Apple PowerBook Bluetooth Rocks!



On my way home tonight the siren call of the Mac store I pass by every day called to me again and I walked in to fondle the 14" iBook I have my eye on. (Well not this one in particular since it has a horrible Spanish keyboard with the smallest Return key you've ever seen, buy you get the idea). While I was in there I noticed that the 12" PowerBook which had disappeared a couple weeks ago had made it's reappearance and I decided to caress it as well and compare screens. That's when I noticed the Bluetooth icon in the upper right of the screen...

"Ooh," I thought.

So I whipped out my Nokia 7650 and turned on the Bluetooth (because it sucks battery if it's always on) and it detected the PowerBook within seconds. But then it asked me to enter the authentication code that it would need to talk with the computer and nothing was happening on the PowerBook, so I couldn't get any farther. Having learned how to mess with EVERY option there is on Bluetooth to get it to work on my PC - where the Bluetooth drivers are welded on to the OS like a backhoe onto a VW Bug - I decided to go about it the other way and launched the Bluetooth configuration from the PowerBook. The idea is that when two Bluetooth devices first talk, they share an arbitrary passcode that you're prompted for when you try to "pair" the devices. Once the devices are paired, then you don't ever need to enter the code again. It makes the first time sort of manual, but after that It Just Works.

And that's what happened when I started from the Mac. I opened the settings, searched for devices, and it found the Nokia after a few short seconds. Then the computer prompted me for a authentication code - which is always a number, and thus easy to enter on your phone - and I typed in 5555 and hit next and then my phone prompted me for the same info. Once I confirmed the connection from my phone, the devices were paired, and the Mac wizard went on to ask me about where I wanted to store files that get sent over and if I wanted to use the phone as a modem (like a modem OR using GPRS. Cool.) and if I wanted to just save the files or open them up with the associated application (I chose the latter). I set everything else to send to the Desktop so I could find it again easier and told it not to bother prompting me. Perfect.

Then I played. First I took a couple of pics from my Phone and "sent" them to the PC, they arrived instantly on my Desktop. To do the same on my PC I must open the Explorer and navigate to the additional Bluetooth section that's on the level of the hard drives and CD. Once I've done that I have to "connect" and then Bluetooth will start paying attention to the world around it. If I close that Explorer window, the connection drops. This took me QUITE a while to get down. The Mac, however, Just Worked.

I then sent over a calendar entry and iCal popped up and added it to the calendar automatically. A note opened up the Text Editor. A video opened up Quicktime and the images opened up in the Image Viewer. All the files, of course, were saved to the Desktop first so I didn't have to search for them later. Very nice. And this is the first time I've seen some of these apps, so I was quite amazed.

But then I couldn't get any farther. Ideally you want to send stuff to your phone from your computer... there's no iSync for the 7650 that I know of and I didn't even know where to look for it, so I didn't try that. But I couldn't figure out where to send files from the Mac! I looked for an OBEX transfer folder like on the PC and there was none. There was no "right-click send to Bluetooth device command" by holding down the command key and clicking on a file. I spent a while screwing around before I gave up. I'm going to see if I can find the trick online later...

Anyways, it was amazing the difference in experience using Bluetooth on the Mac than on Windows. It Just Worked. And the PowerBook is incredible... well, except that the screen is a bit too small and it's TOO DAMN HOT! Damn you could fry an egg on that bottom left corner. I don't think I can see myself buying an iBook after playing with the PowerBook for a bit - it would be the equivalent of buying a Pentium 3 PC now which will be woefully out of date in months. And no integrated Bluetooth and WiFi? Nah. I'm not going to waste my money.

Really... A new computer without wireless? Bleh.


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