Top Links

Windows Mobile
Location based
GPS GPRS WAP Wi-fi USB Dongles
Help forum

Receive the latest updates direct to your inbox

FileSaveAs News Feed Follow FileSaveAs on Twitter FileSaveAs Tech Podcast
FrequencyCast UK Tech Podcast

Bluetooth Explained - Information and Advice

Information on the wireless technology, Bluetooth - what it is, and how to use it

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth LogoBluetooth is a wireless technology that allows computers, phones and other devices to talk to each other over short distances (up to 100 metres). Bluetooth uses radio waves (in the 2.4 Gigahertz range), and is designed to be a secure and inexpensive way of connecting and exchanging information between devices without wires.

You'll find Bluetooth in many of the newer mobile phones, handheld computers, laptops, printers, handheld organisers, as well as in all sorts of products.

Uses of Bluetooth include: sending photos from your mobile, exchanging business cards, sending voice from a headset to a mobile phone, and real-time satellite navigation using GPS.

This page provides some basic information on what Bluetooth has to offer, plus links to Bluetooth products.


Bluetooth products

OK, so the promised Bluetooth fridge can't be bought at your local Currys store just yet, but here are a few examples of the Bluetooth products already available:

Mobile Phone
Nokia 6220

With a Bluetooth mobile phone such as the Nokia N95, you can do the following:

  • Connect to your PC to transfer files and perform a backup.
  • Exchange business cards, calendar entries and photos with other users
  • Use a Bluetooth headset for hands-free calling
  • Use the phone as a wireless modem from your Bluetooth-enabled laptop or PDA
  • Connect to a Bluetooth GPS unit for satellite navigation
Handheld PDA
o2 XDA Orbit

There's a wide range of Bluetooth-enabled Pocket PC or Palm OS handheld computers on the market. You can use Bluetooth for the following:

  • Connect to your PC or laptop to transfer files.
  • Share data with other users - including contacts, diary entries, documents and photos
  • Connect to the Internet for surfing or email, via a Bluetooth-enabled modem or access point
  • Connect to a Bluetooth GPS unit for satellite navigation

This site has several pages on PDAs. We recommend devices powered by Windows Mobile.

Phone Headset
Sony Ericsson HBH-30
Hands-free calling from your mobile phone is possible with the aid of Bluetooth. OK, so you may end up looking like a Borg, but combining a Bluetooth mobile phone with a headset means you can use your phone without holding it to your ear, and without all those messy headphone wires.

Bluetooth headsets are available from a range of stores, such as the Carphone Warehouse
USB dongles and adapters
Belkin USB

Most PCs and laptops don't have built-in support for Bluetooth, but for around £15, you can add Bluetooth via a special USB Bluetooth adapter.

We recommend the Belkin USB Bluetooth adapter available for around £12 from Amazon UK . - This lets you create cable-free connections between your USB desktop PC and devices using Bluetooth.

The Adapter is compatible with Bluetooth v1.2-certified devices and enables you to connect wirelessly to up to seven other devices such as printers, PDAs, and mobile phones. There's also a selection at

GPS Navigation
TomTom Navigator
Connect your PDA, laptop or mobile phone via Bluetooth to a wire-free GPS receiver - these get a fix on your location from orbiting navigation satellites and overlays your position onto a map and/or route planner. For on real-time mapping and route planning using Bluetooth, see our GPS page.

If you have a Pocket PC, Windows Mobile or a Smartphone, consider TomTom Navigator 7 as your PC navigation software solution.
Modem / Access point
Siemens Blue2net LAN access point
Allows users to connect to the Internet using Bluetooth.

The D-Link DBT-900AP Bluetooth Access Point is designed to extend LAN network services to Bluetooth-enabled devices such as laptop computers and PDAs. This Access Point provides a new solution for wireless connection of multiple users and devices on a Bluetooth network.

For single use, there's the Zoom Hayes Bluetooth 56K External Modem, which plugs into your phone line. Available from Misco. and PC World
Printer / print adapter
HP DeskJet 995c color inkjet

If you're looking to print without wires, here are some Bluetooth options:

  • Look for to a dedicated Bluetooth printer, such as the Samsung SSP-2040, or the older HP DeskJet 995C or HP DeskJet 450wbt
  • Alternatively, you can buy a Bluetooth print adapter that lets you use Bluetooth with your existing printer. These enable wireless printing of data or photos from your Bluetooth-enabled desktop PC, laptop, PDA and mobile phone. You'll find a selection of Bluetooth print adapters at online stores such as Amazon and
  • Polaroid ToGoFinally, consider a portable Bluetooth printer, such as the tiny ink-free Polaroid PoGo. No expensive ink cartridges, send pics from your phone's camera by Bluetooth for near instant pics from this handheld rechargeable printer.

