The corollary to Clarke’s Law (“any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”) is that any technology distinguishable from magic is not sufficiently advanced.
Bluetooth is not sufficiently advanced. Yet.
I came home tonight with a relatively simple task – get a Sony Ericsson Bluetooth headset working with my laptop, and hopefully get Skype up and running.
Bluetooth sounds simple in theory, right? Your headset and your laptop talk to each other, the laptop (which should have all the brains) discovers that the headset provides the Headset service, and pairs with it to use that Headset service.
As it is, it took me two hours.
Most of the problem lay with the feature-deprived Microsoft Bluetooth driver that ships with Windows XP SP2. While the Bluetooth support in SP2 is excellent – and a big step up from previous versions – the Bluetooth driver itself is lousy, and doesn’t support all of the available services (specifically, it doesn’t support the Headset service). The Widcomm (now Broadcom) software is infinitely superior, but installing it (on my Dell, at least) demands a lot of willingness to screw around in the Device Manager, which you should never have to do. The procedure is linked here, for anyone who stumbles onto this page via Google.
Once the Microsoft drivers are gone, and the Broadcom drivers are installed, I went to the Quick Connect menu, and tried to connect to the headset – which suddenly seemed to have become confused as to its function, because it wasn’t responding to the Headset service. However, the Quick Connect function doesn’t think to try and pair with the device before using its functions – so if you have a password on your headset, like this one, then Quick Connect will fail with an obscure error message.
But eventually it worked – and it worked well. The sound quality on the headset is a bit lame – MP3s played through it via iTunes ended up sounding like AM radio – but it would be fine for voice. Skype worked third try; the headset was the culprit when two of my calls turned into fax-sounding static, but barring that, it worked perfectly. And at two euro-cents (three Aussie cents) per minute, it’s almost better value than calling on a landline phone.
I have to return the headset tomorrow, unfortunately…