The middle child of the technology family: Bluetooth

I just purchased a new Bose Wave radio with a Bluetooth attachment and I’m really impressed.  I’m a heavy listener to SiriusXM  both in my car and over the Net.   I’ve been tempted to acquire a satellite radio for the house.  However, it’s complicated and expensive on a yearly basis, so I’ve been reluctant.



With the new setup, I can run my SiriusXM Internet subscription off my iPad (or phone or computer) right to the Bose radio.  What a treat!  I can also listen to my iTunes library, Pandora and the new Apple radio.  The fidelity is great and it certainly beats the annual SiriusXM fees and I don’t need to figure out where to put the antenna.

Now, I can hear you now … there are plenty of technologies that permit sharing in this manner.  Apple TV and Airport are two.  However, they need compatible equipment and frankly can be a bit of a pain to set up and use for the average listener.

Enter Bluetooth.  Bluetooth is an industry standard technology that is cheap for device makers to incorporate, which is causing it to be more and more ubiquitous.  It’s easy to setup (called discovery) and easy to use.  Once setup, if the devices are within 30 feet, they will automatically connect.  It’s also consumes little power, which is crucial for battery powered devices.

Its kinda of the middle child of the family … you know, the one that gets a little lost in the shuffle, yet is highly capable and really a tremendous asset.   When most folks think of Bluetooth, they think of the computer mouse, keyboard or car speaker connection to a smart phone.  However, since it handles both data and voice, it works well for many of the applications  we are becoming more and more dependent on.  In newer cars, the car now has access not only to the phone, but the address book and yes, music.

There are some limitations.   Access is limited to 30 feet, so its not as powerful as WIFI.  Many applications require a dedicated connection, which means that to insure the correct device is connected, other devices within the range need to have Bluetooth shut off.  It’s for this reason, I’ve done the initial discovery with the radio only on our iPads, since both our phones and laptops have Bluetooth enabled for our cars and mice.

Bluetooth is also not a good solution at this time for heavy data transfers, though that could  change in the future.  Most Bluetooth implementations are limited to either 3 or 24 Mbps transfer rates.  Very good for many uses, but not the rates WiFi is capable of.  Either is fine for digital music and the higher rate would be fine for most HD video.

For more information about Bluetooth:

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