…and other common Bluetooth annoyances.
1. Interference issues
From wireless ergonomic keyboards to hands-free headsets, Bluetooth technology has fundamentally changed the way we work and play. No longer must we waste precious minutes in our days untangling wires, and — even better! — all of our favorite Bluetooth technology will pair in an instant with any Bluetooth-enabled devices. No lengthy procedures required.
There is, um, just one little problem. Sometimes — and just sometimes — those Bluetooth devices interfere with other technologies. In this article we’ll take a deeper look at just why this is and make a few suggestions for keeping all of your favorite devices on good terms.
To communicate between your devices, Bluetooth sends signals over a 2.4GHz radio frequency. This becomes problematic when other nearby devices are also using that frequency. Wi-Fi is perhaps the biggest and most problematic example, as are other Bluetooth receivers and devices, which can interfere with one another. That said, even microwaves can cause Bluetooth interference with your devices. So can Direct Satellite Service (DSS), 2.4GHz and 5GHz phones, wireless speakers, external monitors, baby monitors, and really any wireless device that uses Bluetooth technology.
Still, in theory at least, interference between Bluetooth technologies should be relatively rare with properly designed devices, because their signals are relatively weak — 1 milliwatt, as compared to cell phones, which emit about 3 milliwatts. What’s more, most of today’s Bluetooth technology use what’s called spread-spectrum frequency hopping. That is, they rotate between 70 randomly chose frequencies within their range, changing 1,600 times a second. This makes it unlikely that two devices will share the same frequency. And when they do, they won’t for very long. Other Bluetooth technology also employs what is called AFH, a technology that identifies “bad” channels (i.e. those that are already in use) and instigates a switch.
Still, frequency interference does exist. So what should you do about it?
How to Stop Frequency Interference
- Remove All Barriers: Certain building materials can get in the way of weaker signals like Bluetooth. Metal, bulletproof glass, concrete and plaster are particularly bad, and marble, plaster and brick aren’t great easy. So if you’re really struggling with interference, your first step should be to move your Bluetooth devices away from these materials. That means no brick walls between you and your devices, and definitely no metal desks!
- Change Router Channel: If you have an Apple router and you’re constantly getting interference with your WiFi, try rebooting it. Upon restart, the station will search for a new channel. Specifically, a different channel than the one your Bluetooth devices are using to communicate. If you don’t have an Apple router, you may need to instead go into your router settings and try changing the channel manually. Experiment with different channels to see which one works best.
- Move Closer to Your Router: If you often find that you’re getting interference when talking on a wireless headset while on a WiFi call (you’ll know because you’ll hear static), try moving closer to your router. This will give you a more robust WiFi connection, so the Bluetooth frequency can’t overpower it.
- Get Away From Microwaves and Fluorescent Lighting: Both emit frequencies of 2.4GHz, and moving away from them will distance you from the source.
While these interventions can definitely help, there actually shouldn’t be much need for them. This is because technology has advanced to the point where interference shouldn’t be much of a problem. If your problems persist, then there is probably something wrong with one of your Bluetooth devices and you should take it in to a specialist.
2. Connection issues
One of the most common questions we get about Bluetooth is also one of the most basic: How to connect keyboards, mice and other peripherals to your computer. It should be as simple as pushing a button, right? But because our wireless devices have to connect to computers of all ages and operating systems, things can get a little hairy from time to time, especially with Windows 10. Turns out it involves several buttons, multiple control panels, and even a pass code. So without further ado, have a look at this step-by-step video that walks you through the steps to connect a wireless Bluetooth keyboard to Windows 10.
Have any funny Bluetooth interference stories? Regale us in the comments below!