Belkin F8T030 Bluetooth Access Point/Print Server

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Belkin F8T030 Bluetooth Access Point/Print Server

As well as acting as a print server for USB printers, this Class 1 Bluetooth 1.1 AP allows up to seven Bluetooth enabled devices, such as PDAs and Laptops, access to your Ethernet network.

We plugged the AP into a spare port on our Ethernet switch, and had a laptop with a Class 1 Belkin USB Bluetooth adaptor sitting nearby. When the device was powered up, it found our DHCP server and accepted an IP address, DNS and domain information. We then set up the Bluetooth adaptor in the laptop, and picked up an IP address from the AP, although in a different subnet.

We were then able to establish a PPP connection between the Bluetooth and LAN. However, there was no support for NetBIOS, so access between LAN resources and Bluetooth was via IP addresses, not My Network Places -- a pain in the arse.

Never ones to read manuals, we stumbled blindly into the interface. From there, we could permanently assign an IP address, change the host name and set an access password, if so desired.

As the AP had two external USB host ports, we could attach a printer or two. Only one of these ports was available for printing requirements on the wired LAN, but Bluetooth clients can print to both.

We did some performance testing with the AIDA32 benchmark utility between the Bluetooth adaptor and the wired LAN. The device managed an average bandwidth of 21.4Kb/s, which although not blistering, was acceptable in terms of Bluetooth performance.

Even over a distance of around 25 metres, with a few walls in between, the connection was maintained, but performance dropped to an average of 3.8Kb/s. Although Class 1 devices are rated to 100 metres, connection was lost altogether after around 35 metres. The firmware is still version 1.0, so there may be some enhancements and refinements over time. A simple to use and reasonably priced Bluetooth solution and the print server is a definite bonus.

Belkin F8T030 Bluetooth Access Point/Print Server
Verdict
As well as acting as a print server for USB printers, this Class 1 Bluetooth 1.1 AP allows up to seven Bluetooth enabled devices, such as PDAs and Laptops, access to your Ethernet network.
Specs
$615
Bluetooth Compliance: v1.1; Class 1; NAT, DHCP; Max 723Kb/s up, 56Kb/s down; Point-to-Multipoint, up to seven slaves; Internal antenna; 100m radius.
This review appeared in the November, 2003 issue of Atomic Magazine
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