Java Developer’s Journal – Wireless J2ME Applications with Java and Bluetooth: “The oven is great at cooking, but bad at heating food quickly and it’s also pretty expensive. Conversely, the microwave is cheap and great at heating food quickly, but it’s bad at cooking. Both devices have their trade-offs, although either could be used for heating and cooking. How does all this compare to wireless communication?
It’s pretty simple. Wireless LAN (802.11b) is good at connecting two relatively large devices with lots of power at high speeds. A good use of the technology is connecting two laptops at 11Mb/s. Wireless LAN is also good at connecting those devices at long distances (up to 300 ft).
Bluetooth is ideal if you want to connect small devices at slower speeds (1Mb/s) and within a shorter range (30 ft.). You can often find this technology on cheaper wireless headphones and even on higher performance devices like gaming peripherals. Why slower speeds? Isn’t faster better? Isn’t long-range communication a good thing? Not necessarily, especially when you consider the memory and power constraints on smaller devices. Faster connection speeds and longer communication ranges equate to larger power requirements. Why use an 11Mb/s connection if you’re transferring a 50K file between two PDAs?
One of Bluetooth’s strengths is its ability to function as a cable replacement technology. If you have multiple peripherals connected to your computer using RS-232 or USB, then Bluetooth is the ideal solution if you want to use those devices wirelessly. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to connect computer peripherals using 802.11b technology (except for printers). Bluetooth even has a built-in capability for wireless audio communication. To put things succinctly: Bluetooth will never replace 802.11b because it’s bad for:
- Large file transfers between devices
- Long-range communication
On the other hand, 802.11b will never replace Bluetooth because:
- It can’t be used to communicate to peripherals.
- It requires too much power for small devices.
- It’s overkill for small data transfers.
- It wasn’t designed for voice communication.
For the moment in the wireless communications arena, there’s no technology that’s best suited for every possible application. Either Bluetooth or 802.11b can be utilized for wireless communication between computers. Both have their place in the market, and both can perform remarkably well in their niches.“