Log in

View Full Version : Anycom Bluetooth CompactFlash Card Review

Jason Dunn
03-29-2002, 10:21 PM
<span><b>Anycom Bluetooth CompactFlash Card Review</b></span><br /><i>Bluetooth frustrations are not mitigated by nice packaging</i><br /><br />I received one of these cards yesterday, so I'm going to do a new type of review - a "stream of consciousness" review where I type this post as I'm setting up the card and using it. This might be a colossal failure, or it may usher in a whole new world of online reviews. ;-)<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/anycomcf.jpg" /><br /><br /><span><b>Device Requirements</b></span><br />It will work in any Pocket PC that accepts Type 1 CompactFlash cards.<br /><br /><span><b>In Brief</b></span><br />Either I'm doing something wrong, or Bluetooth is a very immature technology that is difficult to understand and implement. The Anycom Bluetooth card showed much promise in the beginning, but it quickly became my arch nemesis.<br /><br /><span><b>Where to Buy</b></span><br />The card can be <a href="http://www.anycom.com/store/index.html">purchased online from Anycom for $159 US</a>.<br /><br /><span><b>Getting Started</b></span><br />Packaging was nice, although there's no mention of XP on the box. The manuals are entitled "Windows 98 User Guide" and "Windows 2000 User Guide". What does Joe user who has XP do? He gets confused and calls tech support for help, which costs Anycom money. Solution: put a card in the box that says "Hey XP users, you can use the Windows 2000 User Guide without any problems". Problem solved!<br /><br />Next up, we plug the card into the PC card adaptor they provide (nice touch Anycom!) and plug into my XP Pro laptop. Driver disk goes in, and I’m prompted to select from a list of four drivers – all four are nearly identical, and none are digitally signed for XP. Another phone call to tech support from Joe User. After the driver install, Windows XP tells me that the device is ready to use. Here we go!<br /><br /><span><b>Wherefor Art Thou Bluetooth?</b></span><br />I’ve sent my iPAQ 3870 searching for Bluetooth device in the area…none found. Not a good sign! Back to the instruction book – ah yes, I have to install the Bluetooth software. Unlike 802.11b, XP doesn’t have built-in support for Bluetooth so the card can’t chatter to the OS until I install it. The software tells me that I now have COM4 through COM7 as “virtual serial ports” – cool, but why emulate such retro technology? Next it asks me if I want to install “RedMon redirection port monitor”. I can’t find any mention of this software in the instruction book, and the software install doesn’t give me any explanation as to what this software does. Being the over-eager computer user that I am, I’ll install it. <br /><br />The Readme file is next, and curiously the default radio button is set to know. I read it anyway, and discover that ActiveSync doesn’t work via Bluetooth on Windows 9x, the client sometimes fails to discover the server, some legacy applications can’t see the virtual COM ports, and only one process at a time may use the Bluetooth stack. Ah, the joys of using 1st generation technology. Pet peeve: applications that ask me to restart my PC. More often than not, it’s not necessary under 2000/XP, but the app assumes I’m running 9x and reboots anyway.<br /><br /><span><b>The Lumps of Learning</b></span><br />Bluetooth is a technology I have basically no experience with, so this is quite interesting for me – I have no basis of knowledge as to how this is supposed to work. On the laptop with the Anycom card, I started up the wizard and selected “Pairing”. Seems like a logical choice to connect to my iPAQ. It goes into a mode where it’s waiting for “incoming pairing requests”. On the iPAQ, I’ve found the Anycom card, and I’m requesting a list of services from the Anycom card. Now back on the laptop it asks me to enter the PIN code to connect to the iPAQ – I’ve never set a PIN code on the iPAQ. Then the iPAQ asks for the PIN code of the Anycom card – ditto, I haven’t created one. I enter a number for both, and while the iPAQ says it failed to create a connection, the laptop reports a successful bonding with the iPAQ. But what does that mean exactly?<br /><br />Let’s try something different – I want to have my iPAQ connect to my laptop via Bluetooth and get a ‘net connection over the 802.11b card my laptop has. My first attempt at using the LAN Access wizard didn’t work very well – the iPAQ is reporting there are no devices in the area to connect with. I’ve double-checked that the Bluetooth card is in discoverable mode, so it should work. Playing a hunch, I eject the 802.11b card and try searching again from the iPAQ – no dice, they still can’t see each other. The Anycom card has a light on the top, but it never seems to come on at all – that’s a bit disconcerting.<br /><br />After some more fiddling, I can get the Anycom card to see the iPAQ, and even make a bond with it. I’m trying to get the LAN associated on COM5 with the iPAQ – I can discover it (twice, with a different service – “OBEX File Transfer” and “Serial Port”). Curiously, I can select the device, but NEXT is greyed out – I can’t proceed. Ah yes, this function must be to connect the Anycom card to a Bluetooth LAN Access Point. Why doesn’t this wizard have an explanation of what each function is?<br /><br />Ok, here we are three hours later, and after much fiddling and manual reading, and I can’t seem to get anything to work properly. The Anycom card can see the iPAQ, but the iPAQ can no longer see the Anycom card. I don't think the Anycom card is at fault, but I can't be sure. I'll try using the Anycom card in my Jornada to see if I can get the two Pocket PCs to talk to each other and perhaps do a second part to this article.<br /><br /><b><span>Conclusion</span></b><br />The bottom line for me here is that if Bluetooth wants to be taken seriously, it needs to make more sense. There should be a more involved setup wizard, something that asks the user what they want to do. The Bluetooth wizard should communicate what is possible, not just give a few icons. And above all, Bluetooth should work - that seems to be it's biggest hurdle at the moment.<br /><br />I'm very much open to hearing from other Anycom Bluetooth CF users who have gotten it to work and can give me some suggestions and things to try. I'm used to succeeding with technology on the first try, so perhaps I'm spoiled! :-)

