RE: Versatility is the watchword of the WAP phone

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From: Mark Day (
Date: Tue Feb 29 2000 - 11:32:26 PST

> The best comparison with WAP I can think of is with IRDA - fills a
> niche, built into everything for a while until they discovered that
> no-one actually uses it because it's just so inconvenient. Then 802.11
> comes along and suddenly IRDA is history - you know the age of a
> laptop from just hearing that it has IRDA built in.

I think the real lesson from IrDA is that it's not enough to have a good
hardware story, you have to have the software worked out too. Until
recently, the only people I knew who used IrDA developed either IR hardware
or related software. It used to take real devotion to get past the device
conflicts, absence of drivers, and general lack of Windows support for IR.
But recently (I think Win98 was the crucial change) it's gotten so that you
can reasonably assume that laptops of recent manufacture will actually be
able to talk via IrDA, and via a process that mortals can handle.

I know it was a big win for me a couple of months ago -- I was out of the
office, meeting with our CTO, and it turned out he needed a copy of a
PowerPoint file that was on my laptop. Neither of us had any additional
networking hardware (we were both in travel-and-present mode) but it was
pretty painless to transfer it via the IR ports. Our next-best bet probably
was for me to email it to him via a dial-up connection, which would have
been horribly slow for both of us.

Are there actually manufacturers who've stopped putting IrDA ports on
laptops? Seems pretty dumb, they're really cheap. My laptop (Sony Vaio
Z505RX) isn't the absolutely latest thing, but it's no piece of ancient
history yet either.


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