Turn Your Computer into a Speakerphone





Turn Your Computer into a Speakerphone

If you have a BlackBerry that supports Bluetooth, use your computer as a poor-man's headset.

Up until fairly recently, RIM didn't make a BlackBerry device that supported Bluetooth, even as it is becoming a standard feature of other smart phones. That all changed when RIM released the 7290. The BlackBerry 7290 as well as the 7100 series devices have built-in Bluetooth, and you can expect future devices to include support for the protocol as well.

Given all the data synchronization capabilities of the BlackBerry, you'd expect to be able to do lots of things with the Bluetooth adapter on the devices—but as of now, the capabilities are rather limited. You can't tether a laptop to share its data connection using Bluetooth—you have to cradle the device for that [Hack #9]. However, you can use a Bluetooth headset so you don't have to deal with the cord on your earpiece—or worse, hold that oddly shaped 7290 to your ear to talk on the phone. The fancy Bluetooth headsets are plentiful but still somewhat costly. If you've purchased a computer recently, there's a decent chance it already has Bluetooth built in. If not, you can purchase a Bluetooth adapter for a reasonable price that allows you to do a whole host of things with computer peripherals, including acting as a headset for your BlackBerry!

Some older Bluetooth adapters made for PCs have limited Bluetooth support. Be sure that the adapter you are buying supports the Bluetooth Headset Profile. Most, if not all, Bluetooth 1.1–compliant adapters should do the trick.


Wait, you say, isn't the goal to be more mobile—why would I want to use my computer as a speakerphone? And here comes the standard hacker's response: "Because you can!"

Install a Bluetooth Adapter

You'll need a Bluetooth adapter with the popular WIDCOMM chipset and software. Other chipsets may or may not work. I bought a Kensington Bluetooth USB Adapter from my local electronics store that came with the WIDCOMM software. You'll need to install the software on your Windows XP computer before inserting the USB adapter.

After installing the adapter, you'll find a new icon on your desktop called "My Bluetooth Places" as well as a Bluetooth logo on your task bar, as shown in Figure.

The Bluetooth icon on the task bar


Pair with Your BlackBerry

By default, the Bluetooth adapter on your BlackBerry is disabled. You'll need to enable and set its status to "discoverable" so that other Bluetooth adapters within range will be able to see it. On your device, go to the Options program and go to Bluetooth. Use the trackwheel to bring up the menu and choose Enable Bluetooth. After a few seconds, your device will display a dialog saying it has been enabled, and you'll return to the Bluetooth screen with a list of Paired Devices. Use the trackwheel to select Options from the menu. You'll need to change the Discoverable status to Yes. Optionally, you can change the Device Name that your device will advertise itself as. Click Save from the trackwheel menu.

Once you've enabled Bluetooth on your device, go back to your desktop computer and right-click on the Bluetooth task bar icon and go to Bluetooth Setup Wizard. This brings up a wizard (see Figure) that will assist in discovering Bluetooth-enabled devices and configuring them.

The Bluetooth Setup Wizard


Choose the "I know the service I want to use and I want to find a Bluetooth device that provides that service" option and click Next. Scroll down through the services that your adapter is capable of using to the Audio Gateway option. Select it and click Next, as shown in Figure.

The Audio Gateway option


If you've configured your device correctly, you should see your BlackBerry along with any other Bluetooth-enabled devices within range of your adapter (see Figure)

Bluetooth-enabled devices within range


Select your device and click Next. Now check your BlackBerry—it should have detected that your computer initiated a connection with your device. There will be a dialog on your device asking for a passkey. Enter a numeric passkey and don't forget it—you will need to enter it again on your computer. After you enter the passkey on your device, Windows will prompt you that a device is attempting to pair with your computer. Click on the balloon icon and a dialog will appear that allows you to enter your passkey and complete the pairing of the two Bluetooth adapters. Make sure that the "Start the connection" option is selected and click Finish. Right after you click Finish, you will be prompted on your BlackBerry that your computer is initiating a connection. Choose Yes to accept the connection.

You should be able to use your computer's speakers and microphone as a headset for your device. The LED on the 7100 series devices will flash a nice blue glow when you're connected with Bluetooth, but the 7290 will give no outward indication that you're connected other than a listing of your computer in the Bluetooth section of your Options. To disconnect the session, either take your device out of the computer's range (just a few meters) or use the trackwheel to choose Disconnect from the trackwheel menu in your BlackBerry's Bluetooth section of Options.


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