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GADGETS 101: The Tech That Frees Us From Wires

Making things easier for geeks and non-geeks alike
by Neps Firmalan | Oct 29, 2013
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If there's one thing we love about new gadgets, it's the fact that they free us from god-awful wires. Why do we like that? Two word: iwas buhol. Also, going wireless is way more convenient.

One thing that's overlooked, however, is the tech that enables us to go wireless. We're sure you've heard of terms like Wi-Fi, infrared, and 4G, things that the bibo salesman might include in his sales talk. But do you really know what these mean and what they do aside from helping us say "Screw you!" to wires?

With this hanging over our heads, we decided to do a little bit of research. Get to know the different kinds of wireless tech a little better below, as well as the differences they have from each other.

1) Bluetooth

wireless tech 101: bluetoothBluetooth headsets: Tricking others into thinking you're crazy and talking to yourself

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Key ingredient: Low-power radio waves

Usually found in: Mobile devices (tablets, smartphones, laptops), and computer peripherals (mice, keyboards, headphones).

What it is: Bluetooth is a transmission tool for exchanging info over short distances. It's a low-energy means of communication, which means it doesn't use much battery power. It can also be used to create a small network, and is capable of inter-connecting up to eight devices simultaneously.

There are a couple of big drawbacks, however, and the first one is speed. Since it's slower (up to 1Mbps) than other popular wireless options (like Wi-Fi), the amount of info that can be transmitted is limited to small chunks (e.g. songs, images). The second one is distance. Typically, Bluetooth has a limited range of a few feet to about 10 meters.

2) Infrared

wireless tech 101: infrared
One of those things that always seems to magically disappear

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Key ingredient: Infrared radiation

Usually found in: Older handsets, gadget assistants such as TV remote controls

What is it: Infrared uses infrared radiation to transfer information between two devices. In gadgets, an LED (light-emitting diode) emits an infrared beam. A receiver on another device picks it up and decodes it to reveal a set of info necessary for completing a certain task. For handsets, this might account to sending the contact card of crush. For a remote control, it can be a command to change channels.

Since infrared tech uses a beam of light, it cannot be used when something's blocking the way, like when your kuya teases you by standing in front of the TV. However, this also ensures that it cannot affect other devices in another room. Infrared also requires a consistent "line of sight" between two devices and is only used to transfer small bits of information.

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NEXT: Letting holler digitally since the '90s

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