Phoenix Freeze Auto-Locks Your Laptop via BlackBerry, iPhone Bluetooth
Phoenix Freeze locks up your Bluetooth-enabled notebook computer and activates power-saving settings whenever you walk away with your BlackBerry or iPhone, then unlocks the machine when you return. But a few major flaws keep it from being truly valuable.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
A new product from Phoenix Technologies, called Freeze, lets you use BlackBerry or iPhone Bluetooth to tell a PC that you’re leaving the area and want it to lock up. When you return, Phoenix Freeze can also automatically unlock the machine so it’s ready for you. However, it only works on Windows PCs, doesn’t support 64-bit platforms, disables all other Bluetooth peripherals and seems to be a bit buggy for an official release.
To use Phoenix Freeze you simply download a small client on your Bluetooth-enabled PC, pair your iPhone or BlackBerry with Freeze, set your proximity or distance settings, enable energy-saving options, if desired, and you’re good to go.
For instance, you could set your computer to lock up whenever your device is 20 feet or more from the PC running Freeze. And energy-saver settings let you also determine whether or not your computer should shift into stand-by, or sleep, mode once you’ve travelled outside the pre-set Bluetooth zone.
As such, Phoenix Freeze is meant to act as an environmentally-friendly security safeguard.
Free, two-week Phoenix Freeze trials are available on the company’s site, but the full subscription price is nowhere to be found. A “Purchasing a Freeze License” page on the Phoenix site merely describes how to purchase the product after your trial expires. This seems a bit underhanded to me, if not suspicious.
Also, a bit of research on Phoenix Freeze quickly turns up some noteworthy issues. Specifically, a number of early users report annoying delays in locking and unlocking their machines. Phoenix Freeze also apparently takes control of your PC’s Bluetooth “stack,” meaning any other Bluetooth peripherals you employ, like keyboards or a mouse, are rendered useless–at least while Freeze is installed. It only works on Windows XP or Vista machines and doesn’t support 64-bit versions of Windows.
Phoenix Freeze also no doubt takes a toll on your BlackBerry or iPhone battery life, since it’s constantly communicating with your PC via Bluetooth.
And similar, albeit “less-polished,” products, like Blue Lock, are available free of charge.
I’m also reminded of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry Smart Card Reader, which allows for IT-controlled access to Bluetooth-enabled BlackBerry devices and computers using advanced AES-256 encryption. In other words, the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader serves a similar purpose to Phoenix Freeze, but it’s much more secure and is controlled by IT administrators.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.