Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bluetooth Range Basics

Bluetooth is a wireless connectivity technology that has been around since 1999. It has grown to become one of the most popular methods of connecting peripheral devices wirelessly. This popularity has grown because of the incorporation of Bluetooth into mobile computing devices, cell phones, and other devices designs. A common question asked is about Bluetooth range.

The “Class” of the device indicates the range of a Bluetooth device. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (S.I.G.) has designated three classes of Bluetooth devices.

Class-1 Devices have a range of approximately 100 meters.
Class-2 Devices have a range of approximately 10 meters.
Class-3 Devices have a range of approximately 1 meter.

Users can mix device classes without worry, however, it the range is limited to that of the shortest ranged device.

There are situations that may interfere with the range and common sources of interference include:
RF interference from other RF devices
Strong Electronic current (such as fluorescent lights)
Sending signals through certain material

An exception to this is if a user has a Bluetooth receiver that is Class 2 connected to a Class 1 transmitter (Like a Class 1 Bluetooth Dongle sending audio to a Class 2 Bluetooth Headset). In cases like this, the reception of the headset can be extended to 20 meters, however, any microphone function would be out of range.

If you are shopping for Bluetooth adapters or Bluetooth devices, always refer to the Class of the device, when trying to determine the range.