Steven Cedrone
03-29-2002, 11:21 PM
Maybe I'm a bit naive....

Bluetooths' promise was the elimination of cabling between peripherals and the "box" (ie. keyboard, mouse, etc.). I would tend to think this should be seamless (well, at least after setting up your "PAN")......

Can you get access to any other Bluetooth cards for comparison (Socket)?

Maybe it's implementation......

I have a socket card I can send you if you promise to send it back! :D

03-29-2002, 11:33 PM
I am on the same path, but from both a developer and user point of view. So far, I have tested various pieces of hardware and nothing really works well. By the end of next week I should have more equipment to test, and will post my findings here. Overall I am very disappointed with bluetooth. It appears that the hardware spec is reasonably stable and complete, but the software and developer support for it is in a state of utter chaos.


Master O'Mayhem
03-30-2002, 12:08 AM
Hey Jason,

I have had the luxury of being able to test multiple types of Bluetooth devices and have found quirks in each of them. Its funny but some BT devices do not play nicely iwith each other. here is a list of devices that i have tested:

IBM A30P Laptop with built in BT and WIFI running WINXP PRO
IBM PCMCIA Bluetooth Card
Socket BT CF card
IPAQ 3870
HP 995C Printer
Ericsson T39m
Ericsson T68
Ericsson HBH-10, HBH-20 Headsets
Motorola (Oreo) headset
Anycom CF, PCMCIA and Printer Module

I will start with my IPAQ 3870 and what i can succesfully connect it to. What i mean by sucessfully is that I can Pair or bond the devices and bring up services on each device like dial up networking or Serial ports.

IPAQ 3870:
IBM A30p (Active sync YES)
IBM PCMCIA card in anothe laptop (Activesync YES)
Ericsson T68 - T39m
Jornada 568 with Socket BT card
HP 995c printer

With these i also use software such as Sunnysoft GSM manager or Running voice. (BTW I really Liek Sunnysoft and Running voice... they rock over BT)

But to be honest with you, At the time I tested the Anycom products, I noticed interoperabilty problems with other BT devices ( note... this may have changed with newer software and i know the printer module needs a firmware upgrade per the people from Anycom. This was what the Anycom people told me)

I agree with Jason that the documentation is very scarce and the knowledge must be obtained in newsgroups or word of mouth or someone who has used these product together.

I have found that out of all the produts listed above the easiest to set up is the Socket BT card with your BT phone and other devices.

Bluetooth is a nice an usable solution if you have the right combinations working together. I still think IMHO that Bluetooth will be around for some tme and it will be more prevalent in the near future.

03-30-2002, 12:39 AM
I also started with a cf bt card from Socket which worked fine with my old iPAQ 3670 and Ericsson R520 bt phone, but they still haven't delivered BT windows drivers. Didn't want to take a chance with the Anycom CF card after reading various posts. I gave up waiting for Socket and tried the IBM (Motoroloa) pcmcia card and couldn't get it to work for active synching. Gave up, sent it back and purchased an IBM Ultraport BT module for my Windows 2000 Thinkpad T22 work laptop. This works great. Activesynch works fine as do lan connections and serial connection services. When the laptop is connected I am able to browse the internet at either broadband or dialup speed depending on the connection I'm using at the time. I now have an Ericsson T68 phone with Voicestream GSM/GPRS services, and can also use either my new 3870 or the laptop wirelessly via either BT dialup to the phone at either speed. The phone has a data counter which helps me manage the monthly GPRS data cost. It was a real pain to get to this point but it was worth it. Next step for me will probably eventually be to wait for a CDMA 1XRTT BT phone and then switch to the higher speed network (unless Voicestream is able to increase data speeds beyond the GPRS 40 to 50kbps I get now).

