Christian M. 4 min read

What is a Bluetooth Dongle?

Bluetooth dongles are niche devices that can help businesses extend the usability of their ageing fleet of laptops, PCs and TVs that support outdated Bluetooth hardware that is no longer fit for purpose.

They are a tool for IT departments to reduce the amount of commercial electronic waste generated and push back the replacement date of your existing hardware fleet.

In this article, we cover everything Bluetooth dongles. Green businesses, take note!

💡 Key Takeaways:

  • Updating hardware: A Bluetooth dongle is essentially a hardware add-on that enables improved Bluetooth performance to any device with a USB port.
  • Less electronic waste: Using Bluetooth dongles on ageing hardware can extend its usable life by a few years, reducing electronic waste.
  • Extended life: By extending the usable life of older devices, your business can delay the procurement of new equipment and save thousands of pounds by skipping a generation of new hardware.

What are Bluetooth dongles?

Bluetooth dongles are small USB devices that act as hardware add-ons for devices like laptops, PCs and Smart TVs. Plugging in the USB dongle enables its often superior Bluetooth hardware and software capabilities to complement or override the main device’s often inferior capabilities.

For example, if you’re working remotely with a Bluetooth 4.0 laptop, you may run into trouble connecting to your contemporary Bluetooth headphones, mouse, keyboard and printer simultaneously. In comes a modern Bluetooth 5.0 dongle that upgrades your older but perfectly working laptop to work seamlessly with all your wireless devices.

This is great for any business that cares about the waste hierarchy and is willing to do this simple and effective workaround to extend the life of their ageing fleet of laptops, PCs or Smart TVs.

💡 In-built: Many Bluetooth devices like mice, keyboards and specific headsets that are designed for laptops and PCs will come with their own Bluetooth dongle to ensure it is compatible with a wide range of hardware.

What are 10 examples of Bluetooth dongles?

The following devices typically incorporate a USB Bluetooth dongle as part of its design to guarantee functionality with a wide range of hardware.

  • Wireless Keyboards & Mice: Enables connection to wireless keyboards and mice.
  • Bluetooth Headphones & Speakers: Allows wireless audio streaming to headphones or speakers.
  • File Transfers: Facilitates wireless file sharing between computers and devices like smartphones, GoPros, etc.
  • Health Device Syncing: Syncs data from Bluetooth-enabled health devices to a computer.
  • Smart Controls: Communicates with and controls smart devices.
  • Wireless Printing: Connects to Bluetooth printers for wireless printing.
  • Car Audio Systems: Enables non-Bluetooth car audio systems to receive audio from devices.
  • Meeting Collaboration: Connects to conference room equipment for seamless collaboration.
  • Accessibility: Enables connections to specialised accessibility devices for disabled individuals.

A CallPod Bluetooth Dongle

What can a Bluetooth dongle do?

A Bluetooth dongle enables wireless communication between a computer and Bluetooth-enabled devices, eliminating the need for any cable or tether and enabling older non-Bluetooth computers to function with Bluetooth Devices.

This small USB device enhances versatility and convenience in professional settings, promoting a clutter-free and flexible technological experience. This will lead to efficiency gains without having to immediately replace your existing devices.

See our exhaustive list of devices that use these Bluetooth Dongles to connect to any computer.

How do I use a Bluetooth dongle?

To use a Bluetooth dongle, you have to do the following:

  1. Plug it into a USB port on your computer or device, like a USB car radio. Most operating systems will automatically detect and install necessary drivers.
  2. Once installed, enable Bluetooth on your computer or device, usually found in settings. Then, put the device you want to connect (e.g., headphones, mouse, smartphone) into pairing mode.
  3. On your computer, search for available devices and select the one you want to connect. Confirm the pairing if prompted.

The devices should now communicate wirelessly. If issues arise, consult the dongle’s manual or your device’s support page, as procedures might vary slightly depending on the specific make and model.

If this is unavailable, Google the device model followed by “is not working” or “how to use” or whatever the specific problem is!

What is the meaning of a Bluetooth dongle?

A Bluetooth Dongle or Adapter can be the size of a small 4×4 Lego piece.

A Bluetooth dongle is a small USB device that allows wireless devices like headphones, speakers or keyboards to connect to a computer or device like a car radio, eliminating the need for cables or entirely replacing hardware.

