Were proud to announce that Airconsole 2.0 is finally ready. The next version of our popular Serial over WIFI adaptor now does Serial over WIFI and Serial over Bluetooth in a single unit. Getting serial to work over Bluetooth Low Energy, reliably, is a bit trickier than originally envisaged - but it is finally done.
Airconsole 2.0 supports Serial over Bluetooth Low Energy for iOS devices and also on OSX with our updated driver. For Android, Airconsole 2.0 supports Serial over Bluetooth 2.1 EDR (Classic). On Windows, we have built in support for Win7 and Win 8 native bluetooth 2.1 drivers, so you can discover and connect to Airconsoles' serial port via the built in Windows control panel process and it will bind as a local COM port - no additional drivers are required. Airconsole does appear as a mobile phone however - we'll change the picture to be a serial port in the next release!
While Airconsole 2.0 costs a little more than the original due to the additional Bluetooth components, weve done a very good deal with Fedex to make WORLDWIDE fedex priority shipping FREE on Pro and XL versions. This is not ground shipping - this is priority worldwide fully tracked airfreight, any where in the world - included in the price of Pro and XL Airconsoles.
The biggest advantage for using Airconsole via Bluetooth instead of WIFI is it lets the iOS or Android device remain connected to the WIFI network it wants (i.e. one that reaches the Internet) rather than having the WIFI tied up on a stub network connected to Airconsole. With the WIFI free to stay connected to the Internet, it means the Get Console serial connection can be shared over that WIFI to a Private Server or our demo servers.
Airconsole 2.0 integrates the Bluetooth via an additional female USB port on the USB serial cable. While it looks a bit ugly, we did this for a couple of good reasons
1) It lets (the many) existing Airconsole users upgrade to Bluetooth by just swapping the cable rather than buying another Airconsole.
2) It lets us expand on the possible uses of Airconsole via that Female USB port. For example instead of a bluetooth module you could (in the future) plug in a 4G dongle to make a fully remote accessible terminal server, or plug in a USB thumb drive to upload Cisco IOS images etc.
3) We wanted a product we could ship before Bluetooth 4.1 or 4.2 (which offer better speed, stability and performance) is actually available. We can then simply swap the BT dongle for a 4.2 capable dongle. While the bluetooth LE standard is evolving quite rapidly we didn’t want to rework the PCB to support 4.0 and then do so again when a longer lasting 4.1 standard is just around the corner.
At some point the Bluetooth radio will be integrated into the Airconsole chassis - most likely when BT 4.1 is standardised and the silicon is at commodity prices. More on that next year.
Were looking also at enabling a feature that turns your Airconsole 2.0 (with the included BT dongle) into an iBeacon. Except a better iBeacon because you can re-program it on the fly via Wired ethernet or WIFI. More on that in a month or so.