Some may find it funny. Some may find it
sad. Some may not care at all. But now that we are faced with the reality that
the IrDA port's life is nearing its end, should we just go with the flow and let
the device manufacturer dictate what we should have or shouldn't have?
The closest rival of the IrDA port is Bluetooth. But even Bluetooth doesn't come
close enough to the simplicity and robustness of the Infrared system of
connecting devices. I'm sure a lot of you out there have experienced connecting
two devices over both systems - Infrared and Bluetooth. While Bluetooth is
definitely the more advanced of the two systems, it still pales in comparison in
the ease of use and practicality of Infrared.
HTC announced their plans of dropping the IrDA port from their future devices as Peter Chou, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of HTC
said "HTC is also removing some functions from its mobiles. The company has
already phased infrared out of some of its latest mobile phones, and expects to
continue to remove the function since it is no longer a necessity."
Does this mean that we will have to limit ourselves to beaming files and
contacts via Bluetooth because HTC says so? I did an article on this a while
back to highlight the failure of Bluetooth to function correctly in a given
situation... a situation which may well be a common one now.
I also compared the time it takes to beam a contact from one device to another.
With both Windows Mobile devices set to automatically receive beams, I sent a
contact via Infrared and was successful in sending the particular contact in
about 7 seconds. I then set both devices to have Bluetooth on and the recipient
phone ready to accept beams and in discoverable mode. From the time I hit the
send button to the time the recipient phone sounded a beep to confirm receipt of
the business card, it took about 25 seconds. Provided that the unit doesn't have
Infrared, it would probably shave off no more than 5 seconds from the total
time. 20 seconds for Bluetooth is still too long compared to the 7 seconds it
takes for an Infrared connection to transfer the business card.
Another problem, as stated in my previous article on Bluetooth and Infrared is
the time it takes to find the recipient when you have more than a handful of
active Bluetooth users in a given area. Bluetooth generally, has a range of
about 10 meters. If you had more than 6 users in a given 10 meter radius area,
it would take several seconds to first detect each of the active Bluetooth
device, and process their friendly names. The more devices, the longer it takes,
and the more confusing it gets. You will now have to sort out the detected
devices before you send out your information. I know none of you would want to
divulge your contact details to some anonymous Bluetooth user.
Infrared on the other hand has a far more limited range and is even made better
by the concept of the devices requiring a line-of-sight in order to begin
communication. This immediately isolates your recipient physically which is what
you are after when beaming out a business card or a small file.
There is a difference between linking and beaming. Infrared is still the winner
when it comes to beaming. While linking, as in the case of ActiveSync over
Bluetooth, or wireless printing over Bluetooth, is still the domain of the
newcomer (relatively) which is Bluetooth.
Bluetooth will remain a major part of mobile communications, killing it
prematurely and replacing it with a faulty solution will be a burden which us
mobile device users will have to suffer. Wait until Bluetooth matures to a more
practical solution, and only then should we bid the IrDA port farewell.
Mabuhay! ~ Carlo