Using bluetooth

Bluetooth lets gadgets talk to each other wirelessly.
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  • Updated:5 Jun 2006


CHOICE reviews bluetooth

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is designed for low-power wireless communication over short distances.

Unlike infrared, Bluetooth’s radio waves don’t need line of sight. Bluetooth devices can send and receive information from many devices simultaneously. Bluetooth devices communicate with each other automatically.

The most common type of Bluetooth works for a distance of around 10 metres. It sends out a relatively weak signal, which helps avoid interference with other gadgets such as baby monitors.

When two enabled devices are in range, they quickly check whether they should be conversing with each other. If they have data to share, they create a network and switch frequencies in unison 1600 times a second within the radio frequency band used to transmit Bluetooth data. If there are other Bluetooth networks in the area, the likelihood that they will use the same frequencies is slim.

Please note: this information was current as of June 2006 but is still a useful guide to today's market.

Bluetooth gadgets

  • Headsets — whether you use them to make internet phone calls, listen to music, or chat using your mobile phone, Bluetooth headsets give hands-free, cord-free sound.
  • Laptops — most mid-range and more expensive laptops include Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Mobile phones — Bluetooth is used to speedily swap contact details, MP3 tunes or ringtones and photos.
  • Printers — send pictures directly from a PDA or digital camera as well as from Bluetooth-enabled laptops and desktops to a Bluetooth-enabled printer.
  • Digital cameras — send pictures directly from the camera to Bluetooth-enabled laptops, desktops and printers.
  • Keyboards and mice — low-power Bluetooth wireless connections consume less battery power than other wireless connections.
  • GPS — some cars now come with Bluetooth-enabled global positioning systems (GPS).

How to get Bluetooth on your computer

To tell if your computer has Bluetooth, check in the Control Panel:

  • From the Start menu select Control Panel
  • Open the Printers and other devices control panel

If there’s a Bluetooth devices entry, your computer has Bluetooth, but it may not be enabled. You should only set your computer to “discoverable” if you’re connecting a new Bluetooth device for pairing.

If your computer doesn’t have Bluetooth capability, you can add it via a USB dongle for about $60.



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