Using a Bluetooth Headset with your PC
For those of you not familiar with the term, Bluetooth refers to
a wireless protocol (or set of rules) designed for short range electronic
applications (usually less than 30 feet in distance). Although the
technology has been around for several years, Bluetooth support
for PC users has been limited due to hardware manufacturers focusing
on the more traditional 802.11 wireless network protocols (wifi).
In reality, Bluetooth and wifi achieve different purposes and each
has its pros and cons.
Cellular Telephone Bluetooth Headsets
The cellular telephone community has long embraced Bluetooth technology,
developing and refining numerous wireless devices. One of the more
popular Bluetooth applications for cellular telephones has been
cordless headsets which enable users to leave their telephone in
their bag or pocket while still being able to make and receive calls.
Bluetooth headsets are generally very lightweight, worn over one
ear and achieve talk times from 1-4 hours before needing a recharge.
Bluetooth PC Headset?
So if cellular telephone users have warmly embraced Bluetooth headsets,
why not the PC community? At the time of writing, this author knows
of no PC hardware manufacturer who has designed a Bluetooth Headset
primarily for use with a PC. However, there is nothing to prevent
a PC user from using a cellular phone Bluetooth Headset with their
PC. Keep in mind though, these headsets were originally envisioned
for cellular phone use and may need a bit of tweaking before they
ll perform as well as corded headsets on your computer.
USB Bluetooth Adapter
Unless you own a relatively expensive notebook PC, odds are that
your computer doesn t natively support the Bluetooth protocol. If
this is the case, you ll need an Adapter or Dongle in order to make
your computer Bluetooth enabled . Bluetooth adapters are generally
very small (a few inches long) and insert into a vacant USB port
on your computer. When purchasing an adapter it s critical that
you buy one that supports the headset protocol . The headset protocol
is merely a set of rules which enables your Bluetooth adapter to
communicate with and make use of Bluetooth headsets in its vicinity.
If your adapter does not support the headset protocol, no amount
of tweaking will get your headset working with your PC. Adapters
generally run between $20 - $80 USD and can be purchased at most
Buying a Bluetooth Headset
Bluetooth headsets for cellular phones are generally very expensive
when compared with conventional corded PC headsets. Depending on
where you buy your headset, you could spend anywhere from $20 to
$200+ USD. If you re looking for a relatively inexpensive headset
that ll simply enable you to make wireless VoIP calls using your
PC, I recommend looking on Ebay. Although prices vary considerably
on Ebay between merchants for similar products, overall they are
considerably less expensive than purchasing the same headset from
a telephone store. A word of caution about Ebay though; ensure that
you read the fine print associated with shipping costs. Some Ebay
merchants advertise Bluetooth Headsets for $5 USD however the real
cost quickly rises to $35+ when you account for their often exorbitant
Pairing the Headset with your PC
Once your computer is Bluetooth enabled and you ve obtained a Bluetooth
headset, you ll need to pair the headset with your computer in order
to use it for VoIP applications. This is usually just a matter of
setting your headset in discovery mode and allowing your PC to search
or discover Bluetooth devices. The steps needed to enable discovery
mode on your headset and adapter will vary between devices and should
be clearly explained in the documentation accompanying your devices.
Adjusting your Audio Settings
Depending on your hardware and operating system, you may need to
make adjustments to your audio settings after the headset is paired
with your PC. In the Windows operating system, this will involve
accessing Audio Properties through the Control Panel and setting
the audio and voice devices to your newly paired Bluetooth headset.
Again, adjusting these settings should be covered in the documentation
accompanying both your headset and Bluetooth adapter.
Once you re up and running, you ll wonder why you didn t adopt
this wireless headset solution sooner. The freedom to wander away
from your computer whilst maintaining voice over Internet conversations
is something you ll come to appreciate and love.
Nathan Smith: Nathan is the owner of Bluetoothpcheadsets.com
which contains information about using Bluetooth Headsets with computers
(PCs) and netphonedirectory.com
which deals specifically with PC to Phone and PC to PC VoIP. Nathan
Currently lives in New Brunswick, Canada