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The BlackBerry PlayBooks Tricky Bluetooth Dilemma

tricky question One of the things that has been bothering me about the “Bridge” connection between the BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry Smartphones is the Bluetooth connection itself. Current BlackBerry devices, and practically all smartphones as far as I know, only allow one Bluetooth device to connect at a time. For BlackBerry users that means you will have to choose between your PlayBook bridge and other accessories like a Bluetooth headset or headphones. I use my Plantronics BackBeat Bluetooth headphones every day and I would rather not have to juggle the connection between the two. We have seen Bluetooth headphones in the past that are capable of “multipoint” connections which allow it to be paired to multiple devices at the same time but I have yet to see a smartphone with this feature. Maybe RIM plans on building it into future devices?

Personally I think what would really make the PlayBook huge would be if it could connect to your BlackBerry over Wi-Fi turning your BlackBerry into a mobile hotspot. This could perform both as a “Bridge” while also allowing the PlayBook to access the internet through the BlackBerry’s cellular connection. It kind of boggles my mind that RIM has not done this already but there may be battery life concerns compared to Bluetooth.

I am really curious to know how RIM plans on overcoming this Bluetooth dilemma. I like my Wi-Fi solution and we already have rumors of upcoming BlackBerry devices including a mobile hotspot on board. Even more so QNX has been showing off car connections allowing you to connect the PlayBook or a BlackBerry to your QNX powered car over Bluetooth which would tie up the Bluetooth connection and would not let you connect to your BlackBerry for the “Bridge.”

Anybody have any ideas on how RIM is planning to overcome this dilemma? Personally I think the mobile hotspot route is the way to go! :)

28 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I agree, there are still alot of questions surrounding how this will all work. I also didn’t know Blackberries could only connect to one device at a time. I was hoping i would be able to have my bluetooth headphones that i use for music connected at the same time with the PB and BB. I guess i could have all my music on my PB and connect directly to it via Bluetooth? hopefully thats possible.

  2. As for the wifi idea, I’m guessing you meant in future devices, i don’t think the hardware is there to implement this?

    In the meantime i guess this bluetooth route is the only viable for current devices. It’d be nice if they released a primer or a video showing how this all works, and not just snippets of answers here and there.

  3. If RIM does enable the Blackberry to be used as a hotspot for the Playbook I will be surprised. Without some sort of arrangement with wireless carriers (e.g., some sort of data plan or optional package), it is unlikely they would do it because
    RIM has a long history of going out of their way to play nice with wireless carriers.

    The current “Bridge” connection lets them provide some connectivity between the devices without alienating their partners.

  4. The thing is that Android devices already broke the water with the hotspot functionality. RIM would only be following suit and improving upon the feature with Playbook bridging. Another option is the new Wi-Fi direct standard but that is still in its infancy.

    • I dont think there’s much doubt that QNX devices will have this.. its probably part of the reason the OS was acquired, relating to what was mentioned in the article about current QNX implementations.

      The question is what can CURRENT blackberry users do, RIM is still sketchy on these details. I have a suspicion that PB WIfi users will be outta luck in terms of surfing away from a wifi connection.

    • You can pair multiple bluetooth devices on a BB as long as they don’t use the same profiles. I’ve done a BB stereo gateway and a Headset at the same time. One uses the HF profile and one uses a2dp.

  5. i dont think its going to be an issue, my torch as no issues handling 2 connections to 2 diff BT devices…

    for example, i got my inpulse watch connected to my BB with and most of the day i either have a motorola stereo headset connect or my blueant t1 rugged connected at the same time and both work flawlessly.

    Both connect and both do exact as they would if they were connected alone.

    i think its going to be ok. However i do which they had put the hardware in the BBs to support mobile hotspots. that would have been nice!

  6. Never tried any other combination of multi devices, but my bbs have always been able to bluetooth tether a dial up connection(and previously bluctrl) and use my bluetooth headset at the same time. The quality would be hoRrible on the headset any time I would load a page etc, but it would be connected to more than one device

  7. I mentioned this the other day on another post, but WiFi hotspot would be a good jump for RIM. Galaxy Tab and phones can do it, Droid X can, a jailbroke iPhone can. So if they are going to keep up, they have to start putting in some features that will be considered “useful” to the user. I still don’t like the idea of having to be bridged via a cord. WiFi – okay, bluetooth – eh, but okay, Cord – no way Jose!

  8. we will never know. RIM, SURPRISE US! Dont disappoint!

  9. I’ve also connected to more than one BT source on my Blackberry (a BT headset and my car’s sync system). But it is “tricky” in that there are sometimes drops and re-pairing. This is a real concern — not a deal-breaker for me — but something I suspect will have to emerge from the new OS, as it doesn’t seem to be stable enough in the old RIM 6.0. Overall, the way a BT headset picks up certain functions and not others is sometimes spotty, but that may be attributable to the headset firmware as well. I wonder if RIM will partner up with a headset manufacturer that it would exclusively recommend for use with handheld/Playbook? I didn’t see any mention of that at all in the accessories portions of CES.

  10. I sometimes get hiccups just paired with my bluetooth headphones + torch, but it may be the headphones, as it didn’t have issues on the previous set i had.

  11. I’m pretty sure BB’s can connect to 2 bluetooth devices at once, as long as they aren’t used for the same thing. I too have the Plantronics Backbeat bluetooth stereo headphones and if I’m not mistaken I can link a regular bluetooth device to my BB and then link only the audio portion to my Backbeat, thus enabling 2 bluetooth devices at once.

  12. 1) My Torch can handle 2 bluetooth connections. Headset & tether with my netbook.

    2) PlayBook has WIFI access…a bluetooth bridge is not necessary to be connected at all times. i.e.People who own a PlayBook but not a BlackBerry smartphone

    3) With RIM historic level of security, a mobile hotspot route could present an issue if everyone could have the opportunity to connect to your BlackBerry

    • Glad to hear you could tether AND have a headset going. I’m actually pretty unfamiliar with Bluetooth tech in general.. always thought it was just for connecting mice and not anything data heavy lol.

  13. Ever since I upgraded my Bold 9700 to OS 6 ive been able to make calls using my bluetooth headset while I my laptop is tethered to my Bold using bluetooth and browsing the web

  14. It’s not accurate to say only one device at a time, it’s only 1 device at a time using any given bluetooth profile (hands free, avrcp, a2dp, serial, etc.). There are tons of profiles that serve different purposes. They could ‘bridge’ at the same time as ‘a2dp’ for example. There are programs (like Tether) that don’t even use the BT pan, they are talking at the TCPIP level (probably BT serial) and could still BT PAN w/ a network if a BB supported BT PAN. Anyway, this won’t be a problem, they will have a way around it.

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