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What is a Bluetooth® PCMCIA Card?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Bluetooth® PCMCIA card (or PC Card) is a product that enables a laptop computer to wirelessly communicate with other Bluetooth®-enabled devices. Bluetooth is a technology used for networking personal devices over short distances of up to 30 feet (~10 meters). Using a Bluetooth® card enables one to print or send a fax, for example, without physically connecting the laptop to the printer or fax machine. A Bluetooth® card can also be used to wirelessly transfer files to a desktop computer or communicate with a cell phone or personal digital assistant (PDA).

PCMCIA stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, named after the group that created the standard for this credit-card-sized slot that accommodates products made to enhance a laptop’s capabilities. The PCMCIA slot serves the same purpose as a desktop’s motherboard ports, giving mobile computers options for incorporating additional hardware capabilities.

If a laptop does not have Bluetooth® built in, a Bluetooth® PC Card is the answer. The card will create a Personal Area Network (PAN) for up to seven Bluetooth® devices to “jump on to,” allowing interoperability between all products present on the network.

There are many advantages to using Bluetooth®. Aside from printing and sending faxes without being tied to the printer or fax machine, you can quickly exchange files or programs between two or more computers. If you have a PDA, you can synchronize data or update files. You can even communicate with your cell phone. The only requirement is that the other devices also be Bluetooth®-enabled.

Bluetooth® is commonly built into newer handheld electronics, but check your devices to see which have Bluetooth® support. For office machines like printers, faxes and scanners, you might have to purchase a Bluetooth® dongle for the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port of the machine. If the device doesn’t have a USB port, Bluetooth® adapters are also available to use in serial or parallel ports, though these adapters are more expensive because there are fewer manufactured.

The PCMCIA slot has evolved over time from a Type I slot, to Type II and Type III, as have PC Cards. Be sure to pick a Bluetooth® PC Card type that fits your laptop’s slot. If you have the newest standard it can accommodate any type of PC Card.

Bluetooth® personal networks provide an effortless means of instant communication between electronics in the home or office without having to spend time learning the ins and outs of networking. Just install the Bluetooth® PC Card and allow it to find other devices within range. You’ll soon wonder how you ever got along without it.

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