These days, almost every conceivable gadget comes with Bluetooth - from your laptop to your mobile phone. Named after 10th-century King Harald Bluetooth, who was temporarily able to unite several warring Scandinavian tribes, Bluetooth is a protocol for short-range wireless communications.
The technology was released in 1999 but was slow to catch on, hampered by high prices and incompatibility problems among the devices that made use of it.
But accessory and radio makers have spent nearly a decade getting Bluetooth devices to play nicely, and the technology is enjoying newfound popularity among the mobile crowd. Casey Holmes, an analyst at VDC Research Group, predicts that sales of Bluetooth accessories could rise from $1.6bn in 2007 to $6.4bn in 2011.
While Version 2.1 is the most recent Bluetooth specification, most of the devices on the market today haven't caught up. Not to worry: Bluetooth 2.0 products will reliably work together with hassle-free setup.
However, if you're like me, then you hardly ever use Bluetooth because other than a clunky headset, you think there's not much to connect to.
While that may have been true in the past, its not now as there's an array of cool and useful Bluetooth devices has appeared on the scene.
To get an idea of what Bluetooth is capable of these days, I tested 10 wireless accessories that help with everything from making hands-free calls and printing mobile phone photos to typing emails and controlling presentations. I used the devices with both a mobile phone and a Bluetooth-enabled laptop.
These gadgets were quick starters - with a couple of exceptions, there was no software to load. And unlike in the past, all the devices were up and running in a matter of minutes, most on the first try. All of which means these accessories can free you from the tyranny of cables with almost no effort on your part.
And if you've got a Bluetooth-less laptop then fear not. There are many USB adaptors that can plug into your laptop and connect it with any of these Bluetooth accessories. Plug-in Bluetooth modules are available from a number of companies including Kensington. In particular we love the MoGo Dapter Bluetooth module.
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