Using bluetooth

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

01 .Introduction

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.

 
 

Sign up to our free
e-Newsletter

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.

 

Some computer manufacturers use different software to control Bluetooth connections but many use a standard controller in the Control Panel.

Standard controller

  • From the Start menu select Control Panel.
  • Open the Printers and other devices category.
  • Open the Bluetooth devices control panel.
  • In the Devices tab click Add. The Bluetooth Device Wizard will start.
  • Enable Bluetooth on the device you want to connect to, then tick ‘My device is set up and ready to be found’.
  • Click Next, and select your device from the list.
  • Click Next again.
  • Select Choose a passkey for me or Let me choose my own passkey.
  • The devices connect. You'll need to enter the passkey on the device, then click Next.
  • The wizard is complete once you click Finish.

Toshiba laptops

  • From the Start menu select Toshiba.
  • Select Bluetooth, then choose Bluetooth Settings.
  • In the Bluetooth Settings window select New Connection.
  • The wizard starts. Make sure your gadget is Bluetooth enabled, then press the connect button or switch it to discoverable mode.
  • In the wizard, select Express Mode, then click Next.
  • The wizard searches for devices. Locate the gadget you just enabled then click Next.
  • If a passphrase is required, one will be asked for. Enter it on the gadget.
  • Finally, enter a connection name, then click Next. Click Finish to complete the wizard.

IBM/Lenovo laptops

  • Press Fn + F5.
  • In the Wireless Radio tab, the Bluetooth logo will be solid green.
  • Switch Turn On if it’s not switched on.
  • From the Start menu select Control Panel.
  • Open the Printers and other devices category.
  • Open the Bluetooth Devices control panel.
  • In the Devices tab click Add. The Bluetooth Device Wizard will start.
  • Enable Bluetooth on the device you want to connect to, then tick ‘My device is set up and ready to be found’.
  • Click Next, and select your device from the list. Click Next again.
  • Select Choose a passkey for me or Let me choose my own passkey.
  • The devices connect. You'll need to enter the passkey on the device, then click Next.
  • The wizard is complete once you click Finish.

HP laptops

  • From the Start menu, select All Programs, then My Bluetooth Places.
  • Choose Bluetooth Setup Wizard from the tasks menu on the left hand side.
  • The Bluetooth Setup wizard starts.
  • Select I know the service I want to use and want to find a Bluetooth device that provides that service, then click Next.
  • Select the service you want from the list, then enable your Bluetooth gadget/make it discoverable and click Next.
  • Select your gadget, then click Next.
  • The wizard displays a pairing code or passphrase. During the pairing procedure, enter the pairing code or passphrase on your gadget to complete the pairing.
  • The wizard manages the connection, once its complete, click Next.

Apple Mac computers

  • Open System Preferences and click on Hardware.
  • Select the Bluetooth tab, then click Setup New Device.
  • The Bluetooth Setup Assistant starts, click Continue.
  • Choose your gadget type. Ensure your gadget is set to discoverable, then click Continue.
  • The setup assistant searches for your gadget and lists any gadgets found.
  • Select your device from the list, then click Continue, then Continue again.
  • The setup wizard displays a passcode: type the passcode into your gadget.
  • The next screen shows any additional services or options you can choose for your Bluetooth gadget — choose any you want to enable, then click Continue.
  • Once complete, click Quit.
  • Restart your computer.

Bluetooth includes encryption and a passcode system allows for authentication. A passcode is sometimes also called a passphrase. When two devices connect for the first time, you need to enter the same passcode (usually four or six characters long) into each device before any data is transferred. If another device tries to connect to yours, you’ll be alerted and asked if you want to accept it, before being prompted to supply a passcode.

But Bluetooth can be used for malicious attacks. These attacks are usually only directed at PDAs, computers and phones, and are possible if a Bluetooth device is set to discoverable mode, or if the unique identifying address of the device is known.

Some potential hackers use misleading device names, so that you may make a permanent connection to another device (known as pairing) by accident. Even if you later remove the pairing, hackers may be able to connect to your gadget again. The risks are small, but it pays to play it safe.

Safety tips

  • Enable Bluetooth only when you need it.
  • Only set your device to ‘discoverable’ when pairing.
  • Reject unexpected pairing requests.
  • Check the list of paired devices from time to time, and remove any unknown devices.
  • Enable encryption, where possible, for Bluetooth transfers.
  • Keep your mobile phone's firmware up-to-date.


Transferring photos from a camera phone is easy — usually it’s a case of selecting the picture on your phone and choosing to send it via Bluetooth.

If you have a selection of paired devices, just select the device you want to send the picture to, whether it’s a computer, printer or another phone. You’ll need to have Bluetooth enabled.

Sending photos from your computer to your phone is almost as easy:

  • From the Start menu, select All Programs
  • In Accessories, select Communications, then Bluetooth File Transfer Wizard
  • The Wizard starts.
  • Click Next, then choose Send File
  • Under Send to: browse to find your phone, then click Next
  • Select the file you want to send, click Open
  • Click Next to send the file.
  • Accept the file transfer on your phone.
  • To transfer other data, such as address book or contact lists, you may need special software.

Transfer between computers

It’s reasonably straightforward to network two computers using Bluetooth, which then allows you to share folders just like you would with any other network.

First pair your computers, then prepare the first computer:

  • Right click the Bluetooth icon in the system tray and select Advanced configuration.
  • In the Local Services tab choose File Transfer
  • Click Properties, then in the General tab select the folder you want to share
  • Click OK.

Now prepare the second computer:

  • From the Start menu, select My Bluetooth Places
  • Click Entire Bluetooth Network, then select the computer you just set up
  • Open the folder File Transfer on (computer name) (where computername is the name of the first computer).

The first computer will ask whether you want to accept the connection from the second computer. Tick the box if you don’t want to have to accept the connection manually each time.

Once you open the File Transfer folder, you’ll be able to see everything within the shared folder on the first computer. You can copy files to and from this computer just as you would normally.

Copying via Bluetooth is slower than Ethernet, so it’s best suited to small files. If you only want to share one file, use the Bluetooth File Transfer Wizard.




Your say - Choice voice

Make a Comment

Members – Sign in on the top right to contribute to comments