Bluetooth, the short-range wireless technology that connects devices, may finally be ready for prime time with the release next week of the Toshiba Bluetooth PC Card.

Toshiba plans to launch the first Bluetooth PC Card on Monday. The card can be used with notebook PCs with a Type II PC Card slot, and a minimum configuration of a 133-MHz Pentium processor, 64MB of memory, and either Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition or Windows Millennium Edition.

Bluetooth is a low-cost wireless radio transmission specification for creating personal networks of up to eight devices at a distance of 10 to 100 feet.

The long-awaited technology is designed to replace cables and link notebooks, printers, mobile phones, handheld devices, and even car systems at data rates up to 1 Mbps per second.

The Toshiba Bluetooth PC Card may have limited appeal until more Bluetooth devices hit the market, but it at least shows that Bluetooth is now more than just talk.

The company plans to launch built-in Bluetooth products by the middle of next year. Toshiba also plans to release an 802.11b card for wireless LANs. The 802.11b wireless specification is for networking over larger areas and is faster than Bluetooth.

Toshiba's Bluetooth PC Card comes with a Bluetooth software suite as well as SPANworks productivity and collaboration software. SPANworks lets you control device authentication, and even share files or conduct wireless chat.