Bluetooth has long been limited to short range P2p connections or short range networks and Wifi had gained popularity for its better throughput for infrastructure toplogies and have failed to be a p2p media. This is set to change with next verisons of Bluetooth and Wifi.
Bluetooth 4.0 vs. Wi-Fi Direct
Both of these new specifications are promising learning from each others mistakes from past. Both have grown up to to make it easier for you to quickly transfer pictures, files and other data between two wireless devices such as your smartphone and laptop without the need for a dedicated device for Wi-Fi.
The Wi-Fi Direct & Bluetooth 4.0 specs confirm that they would gaurantee fast data transfers over long distances between two devices. Wi-Fi Direct promises regular Wi-Fi speeds of up to 250 Mbps, yet,easier to configure than previous ad-hoc modes.
Wi-Fi Direct devices will be able to communicate with legacy Wi-Fi devices. That means if your next laptop has a Wi-Fi Direct chip, you will be able to create a device-to-device connection with your old wireless printer or wireless digital picture frame.
Bluetooth 4.0 includes a power-saving feature called “low-energy technology.” Actually, Bluetooth 4.0 is three Bluetooth specs in one. Bluetooth 4.0 not only uses the new low-energy technology, but also relies on high-speed data transfers introduced in Bluetooth 3.0 and so-called classic Bluetooth technology found in older Bluetooth specifications. However, the worst part is that Bluetooth 4.0’s low-energy technology is not compatible with existing Bluetooth devices, which in all ways is weird.
However, the rescue is in hands of manufacturers who could incorporate low-energy technology into a newer device using Bluetooth 2.1 or Bluetooth 3.0.
Wi-Fi Direct goes up to 250Mbps, while Bluetooth 4.0 would provide up to 25Mbps (similar to Bluetooth 3.0).
Wi-Fi Direct devices can reach each other at a maximum distance of 656 feet (more than two football fields) away. So, practically, even if it is half of that, it would connect all your devices across home, no matter how big is your place.
Bluetooth 4.0’s maximum range is not dependent on the specification, but on the capabilities of the Bluetooth device. So as per manufacturers, a distance of at least 200 feet for a Bluetooth 4.0 device is something we would expect.
Both claim to be of low power, but the question is how low?
The Bluetooth 4.0 uses the new low-energy technology (PDF) feature. What this means is that it can run for a year using a coin cell battery alone. However, such power mangement is only applicable when transferring short bursts of data. And not to forget, it would work with newer devices only.
The Wi-Fi Alliance says Wi-Fi Direct devices can support the WMM Power Save program that promises to improve a device’s battery life by 15 to 40 percent over current 802.11n popular wifi standard. That means it would still consume 100mW or so.
Wifi & bluetooth have suffered poor security in the past, but this is going to change with taping inherent security. Bluetooth 4.0 uses AES 128-bit encryption, while Wi-Fi Direct relies on WPA2 security, an AES 256-bit encryption. Both look great on this.
Bluetooth 4.0 products should start hitting the market before the end of the year or early 2011. But it looks like Wi-Fi Direct may be first out the gate. The Wi-Fi Alliance recently announced that five wireless networking PC cards from Atheros, Broadcom, Intel, Ralink and Realtek are Wi-Fi Direct ready and should be available before the end of the year.
But the future has one more solid contendor: WiGig, which Offers 7 Gigabit Wireless Home Networking. Who would win?