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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Click Essentials: Bluetooth
By Marc Cieslak
Reporter, BBC Click

Bluetooth logo (photo: Ericsson)
Keeping our kit connected requires more and more wires, creating a clutter of cables which can often look like a mass of electronic spaghetti. Bluetooth-enabled devices however, communicate with each other without the need for messy wires.

  • Bluetooth first appeared in 1998. It is a low-power consumption, radio-based system which allows devices to communicate with each other wirelessly.
  • One Bluetooth device can communicate with seven other devices.
  • The signal transmitted by Bluetooth is fairly low-powered, which means the effective range of any device is limited to about 10 metres. This space is known as a Personal Area Network.
  • Nowadays, you will find Bluetooth features in a variety of different bits of kit, including mobile phones, PDAs, headsets and printers, to name just a few. All of these devices can communicate with one another.
  • For instance, mobile phones can synch with a computer, backing-up contacts, or sharing photos. A Bluetooth mouse or keyboard reduces the number of wires on a desktop, and Bluetooth-enabled printers can receive data from similarly enabled kit. You can also create an "on the move" Personal Area Network.
  • There are a variety of simple headphones for personal stereos or MP3 players, and headsets with microphones for mobile phones.
  • Global positioning systems make navigating unfamiliar streets a doddle. However, the GPS feature on smart phones can be a big drain on the phone's battery. A Bluetooth GPS dongle does away with the power problem because it relies on its own battery. And of course it can connect to a Smartphone without wires.
  • Be careful when using Bluetooth in battery-powered devices though, leaving it switched on draws additional power from the battery.
  • Bluetooth devices are controlled by what is called profiles. These profiles define the device's features.
  • When buying a new piece of Bluetooth equipment make sure it supports the relevant profiles to ensure compatibility. It is a good idea to check the packaging first.

Click Essentials: Desktops
06 Jul 07 |  Click
Click Essentials: Firewalls
20 Apr 07 |  Click

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