07/8/09

Bluetooth, Widcomm, Toshiba, Microsoft and Unstandardized Standards

Don’t believe anything that you read in the newspapers about how Bluetooth is a standard based technology. Well, it is… like at the integrated circuit level.

If you ever want to do more than just transferring files or syncing your mobile phone, you’ve probably run into the same problems as I have. Put simply, the Microsoft Bluetooth Stack that is included with every Windows XP SP2 (and anything more recent) doesn’t cut it. Yes, this sounds familiar… here’s a hint; it rhymes with Internet Explorer. The Microsoft Bluetooth Stack (referred to as MSBS from hereon in) isn’t so much of a stack… maybe a small pile… but definitely not a stack. Kind of like selling the male reproductive orgasn as a package… sans testicles. MSBS supports File Transfer… and err… Dial-Up Networking… and err… yeah, that’s about it. Microsoft being anal about bundling their own wonderful MSBS in every version of Windows after XP SP2 has brought Bluetooth to the simpleton masses… but pretty much screwed over any techie who is interested in the full potential of Bluetooth.

Because of the bundled MSBS (Windows being used on like 90% of the PC market or something like that), Bluetooth hardware manufacturers decided, “Hey guys, MS already bundles drivers with Windows… let’s save like 20 cents on the driver CD!!!”. Well, something like that anyway. USB Bluetooth dongle prices dropped to like RM15/pc because of the absence of a driver CD and the wonder of Chinese reverse (and re)engineering.

I forgot the whole point of this rant… so to wrap up… the Microsoft Bluetooth Stack and the Toshiba Bluetooth Stack sucks goats nuts. The only Bluetooth Stack you should even consider using is the Widcomm/Broadcom Stack. Issue is, Widcomm/Broadcom decided to protect themselves by allowing their Bluetooth Stack to only be used with licensed hardware so the only way to get the Widcomm/Broadcom Stack on your PC is by looking for a needle in a stack of needles… or more accurately the grand total of like 4 USB Bluetooth dongles that come with the Widcomm/Broadcom stack in the big stack of needles known as Low Yat Plaza.

To prevent anyone else from suffering more pain than necessary, here are the few USB Bluetooth dongles I have found that come with the Widcomm/Broadcom stack:

  • Anycom USB-500
  • Belkin F8T013 (and most other Belkin Bluetooth devices)
  • D-Link DBT-120/122 (unconfirmed)

If you think you can get that RM15 dongle to run the Audio Gateway service… go right ahead.

P.S. you can’t…

07/3/09

Bluetooth Audio Gateway/Headset Profile & You

Once upon a time, Bluetooth dongles came with drivers… typically those drivers included cool and useful things (like the Bluetooth Audio Gateway). Now, what the Bluetooth Audio Gateway (BT AG from here on) means to most people is this – BT headset connected to PC via USB BT dongle, stream music (and other audio stuff) from PC to headset (ie. Skype). Based on the number of hits I get when searching for information on this subject, attempting the above scenario is already hard enough as it is.

Now, here’s where it gets really hairy. I want to pair my mobile (N97) with my PC… and use my PC speakers/mic as a replacement for a BT headset. The MS BT stack doesn’t carry the BT AG (or HSP/Headset Profile) and is notoriously hard to get rid of. The drivers (outdated by 5 years+ mind you) that are floating around the net that are for more recent version of Windows (XP SP2/XP64/Vista) have all conveniently decided to remove the BT AG/HSP profiles. I guess the total size of the file may have been bloated by an additional 50kB and they couldn’t afford the hosting or something to that effect.

So, as of this moment… I am still hitting myself in the head with a cheese grate trying to figure this out. Good luck to me and good luck to anyone else that is trying to figure this out as well.