It permits older computers or devices lacking adequate built-in Bluetooth support to connect to Bluetooth (wireless) devices, bringing a new era of wireless convenience to everyone.

Even if your computer has built-in Bluetooth, the software and hardware may be inadequate to support many of the latest wireless devices simultaneously.

In summary, these devices bridge the gap between various technologies and promote a more flexible and efficient user experience.

What is the difference between a Bluetooth dongle and a Bluetooth adapter?

A Bluetooth Dongle and a Bluetooth Adapter essentially refer to the same device and are used interchangeably. Dongle = Adapter!

They allow wireless communication with Bluetooth-enabled devices such as headphones, speakers, keyboards, etc.

Read our definition of a dongle, and you’ll know what an adapter is.

Does Bluetooth need a dongle?

Bluetooth doesn’t inherently need a dongle, as many modern devices come with built-in Bluetooth capabilities.

However, if a computer or other device lacks this built-in functionality, a Bluetooth dongle becomes necessary to enable wireless communication with Bluetooth-enabled devices.

It is simply plugged into a USB port and voila, your computer, PC or TV now has a wireless connection of peripherals like headphones, speakers, keyboards, and more.

In summary, while Bluetooth itself doesn’t require a dongle, it serves as a valuable tool to extend Bluetooth functionality to devices without it.

What are the benefits of Bluetooth dongles for PC?

A Bluetooth dongle for a PC offers several benefits.

It enables wireless connectivity with a wide range of devices, such as headphones, speakers, keyboards, and mice, reducing cable clutter and enhancing workspace aesthetics.

The dongle allows for quick and easy pairing with Bluetooth-enabled devices, promoting flexibility and convenience in both personal and professional settings.

It can also facilitate file transfers between devices and enable new functionalities like connecting to smart home gadgets or health monitors (see our exhaustive list of Bluetooth Dongle use cases).

By adding Bluetooth capability to PCs without built-in support, a Bluetooth dongle makes technology interactions more seamless, efficient, and user-friendly, contributing to a more modern computing experience.

💡 Bluetooth dongles are great at extending the lifespan of older PCs or laptops without or only a limited number of Bluetooth channels. This is essential for businesses that aim to reduce their electronic waste and achieve the highest ESG or corporate responsibility standards.

How to Use a Bluetooth Dongle on Windows or Mac?

To use a Bluetooth dongle on Windows or Mac:

  1. Insert the Dongle: Plug the Bluetooth dongle into a USB port.
  2. Install Drivers: Windows usually auto-installs drivers. On Mac, it’s typically plug-and-play.
  3. Enable Bluetooth: On Windows, go to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth. On Mac, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth.
  4. Pair Devices: Put the Bluetooth device in pairing mode. Click “Add Bluetooth Device” on Windows or “Set Up New Device” on Mac. Select the device and follow the prompts.
  5. Confirm Connection: Once paired, the device should connect automatically.

Always refer to specific dongle instructions, as procedures may vary slightly. If its a company-wide roll-our, your IT staff should support you if necessary.

What to look for when buying a Bluetooth adapter?

Make sure to get the Bluetooth range you require when purchasing a dongle

When buying a Bluetooth adapter, consider the following:

  • Bluetooth Version: Opt for the latest version (e.g. Bluetooth 5.0) for better performance and compatibility.
  • Range: Choose the range based on your needs; Class 1 offers longer than Class 2.
  • Compatibility: Ensure it works with your operating system and devices.
  • Data Transfer Rate: Higher speeds provide smoother connections.
  • Size and Design: Compact designs are more portable.
  • Energy Efficiency: Look for low energy consumption if using battery-powered devices.
  • Brand and Warranty: Consider reputable brands and check the warranty.
  • User Reviews: Read customer reviews for real-world insights.
  • Water/Dust Protection: If you plan to use or take your USB Dongle and device outdoors, an IP65, 66, 67 or 68 rated device offer different levels of water and dust “Ingress Protection”.

What are the best Bluetooth adapters/dongles in 2023?

We do not dedicate ourselves to testing and reviewing electronics, but we have found that LaptopMag offers a succinct Top 5!

You can read more on the latest deals on our dongles comparison page.

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