10 great Bluetooth gadgets
By Brian Nadel
November 20, 2008 12:00 PM ET
Interlink's $50 VP6600 media remote weighs an ounce and is smaller than a business card, yet can control a PowerPoint show so well that every mobile presenter should pack it -- especially because it charges and travels right in your notebook's ExpressCard slot.
Setting up the tiny remote control with my notebook took a minute, but there's neither an on-off switch nor a light, so you have to trust that the VP6600 is working. On top of buttons that move your slides forward and back, and change the volume up and down, there's a handy mute button. The device, which requires Windows XP or Vista, can also play and move among tracks of a CD or DVD.
The VP660's 50-foot range can come in handy when presenting in a big room. The remote control card ran for more than three hours on a charge; after 30 minutes of idle time it puts itself to sleep. Let's hope that your next audience doesn't suffer a similar fate.
Yamaha's $200 NX-B02 Bluetooth speaker set puts an end to the presenter's nightmare of fumbling with wires to connect speakers or -- worse yet -- not finding the right audio cable. A single box, which contains two speakers, connects in a flash, runs on batteries and sounds like a much larger speaker system.
At 1.5 pounds and about the size of a small clock radio, it's hard to believe that the NX-B02 contains a 10-watt amplifier. The unit's 1.75-in. Titanium cone speakers are augmented by two passive radiators (diaphragms that move in response to the main diaphragm's vibration, strengthening the bass). It comes with an AC adapter but not the four AA batteries that can power it for six and a half hours.
Connecting it to my phone and handheld was straightforward and took all of a minute each. The NX-B02's audio is surprisingly rich, on a par with a good boombox. It has a 20-foot range and can easily fill a room with wireless sound.
Whether it's at a meeting or a wedding, sneaking a look at your phone to see what calls or texts you've missed is an obnoxious habit. But we're all guilty of it at one time or another. Sony Ericsson's $300 MBW-150 can put an end to this loathsome behavior; it's a wristwatch that's an extension of your phone.
The 2.7-ounce MBW-150 Classic Edition is nicely styled, but at 0.6-inch thick, its stainless steel case is a little chunky for me. At the bottom of the stylish analog time dial is a small Organic LED screen that shows who is calling or that a new text message has arrived.
Connecting with my phone was a snap, although it took me a while to master the device's five control buttons. The MBW-150 really came into its own as a way to control my phone's music collection. It not only shows what track is playing, but the three buttons on the left side can pause, move a track or change the volume.
The Bluetooth radio has a range of 20 feet, and its battery lasted for five days' worth of calls and music. The watch kept excellent time and kept running after the Bluetooth radio shut down. (I was, however, disappointed that it didn't automatically change from daylight-saving time to standard time.) With the MBW-150, I can keep my phone in my pocket, where it belongs.
On its surface, Bluetooth might seem to be wide open to assorted hackers, bluejackers (who send unwanted messages to your phone) and bluesnarfers (who steal personal data stored on your phone or notebook). But there's a lot you can do to protect your equipment, data and identity when using Bluetooth devices. Follow these simple precautions to stay safe:
- If you're using Bluetooth in public, be aware of those around you. Bluetooth's range is limited to between 15 and 45 feet, which means a digital burglar needs to be within your sight to break into your phone or notebook.
- Always use the strongest security and authentication settings available. Mode 3 is the best bet because it sets its security protocol before the link is set up.
- Delete any Bluetooth profiles you no longer use; they can give a hacker a backdoor.
- Always use a passcode -- and always set your own rather than using the default setting for the device. Don't use obvious codes, and do change them frequently.
- Turn the phone or notebook's visibility setting to "undiscoverable."
- Never attempt to pair with a device you don't recognize. You never know who is out there or what they're trying to do.