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Dongles pricey and pointless, says Bluetooth SIG

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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group reckons you can save 40 per cent on your phone bill by ditching your 3G dongle and using a Bluetooth connection instead.

That figure is based on the cost of setting up a separate mobile contract for a 3G dongle, compared to adding a decent data allocation to one's existing mobile account, it also assumes that both the handset and computer are already Bluetooth-enabled. The SIG reckons punters are buying dongles without realising they've already got the technology necessary in their pockets.

Thus the launch of "Ditch the Dongle", which is supposed to come with a nice site to help users get their handset configured to work with a laptop. Unfortunately we can't seem to find the instructions, and keep getting greeted by mysterious password screens and unnavigable menus - somewhat reminiscent of early Bluetooth implementations.

We've asked for directions from the SIG, but have yet to hear back.

Having said that, we've largely managed to use Bluetooth tethering without additional instruction: seamlessly connecting various laptops to the internet without taking a handset from its pouch. But when it doesn't work it can be intensely frustrating, and it doesn't take many such experiences before one starts packing a cable.

For some users the dongle is an extension of carrying two handsets - one for work and one for personal use - to simplify billing and expenses, but something sticking out from the side of a laptop is inelegant to say the least, and connecting via a mobile phone makes more sense.

That's assuming your phone is charged well enough for a few hours' Bluetooth and 3G - otherwise you might want to stick with the dongle no matter what the Bluetooth SIG is saying. ®

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