Wireless chips that bundle WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, GPS and other functions are pretty standard for smartphones. But most notebooks and netbooks which offer Bluetooth use separate wireless cards for WiFi and Bluetooth functions. That makes it easy to offer Bluetooth as an option rather than a standard feature. But wireless chip-maker Broadcom wants to make it easier to just offer both.
Broadcom unveiled a new 40nm chip this week which handles both Bluetooth and WiFi. The company says the BCM43142 is the industry’s first 40nm combo 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth chip, and that by packing both features onto a smaller chip the company can reduce the cost and power consumption of its wireless modules.
The chip also features Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 certification.
It’s great that Broadcom is reducing energy consumption and the cost of these combo chips, but I have to wonder how important Bluetooth is for most laptop users. Honestly I’ve never used the feature on my smartphone, let alone my laptop — but at least I can see why people would want to be able to pair a Bluetooth headset with a phone often enough to include Bluetooth as a standard feature. While it’s nice to be able to use Bluetooth headphones, mice, keyboards, or other accessories with a PC, my guess is that an awful lot of people who buy Bluetooth-capable computers never use the feature.
What do you think? Should Bluetooth come standard on more machines, or should it be an optional upgrade?