Jason Dunn
03-30-2002, 12:54 AM
People, voting is free! Come on, vote! ;-)

I've also realized that "stream of consciouness" reviews only work with products that aren't as complicated as this one. Sorry for the rough read! ;-)

03-30-2002, 01:55 AM
I recieved my Anycom BT CF card last week. Trying to connect to desktop (vis USB
BT adaptor) and no success. After many hours reading online post and manuels, I'm
ready to give up. Been e-mailing a guy named Wilson (at Anycom), but after a few days he gave up on me?!?! If anyone gets theres working please show me the way>>>>>>>>>>>>
Thanks for this site,
Anthony ([email protected])

03-30-2002, 05:48 AM
I've had an Anycom CF BT card since they were first released - originally I was using it in my 3670 to talk to my Ericsson T39 for dialup. At that stage some funky workarounds were needed to get the Anycom card to work in my Win2000 laptop...

Now I have a 3870, and the Anycom drivers for Win2000 work for me just fine. I can Activesync with my 3870 no problem, though I wish the Anycom drivers would allow more than 1 app to use the stack... I can also dialup via GPRS on my T39 from either my Laptop or my 3870.

I'll agree that the setup process could be a lot clearer, but now that everything is setup it works seamlessly. Of course I've never tried using the Anycom card on XP...

03-30-2002, 11:09 AM
I recieved my Anycom BT CF card last week. Trying to connect to desktop (vis USB
BT adaptor) and no success. After many hours reading online post and manuels, I'm
ready to give up.

buy 3870 or abandon hope of using BT CF card for activesync.
bt cf card vendors are too stupid to make drivers cooperating with activesync, compaq is not.

03-30-2002, 11:39 AM
I was going to buy a Socket CF card, I'm not to sure now. Anyone give me any advice ?

03-30-2002, 11:53 AM
I was going to buy a Socket CF card, I'm not to sure now. Anyone give me any advice ?

I had Socket Bluetooth CF card but I sold it to a guy who is using it only for connecting to GPRS phone and is happy. But if you want to use ActiveSync or anything more beyond connection to cell phone: don't buy it. If connecting to cell phone is everything you need it can be good 4 U.

Also: support of "socket comm. company" just plainly sucks.

03-30-2002, 12:53 PM
This seems typical of Bluetooth products at the moment. They all seem nice enough on their own but interoperability with anything other than a phone is poor as most of the manufacturers only had phones to connect to while developing. Obviously interoperability is sort of the whole point with Bluetooth.

Can't see things being really plug and plag until Bluetooth is supported natively in the OS, maybe XP SP1 (later this year?) and CE.NET. Still think Bluetooth will be an excellent replacement for IR and cables in a year or so.

Can't comment on Anycom but I've been trying to connect my Socket CF card and TDK PCMCIA. Whilst Socket are a bit slow, I'm on their Beta program and they are helpful (including trying to sort out upgrading the firmware in my card). They're working on ActiveSync over BT (complicated by MS's non-standard use of serial protocols) and LAN access over BT (making the 802.11 / BT issue even more confusing!) and this works with some cards (but not TDK yet).

[oswald808 - Jornada 568, Socket BT and T68 work fine]

:( Still a bit bleeding edge at the moment.


03-30-2002, 01:17 PM
Still think Bluetooth will be an excellent replacement for IR and cables in a year or so.

People, you have to realize one more thing: Bluetooth is very slow in comparison with WLAN (aka Wi-Fi) and with comparison with wireful USB. Those who can synchronize with Bluetooth are dissapointed because of it.

Panasonic showed at CeBIT secure digital card of size 512 MB but transfering such amounts of files over Bluetooth is impractically slow. Also Bluetooth LAN access points are extremly expensive.

So please, please: don't think of Bluetooth as cure for all problems, it is too slow.

Bluetooth is good only for 1 thing: connecting PDA with cell phone. Nothing more.

03-30-2002, 02:42 PM
Well, tryed to get BT card to work all night. After reading the post, I had a revalation that this is NOT going to work. I guess I will send it back on monday....
Jason, let me know if you had any luck?!?!
Anthony ([email protected])

03-30-2002, 02:57 PM
Jason, I hope many of the BT card manufacturers read your review, as it's an excellent way for them to find out what is going on from the "user" point of view with the technology. I've mentioned several times on my site that BT needs to be much more transparent to the user.

I'm not sure what documentation came with your card, but the PDF manual available on the Anycom site is one of the better ones I've seen for using the features of the card, and it explains things fairly well. At this point, Bluetooth is simply not user-friendly and it pays to read as much documentation as you can get your hands on. Interoperability and user-friendliness are the two key points BT Manufacturers need to work on, and from the developer lists I read, they are trying to work this out. Hopefully in the next 4-5 months, this will be less of an issue. Another big help will be when Microsoft releases native BT support in the XP update this summer.