Many of the Bluetooth products mentioned above are available from UK supplier



Using Bluetooth

Bluetooth offers a great way of exchanging data between devices. Here are the advantages:

  • Cable-free, so less messy leads to worry about
  • Interoperability - In most cases, you can use your portable Bluetooth device to connect with other existing Bluetooth points, without having to carry a data lead and CD of drivers around with you

Here's an example of some of the things you can do with Bluetooth:

  • Transfer files (such as mp3s and photos) to and from your mobile
  • A wire-free headset for your mobile
  • Backup your PDA or mobile to your PC
  • Use a Bluetooth GPS device for satellite navigation on your mobile phone, PDA or laptop.

Bluetooth software:

  • The good news is that if you have Bluetooth hardware in your mobile phone, PDA, GPS or headset, you probably won't need to worry about installing special Bluetooth drivers - the software is built-in and ready for use. If connecting to a PC, you may need to install Bluetooth drivers, although newer version of Windows XP and Vista come with Bluetooth drivers that can be used with some plug-and-play Bluetooth hardware, so there's less messing around.
Belkin on a PC
Windows XP Sp2's Bluetooth driver with a Belkin

Bluetooth Frequently-asked questions:

Why Bluetooth?

Where did the term Bluetooth originate?
Bluetooth was originally developed by mobile phone company Ericsson in 1994. Looking for a unique name for the technology, they settled on "Bluetooth" after a tenth century viking king called Harald "Bluetooth" Blatand. During his reign, he united Denmark and Norway, and was well known for his ability to help people communicate. Presumably, Ericsson's hope was that Bluetooth technology could do the same.

Passcode What is my passcode?
In order to 'pair' one Bluetooth device to another, a passcode has to be exchanged between the two devices. When you first connect, one machine will ask you to enter a passcode... enter any 4 digit number. The other device will then ask you for a passcode. Enter the same 4 digit number. It doesn't matter what the passcode is, as long as you enter the same number at both ends.
Phone to PC?

If you have a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone, then you can use Bluetooth to beam your photos and other objects from your phone to a PC or laptop. You'll need to have Bluetooth on your PC (if it doesn't already have Bluetooth, see our other FAQ on this). With Bluetooth switched on on both the phone and PC, you need to 'pair' the two machines, and then you can use the software on the phone and PC to transfer files.

Bluetooth-enabled phones include the Series 60 range of smartphones (such as the Nokia 6680), as well as Windows Mobile phones such as the o2 XDA Orbit

Bluetooth on a PC Belkin USBIf you want to add Bluetooth functionality to your PC or laptop, the best bet is to buy yourself a Bluetooth USB adapter that plugs into a spare USB port on your PC. We recommend the Belkin USB Bluetooth adapter available for around £12. This comes with the software needed to get a Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000, XP or Vista PC enabled with Bluetooth.

Is Bluetooth the same as wi-fi?

Bluetooth is not to be mistaken for Wi-fi (wireless networking) - Bluetooth runs at a lower speed and power than Wi-fi.

Are WiFi and Bluetooth compatible?

Bluetooth and WiFi are both radio technologies, but they differ in the frequencies and protocols that they use. They don't interfere with each other, but the two don't talk to each other either - in other words you can't get a device with Bluetooth to communicate to a device that only supports WiFi.


There seem to be a number of security concerns about Bluetooth - should I be worried?
There have been some security concerns, and you should make your own judgment on the convenience of Bluetooth versus the risk of having someone gaining access. Here's a summary of the scare types:

  • Bluejacking - A craze in 2004, where people with Bluetooth mobiles scan for other users with Bluetooth enabled, and beam a Contact Card containing a greeting. This is usually harmless, and exploits a common feature of Bluetooth - the ability to beam business cards. You still have to accept the card.
  • Calls being overheard - some Bluetooth handsets and headsets use an obvious passcode, such as 0000, meaning that some hackers have apparently been able to hi-jack connections (to access the microphone or to eavesdrop on a call)
  • Clever thieves have been known to use Bluetooth and wi-fi checkers to see if a car's boot or glovebox contains a Bluetooth device
  • There's some clever software out there that can make use of vulnerabilities in a small number of Bluetooth phones, to establish a data connection.

Hiding BluetoothFor most people, the likelihood of something nasty happening is pretty low, but if you want to play it safe, here are a few tips: 1) when not using Bluetooth, turn it off. 2) Set your Bluetooth mode so that it isn't discoverable. 3) Be careful of devices that may have a guessable passcode. 4) Be careful when setting a device to "trusted" or "authorised", as that device can then access all of your devices services, features, and potentially - data.

