How Does a USB Bluetooth Adapter Work?

By Aaron Wardell


Bluetooth, a high-frequency wireless technology, allows devices to communicate with each other over short distances. USB Bluetooth adapters, sometimes called Bluetooth dongles, are small, inexpensive gadgets that enable this technology on home computers, providing many potential benefits. All you have to do is plug in the adapter to a USB port and it does the rest!

Features and Benefits

There are many reasons you might want a USB Bluetooth adapter on your home computer or laptop. Wireless printing, communication with cell phones and PDAs, file transfers, network sharing, and using a wireless keyboard and mouse are among the many things you can do with Bluetooth. Bluetooth is cheap to implement, supports a high rate of data transfer and is very secure. Because Bluetooth uses "spread-spectrum frequency hopping" there is little worry of interference even when many devices are communicating at once. The only downside to Bluetooth is its limited range, although more expensive adapters can communicate effectively over 300 feet.

How It Works

Bluetooth adapters work using the plug-and-play feature of the Windows and Mac operating systems, so they can be removed and reinserted at any time. When you plug a device in, the software driver stored in the device is transferred to and interpreted by the operating system. There is usually no installation required, although some adapters do require you to install drivers from a CD the first time you use them. Once it's installed, the adapter usually lights up and begins sending signals to search for Bluetooth devices in the area. If it finds any, you are given the option to communicate with them.