as a cellular modem!)

Microsoft, so far, haven’t really done anything to the problem, except for publishing an article (also discussed for example HERE). Therefore, hackers needed to concentrate their forces on solving the problem. After the first failed attempts (for example mine, as is explained in the first-linked article), at last, some excellent XDA-Developers folks have managed to enable this feature with a comparatively easy-to-do hack. I’ve developed the hack further, making it compatible with several handheld models and ROM versions (the previous version available at XDA-Developers doesn’t support the Universal, Wizard and, probably, several other models because it doesn’t do any forced Registry import – it might only be compatible with the P3600.)

The hack makes it possible to use most WM5 AKU3 / WM6 devices in the traditional (pre-WM5 AKU3) DUN dial-up method, in addition to the new, in WM5 AKU3 introduced Internet Sharing.

This means you can use BOTH technologies and can have the advantages of BOTH approaches. With the “traditional†DUN dial-up, you still have the freedom of NOT having to manually start / reconnect Internet Sharing AND the ability to use clients not supporting the BT Personal Area Network (PAN) profile required by the new Internet Sharing. And, as Internet Sharing is still supported, you can still have a real internet sharing approach, making it possible to use the Internet on both the Windows Mobile device acting as a modem and the client that connects to it (and can still have the other goodies Internet Sharing also offers: for example, the accessibility of the phone even with an ongoing Internet session.)

Again, it’s almost impossible to emphasize how important, how revolutional this hack is! If you’ve EVER tried to use your WM5 AKU3 / WM6 Windows Mobile phone as a modem you know Internet Sharing can be a REAL pain in the back, particularly if the client you’d like to use it from doesn’t support BT PAN.


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TekSoft: "the MS BT stack can not be hacked to enable flawless call recording"

TekSoft, one of the most excellent newcomers to the Windows Mobile developer scene but already being Bluetooth experts (see for example their excellent BlueMouse and BlueMusic applications), have just announced in THIS thread that it's, unfortunately, not possible to "hack" the Microsoft Bluetooth implementation of Windows Mobile to "capture" speech packets and record them:

"We had another attempt of making PhoneREC possible - by intercepting the voice flowing through the BT driver when a Bluetooth headset is connected:

1) when a call is established, the software would have enabled voice routing to Bluetooth headset
2) if a headset was not present, it would have been emulated (to be able to use the device without headsets with phonerec too)
3) voice data over Bluetooth would have been in the form of SCO packets
4) our software would have intercepted the SCO packets, extract the voice data, record it to a file, and play it on the device's speaker (so no need of using the headset to hear the other party in the call)

Unfortunately this failed too, as the SCO packets are handled in the hardware, so we found no way of capturing those from a software program.

The only remaining option is to use a custom made wired headset with PhoneREC. This works and assures high fidelity sound for both parties, but the phoneREC user can only record the phone call by using the special wired headset."

This is certainly very bad news for anyone not having a call recording-capable model.

For the time being, you have only few choices if you want to record your phone conversations. These are as follows:


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WM6 & Microsoft Bluetooth A2DP (stereo Bluetooth headphones) quality: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Everyone into A2DP and stereo, wireless Bluetooth headphones knows the Microsoft Bluetooth stack, quality-wise, used to be WAY worse than that of competing products (Widcomm / Broadcom on Windows Mobile; Nokia and other products on other platforms). I’ve thoroughly elaborated on this issue in the Comparison & thorough compliance report of three stereo Bluetooth headphones: Nokia HS-12W, Plantronics Pulsar 590 and 260 and previous articles. Note that you WILL want to read at least this article - it may answer a LOT of your A2DP-related questions.

Fortunately, there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Upon seeing THIS XDA-Dev thread (linked from THIS thread at MoDaCo), I’ve made some very thorough tests with the new, WM6 Bluetooth implementation and was VERY pleased with the results.

Yes, the new WM6 (as far as REAL, official WM6 versions are concerned and NOT illegal, “cooked†ROM’s, some of which still having the pre-WM6, low-quality A2DP implementation) indeed delivers a vast quality increase.

Listening to any music with singing was pretty much impossible with the MS BT stack back in the WM5 days (with an incompatible pair of headphones; don’t forget that, as has also been pointed out in my already-linked article, the A2DP implementation of WM5 delivers excellent results with already compatible A2DP headphones like the Nokia HS-12W); now, with WM6, the sound quality is pretty much close to that of the Widcomm (Broadcom) BT stack. It’s only audiophiles (like me) that will notice the VERY slightly lower sound quality with the new, WM6 implementation; ordinary people not really.

Again, the sound quality of the new A2DP implementation is orders of magnitude better (again, I only speak about incompatible headphones, NOT about compatible ones like the already-mentioned Nokia HS-12W! Keep this in mind when I speak about the bad sound quality of pre-WM6 A2DP implementation) than that of ANY WM5-based Pocket PC’s or Smartphones. This means you can, finally, dump Widcomm hacks or Widcomm-based handhelds in favor of new, WM6-based phones.

What about pre-WM6 Windows Mobile models?

After Microsoft introduced A2DP support in January 2006 with WM5 AKU2, the vast majority (exceptions include, for example, the HTC Wizard, which has never officially received any A2DP support) of new models (and operating system upgrades for existing ones) coming with the Microsoft BT stack (that is, all WM5 models except for Acer’s and HP’s models and the Fujitsu-Siemens T830 phone) have been released with A2DP support.

The A2DP sound quality of WM5 AKU2 devices was terrible. It was only with VERY few headphones models (for example, the already-mentioned Nokia HS-12W) that it delivered good sound quality. The vast majority of existing A2DP stereo headphones models (for example, the Plantronics Pulsar 590 and 260) were plain useless with the stack.


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Bluetooth headset candidate #6: Plantronics Voyager 510

Plantronics Voyager 510
Specs:
Bluetooth version - 1.2
Range - 33 ft.
Talk time - up tp 6 hours
Stand-by - up to 100 hours
Charging time - 3 hours
Weight - approx. 0.5 ounces
Noise cancelling w/WindStop technology

MSRP: $79.99

Around here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the entry-level offering from Plantronics, the Voyager 510, seems to be a very popular choice amongst the mobile-inclined! There are a lot of managers and directors at my workplace who have made it their headset of choice. In addition, from speaking with a lot of the cell phone retailers in my area they can confirm its popularity. and who could blame them knowing the reputation of Plantronics. These facts piquing my curiousity, I decided to add this to the line up for my consideration. Will it pass my test?


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Just Another Mobile Monday publishes a review of the Logitech FreePulse Headphones

Just Another Mobile Monday has just published a review of the Logitech FreePulse Headphones. It's worth giving a read if you'd like to know how these A2DP Bluetooth headphones fare.

I also recommend THIS article for more info on what A2DP is and what issues it has.


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Dial-up networking model of the WM5 AKU3 explained by Microsoft

Anyone having read the article The new dial-up networking model of the WM5 AKU3 – a must if you use your WM phones as modems knows AKU3 (and, of course, WM6) has dramatically changed the way dial-up networking is handled.

The Microsoft WM folks have just published an article on the PAN vs DUN issue, the central issue of the new networkin


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