Wireless Transmission

The two wireless standards preferred for photo transmission are infrared and Bluetooth. (A handful of camphones also offer 802.11b, but it isn't widespread yet.) What infrared and Bluetooth do is transmit to and receive data from comparably equipped, nearby devices. That's what your cell phone does when you make a call, only it goes through the service provider's network and you get charged for the minutes you use. Infrared and Bluetooth are freebies, so to speak, because there's no transmission charge when you send or receive data, no matter how long it takes or how long you are connected.

Both have certain drawbacks: limited range (usually no more than 12' for infrared, 30' for Bluetooth), limited speed (they don't have the bandwidth of other wireless standards, such as 802.11g), plus the need to have nearby comparably equipped receiving devices.

Generally, you'll probably want a Bluetooth-enabled camphone. That's because infrared is line-of-sight technology that requires that your phone be facing the infrared device you are sending to. Bluetooth sends a radio signal, so it operates anywhere nearby and doesn't require direct line-of-sight. But the biggest difference between the two is that infrared is a far less pervasive and widespread technology. Only a handful of printers and other devices (most notably TV remote controls) are um infrared equipped. By contrast, Bluetooth seems ubiquitous—printers, wireless earphones, PDAs, home entertainment systems, printing kiosks, digital cameras, and so on. We strongly suggest voting with the majority, because you don't want to have a camphone that won't interact with most of the wireless devices and peripherals out there.

Bluetooth is a fairly well-established standard that is both easy and automatic to use. Put one live Bluetooth device near another (like a camphone to a USB Bluetooth receiver plugged into your computer), and they'll start talking to each other. You don't have to push any buttons or issue any commands for them to begin communicating or handshaking with one another. Then, follow the instructions on the phone, computer, or other device for downloading or uploading pictures. It's reasonably fast, unless you're transferring lots of data at one time. In that case, at least it's not costing you a penny in transmission time.

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