Roam up to 30m from your PC while listening to your favourite songs, or Skype with friends using clear Bluetooth stereo.
Bluetooth is an excellent way to share data from a PC and make wirefree handsets work for mobile phone, and these can often be connected to a PC using the regular Bluetooth connection that is built into most modern laptops. For desktop computers a Bluetooth dongle can be used that plugs into a spare USB port. An old USB1 port is sufficient for this because the speed at which data is transferred is slow, 1-3 MBps. However, regular Bluetooth is not fast enough for quality stereo sound.
Headphone Adapter or Digital A2DP Dongle?
A new version of Bluetooth allows for clear, interference-free streaming of stereo audio to the headphones. The clarity is far superior to the hissy FM technology of the past, which came with issues of interference and noise on going out of range.
There are none of the line of sight issues that afflict infrared headphones, and the power consumption is low – the headphones are usually rechargeable either via USB or a separate charger. As the receiver goes out of range (typically 10-30m) the sound is impaired with small interruptions, and then mutes, rather than the deafening hiss FM or infrared systems often produce out of range)
The data rate for regular Bluetooth is not enough for reliable streaming of stereo audio, so Bluetooth headphones require either a special Bluetooth dongle that supports something called A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), or they come with a device to plug into a regular 3.5mm headphone socket. Which is right for depends on what the headphones will be used for.
Simple Wireless Headphones
If the objective is to eliminate the wires from a MP3 player, radio or listen to a hi-fi throughout the house, then the type that plugs into the existing headphone socket instantly converts wired audio gear to wireless with a minimum of fuss. There are some Ipod specific models that can remotely skip tracks and play them again.
Wireless Headphones with Remote Control able to Pause, Skip Tracks
If the desired use is to control a computer media player then using an A2DP dongle on the PC or laptop is a better solution. These generally also support control of the player via AVCP (Audio Video remote Control Profile). Usually only the default media player on your PC can be used to get the remote control facility, but it is nice to be able to skip the odd track and repeat others.
Skype and Other Telephony Applications
Skype can be used with a regular Bluetooth headset of the type used with mobile phones with a normal Bluetooth data adaptor. However, some stereo headphones have a microphone that can be used via the A2DP dongle. The USB dongle needs to support Skype – some only offer streaming stereo audio and/or remote control, in which case the microphone cannot feed the signal into Skype.
Quality, Ease of Use and Low Cost
Bluetooth headphones have finally sorted out the practicality and quality issues that used to dog wireless headphones. Using the adapter solution as a straight replacement for wired or old analog wireless headphones giving an instant step up in quality and reliability, all at a very competitive price.
A disadvantage of Bluetooth headphones is that the digital coding scheme does impose a short delay of about half a second in the audio. This is not a problem for media players, but for live music applications or audio monitoring the delay can be a problem.