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Microtune Cuts PC Cables

Chipset-maker Microtune has introduced a Bluetooth-based technology, called CableFree USB, designed to cut back on the number of PC to peripheral wires.

The company has manufactured a chipset that utilizes the two plugs found on common peripheral cables, the USB part that hooks to a PC and the connector that goes to the peripheral. However, instead of using a cable to transfer data between the two devices, the Microtune technology creates a Bluetooth wireless network. The devices require no user set up, which should help ease consumer worries over using the relatively new Bluetooth technology, said Richard Barrett, Microtune’s product marketing director.

Barrett added that the company is prepared to deliver the chipset under OEM deals in two formats. As a complete set that just needs branding by another party and a chipset for embedding in a separately designed casing.

The first models use USB 1.1, but a USB 2.0 version is under development.

The first chipset, the MT0760F-CF, is for USB printers. Two versions started shipping last week, one with a 30-foot range and another with a 100-foot range. Retail pricing for the end product should be under $100.

Because the data transfer rate for USB 1.1 is only 140Kbps, Barrett said, these products are best suited for people who print text and not graphics. This situation will be alleviated with the 2.0 version, which will have a 720Kbps-transfer rate.

Later this year CableFree USB chipsets for scanners, PDAs and digital cameras should be available.