By Joe Callison
15 April, 2018
Bluetooth is finally becoming a very usable and useful feature thanks to two major improvements:
First, the new Bluetooth 5 standard has greatly improved the performance in both speed and distance over previous versions of Bluetooth. New devices already supporting the standard include Apple iphone 8 (and X) and the Samsung Galaxy 8. New headphones, earbuds and speakers are also available using the new standard, and are now able to work with the Low Energy mode first introduced with Bluetooth 4. This will greatly improve the battery life for wireless audio peripherals. The new standard also supports Dual Audio, streaming the same or different audio to two devices simultaneously.
Second, with the upcoming Windows 10 feature update (version 1803) it will become much simpler to connect to Bluetooth devices. Detected devices will show up as a notification, which after reading to determine if it is a device you wish to connect to, can be done simply by selecting Connect in the notification message. Note that existing computers, laptops and tablets will be connecting using Bluetooth 4 or older standards and will not provide the performance benefits offered by the Bluetooth 5 standard. Eventually you should be able to find USB Bluetooth 5 adapters or internal PCI cards for upgrading older computer devices, but currently they are only available with Bluetooth 4 or older. All Bluetooth devices are backward compatible to older standards.
There are some additional things to know about Bluetooth audio devices. All of them are capable of streaming music using A2DP compression, which is roughly equivalent to MP3 quality, or from ⅓ to ½ of CD quality. For better quality audio, look for aptX or even better aptX HD capability if your Bluetooth audio source device supports it. Apple hardware (including Beats which is owned by Apple) currently uses a proprietary (of course) Apple W1 chip with the Bluetooth 4 standard for high quality audio.
There are several uses for Bluetooth besides audio that work quite well even with the older standards. A Bluetooth wireless mouse and/or keyboard does not require installing an adapter in a USB port to function, freeing up the USB port(s) for other uses. Even if a computer device does not currently have Bluetooth wireless capability, a single USB Bluetooth adapter can be installed for communication with all Bluetooth peripheral devices desired. Bluetooth can also be used for transferring data between devices. You may already have a smartphone paired to the infotainment system in your automobile. In the same way, two smartphones or a smartphone and a tablet or computer can be paired (connected) to exchange or synchronize data files.
For help connecting Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 computers to Bluetooth devices, see the following:
For help connecting Apple computers to iOS or Bluetooth devices, see the following:
For help connecting Android devices to Bluetooth devices, see the following:
For more information on Bluetooth technology, see the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s website at: