Posted by: Ed Tittel
I’ve only got one desktop PC with a built-in Bluetooth interface: it comes with the Asus P8Z68-V PRO Gen3 motherboard that serves as the basis for my Windows 8 desktop test machine (which also features an i7 2600K CPU, 32 GB RAM, Nvidia GTX-560 graphics, and a 240 GB OCZ Vertex4 SSD). I use Bluetooth all the time for various peripherals in my office, especially on my laptop PCs, but also on my desktops as well.
Sure, you can buy incredibly small mouse and keyboard dongles for those most common of input peripherals (like Logitech’s excellent Unifying Receiver, which tends to be included with most of their non-Bluetooth devices nowadays). But the same form factor also applies to Bluetooth dongles nowadays, where the latest Bluetooth 4.0 specification is engineering to sip only minimal energy when the interface is not in use, making that type ideal for plugging into a notebook or tablet PC that may not include a built-in Bluetooth interface. If you run this Google Shopping search, you’ll see that you have an incredible range of choices for such devices, starting at prices under $4, with bigger-name devices (such as those from Asus, IOGear, Star Tech, and so forth) going for prices from $12 to $20. I picked up a couple of $10 no-name models from Newegg and have found them quite workable for the three or four notebooks I have that lack Bluetooth, and likewise for the four desktop PCs I use that don’t include it, either.
The whole thing is 17mm long, with ~5mm protruding from the USB port.
Here’s a short list of what I’ve used these devices for on various desktop and notebook PCs:
- Attach to wireless mice and keyboards
- Bluetooth link to various printers (many of which feature USB ports these days)
- Attach to wireless headphones and speakers for audio output (I also see you can plug a mini-jack like those found in earbuds, headphones, speaker rigs, and so forth into a special Bluetooth dongle but I’ve never tried one of these myself, but this strikes me as another great audio application for Bluetooth)
- Personal Area Network (PAN) links between computers
- Link to iPhone or iPad for file transfer or music playback
- Drive my son’s Lego NZXT “robot” from a laptop PC
That’s a LOT of functionality from a tiny ten-dollar device! Comes in handy all the time, easy to transport, install, and use. Great stuff.