Compatibility Are all Bluetooth devices compatible with each other?
Thanks to Frank Kubanek for contributing the following note: Bluetooth is equivalent to a 'wireless USB cable' with the security and limitations. To prevent disappointment and angry buyers, note that Bluetooth is a new technology coming to market, and although the standards are established, implementation depends on the vendor. The hardware will work as advertised, but it's important to note that the drivers for the devices are not necessarily there to allow all Bluetooth devices to connect to all other Bluetooth devices. The standard exists and the hardware exists, hopefully the vendors of Bluetooth devices don't destroy the market by promises of compatibility and a failure to deliver.

Got a question on Bluetooth? Please ask in our forum.

Listen to the FrequencyCast UK online radio show
FrequencyCast Podcast IconThe FrequencyCast podcast covers UK technology, gadgets and digital TV.
Listen to our free shows online or download to your MP3 player

What is FrequencyCast? | Get us via iTunes | Catch our Latest Show


Connecting mobile devices using Bluetooth

Here, we offer some help and advice on connecting mobile phones and PDAs using Bluetooth technology.


Connecting to the Internet with a Windows Mobile / Pocket PC

Here are some basic instructions for setting up a Windows Mobile Pocket PC device and a mobile phone for Internet access over Bluetooth.

We're using a Windows Mobile iPAQ as an example. We have instructions for the Loox here.
  • Turn on the Bluetooth phone and enable Bluetooth - how you do this depends on the make and model. If in doubt, check your phone's manual.
  • Bluetooth connection wizardTurn on the Pocket PC, and enable Bluetooth (On an IPAQ, this is Settings > Connections > Bluetooth > Turn on)
  • You then need to search for the Bluetooth mobile from the Pocket PC. From the Pocket PC Bluetooth Manager
    (On an IPAQ, this is Settings > Connections > Bluetooth > Bluetooth Manager), select "New" to start the wizard.
  • Select "Connect to Internet via phone" and press "Next"
  • Assuming your phone isn't listed in "Phone selection", specify "Unknown" and press "Next" twice
  • On the next screen, set the pull-down at the bottom of the screen to "All devices" and wait while the PDA scans for devices in range
  • Select your phone from the list of detected Bluetooth devices
  • You'll be prompted for a Passkey. Enter "1234" and press "Next".
  • Look at the phone - you should be being prompted to enter a passkey - enter "1234" and proceed.
  • The PDA will then discover what services are available. Tick the "use as default connection", and then tap on "New connection".
  • Enter details of the dialup account you want to use (more here).

    Tiscali on PPC
  • Finish to exit the Wizard

Now, go to the web browser, and try to visit a website - You'll be asked for your dialup username and password. Once you've entered this, the PDA should start dialling, and make the connection.

You should now be ready to connect to the Internet. For more on connecting, see the following instructions:

Searching and pairing on a Nokia Series 60 phone

This section helps with using Bluetooth on a Series 60 phone such as a Nokia N95, or the Nokia 6220.
Bluetooth Pairing with Series 60
  • Go to 'Settings', 'Connectivity' and select 'Bluetooth'
  • From the first tab, select 'Bluetooth', and set Bluetooth to "On"
  • Move to the second tab, press "Options" and select "New paired device"
  • Select the device you want to pair with. You'll be promoted to enter a passcode. If the device you're connecting to already has a passcode, then you'll be prompted to add this, otherwise you'll need to create a passcode. Use a number like 1234 (you only need this once to get a pairing, so you don't need to remember it)
  • You will be prompted to enter the passcode on the device you want to pair to (unless it already has a passcode). Enter the code that matches the one you entered on the phone, and "ok" it.
  • To allow the phone to always connect without prompting and pairing, you can set the device as "Authorised". Do this by selecting the device, and from the Options menu, select "Set as authorised".

Further information: Nokia Series 60 range, Nokia 6220 info, Nokia N95 info, Nokia 6600 info, 6680 info, Series 60 Internet, Series 60 WAP

Searching and pairing on a SonyEricsson P800 / P900

  • Passcode on a P800Go to Control panel, 'Connections' tab, and select 'Bluetooth'.
  • From the 'Settings' tab, set 'Operation mode:' to "Discoverable"
  • Search for devices by pressing 'Add'
  • Select the device you want to pair to. When prompted, enter the passcode. If the device you're pairing to already has a passkey, you'll need to use that key, otherwise, enter a key (such as a 4 digit number)
  • Enter this number on the device you want to pair to
To send a file, select the object to send, and from the menu, select 'Send As', then 'Bluetooth'

Further information: P800 information, P900 information, P900/P910 Internet


  • - Online stockist of all things Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth in Wikipedia - Great source of general information on what Bluetooth's all about - ideal for researchers
  • - The official Bluetooth site
  • Geekzone Bluetooth - Technical stuff on how to share Internet connections over Bluetooth on a Palm & Pocket PC
  • GPRS over Bluetooth? See the section on our GPRS page


Bookmark this page:

delicious digg stumble technorati facebook