Having said that, we've found the Anycom card to work well when using the LAN Access Profile with our Access Point, printing with the Anycom Printer Module, and file sharing. I'm not sure what your problems were on file sharing. I believe the latest update for Bluetooth on the iPAQ supposedly fixed some file sharing profile problems, so it may be the problem was on the iPAQ BT stack, and you didn't have the latest update installed.

I do take exception with your statement of Bluetooth's serial port emulation as "retro technology". Bluetooth uses the technology because it makes it much easier to communicate with printers, act as a modem, transfer PIM information, etc. and with less overhead. As I pointed out in my review of the Anycom BT Printer Module, printing via a virtual serial port was faster than using 802.11b.

Sorry you had a frustraiting experience (been there), but I think as manufacturers iron out these problems BT will be a very viable and useful technology by the end of the year.

03-31-2002, 02:14 AM
I'm not sure what your problems were on file sharing. I believe the latest update for Bluetooth on the iPAQ supposedly fixed some file sharing profile problems, so it may be the problem was on the iPAQ BT stack, and you didn't have the latest update installed.

The problem with the update is that it ONLY supports the Ipaq BT Jacket or Ipaq 3870.
What about us Ipaq 3650 users. I guess we are out of luck....... I think they want us to
buy their Ipaq jacket....not good?!?!?!
Thanks for the info...........Anthony

03-31-2002, 05:32 AM
I have been reviewing the SOcket card for my site during CEBIT (sorry, it's in Hebrew).

I know from them that they will release a free upgrade in April that will support many new profiles, among them ActiveSync with the desktop and connection to BT access points in LAN mode (until now they supported only dialup mode for AP).

So this will make their card worth it.

03-31-2002, 12:15 PM
I have been reviewing the SOcket card for my site during CEBIT (sorry, it's in Hebrew).

I know from them that they will release a free upgrade in April that will support many new profiles, among them ActiveSync with the desktop and connection to BT access points in LAN mode (until now they supported only dialup mode for AP).

So this will make their card worth it.

I don't believe this company of socket communications, they cheated on me several times, I mean their totally incompetent employees from support, and I will not believe until I will see that they deliver it!

Apart from ActiveSync: socket card is only Bluetooth 1.0b compatible while majority of Bluetooth hardware is now Bluetooth 1.1 compatible. As far as I know their firmware on the card is not updateable.

I sincerely advice you not to buy anything from this company.

Greetings to Israel, I wish you peace! (I am Polish)

04-01-2002, 07:28 PM
When will you ever admit you had problems because you didn't read the product data sheet? Seems you never were taught manners in your schooling, and continue to spead basically vicious untruths whever you show up to add your $0.02 .....

Jason Dunn
04-01-2002, 11:06 PM

Sad to see that this isn't the only web site where his bad attitude "flourishes". :evil:

04-02-2002, 04:51 AM
Jason, first off, thanks for the review. I really liked the way you reviewed the card as you were trying to set it up. Great idea!
Second, I think you folks and all the users here that are kind enough to share information and and try to help one another problem solve are all to be HIGHLY COMMENDED! Kudos!
Third, about Bluetooth. It's my own personal opinion that at this point in time, companies are using early adapters of Bluetooth as beta testers. Thats my biggest beef. I will lay the blame at the doorstep of the Bluetooth SIG for that. If these companies want Bluetooth to succeed as a technology, they ALL better get their sh.. act together to get these products compatible with one another. There are just way too many compatibility issues. If the techies are having problems with it, how in the world will the common Joe, such as myself, be able to figure out how to make it work? I know! I come here to get my answers! ; )
Fourth, JPZR? Whatever you do, don't call WLAN WiFi with him in the room. lol!

06-13-2002, 01:01 AM
Well my experience with Bluetooth has been good over all. Back in Jan I puchased my 3870. A few days later I went to my local CompUSA to puchase a Bluetooth Card for my Laptop. First one was the HP (made by 3Com) did not support ActiveSync connection, next was Toshiba again, did not support ActiveSync. Then I called Compaq and asked what does it work with? The answer was Anycom cards. So I puchased the PC-2000 card. It worked but it took so work on my part to make it work.

I have to agree I think the hardware (Bluetooth) seems to work fine. But the software (Anycom) sucks!

Since then I have purchased a T68m phone and a Bluetooth headset. Both work great! Easy to setup and I have never had any problems the same is true with the T68 to my 3870 works great no problems.

If the developers will add a wizard like somebody said that would help the mases come over to the blue side.

Just my thoughts