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An ExpressCard is the next generation PC Card for laptop and notebook computers, providing additional functionality to mobile computers through an insertable module. A Bluetooth® ExpressCard adds Bluetooth® capability to a laptop, enabling one to create a wireless personal area network (PAN) through which personal devices can become interoperable.
Laptop and notebook computers have what was formerly known as a PCMCIA slot, later referred to as a PC Card slot. This slot accommodates modules that resemble very thick credit cards. A PC Card slips into this slot to provide additional features that were not built into the computer. A modem, Ethernet adapter, USB port or WiFi card are just a few examples of products that were manufactured to take advantage of the PC Card slot.
The ExpressCard slot is the newer standard, replacing the PC Card slot. PC Cards cannot be used in an ExpressCard slot, nor is the reverse possible. The technologies are incompatible. ExpressCard slots are featured on both IMB PC and Apple® mobile computers.
Like PC Cards, ExpressCards can be made for various functions. The Bluetooth® ExpressCard opens the laptop to personal networking. For example, Bluetooth® can be used to pass files between a laptop and desktop, to sync data between a laptop and a personal digital assistant (PDA), to send print jobs to a nearby printer, or to pass ringtones or wallpaper to a cell phone.
Bluetooth® technology uses radio frequency (RF) waves with low-power requirements in deference to many personal devices that are battery powered. Once your Bluetooth® ExpressCard creates a PAN, any Bluetooth®-enabled device within about 30 feet (~10 meters) can jump on to the network to interoperate with other Bluetooth® devices.
There are two widths of ExpressCard slots, the ExpressCard/34 (34mm wide) and ExpressCard/54 (54mm wide). An ExpressCard/34 will fit in either size slot, but the wider card will not work in the narrower slot. If you own a laptop with a 34mm slot, be sure to get a Bluetooth® ExpressCard/34. ExpressCards are generally supported by all current, popular operating systems, including Linux, but check for drivers if using a Linux flavor.
If you would like to add Bluetooth® capability to a desktop or other device, Bluetooth® adapters are readily available in the form of USB keys. These little adapters resemble memory sticks and will instantly make any device with a USB port Bluetooth®-enabled.
Bluetooth® networks are highly convenient because they are so easy to create, providing an effortless way to wirelessly link electronic gadgets that can share information over short distances. Once you have a Bluetooth® ExpressCard you will likely wonder how you got along without it.