Wireless headphones, speakers, and other tech accessories are going to be some of the hottest gifts this Christmas, but what if your brand new toys aren’t connecting via Bluetooth? Whether you’re trying to connect a wireless keyboard to a tablet, a smart watch to a phone, or a brand new laptop to a printer, here’s how to improve Bluetooth connection across your devices.
1. Clear the Obstructions
Did you know the tech in your phone that allows it to talk to other devices is named after a Danish king famous for getting rival factions to sit down and talk? The Danish warrior was called Bluetooth by friends, and when the tech was introduced back in 1997, the name seemed apt.
You might not need to get angry Vikings to communicate, but getting your phone to connect to your speakers can feel just as maddening. While Bluetooth sounds like magic, it’s not; it uses short-wavelength radio waves to transmit data over short distances. Because we’re talking about radio waves that are physically (though, invisibly, at least to us!) traveling around you, these waves can be obstructed.Anything metal or water can cause trouble (Bluetooth doesn’t travel well through these) so things like metal pipes in a wall, electrical wiring, or even your own body can set you back. If you can’t physically remove the potential obstructions, move your devices so that there’s nothing in between them. If possible, keep the transmitting device high so that the waves can travel ultra-efficiently.
2. Turn off Other Devices
You’ll rarely need to try this; because Bluetooth jumps between 42 different channels hundreds of times per second, it is virtually never interrupted by signals from cordless phones and WiFi routers. Technically, however, it can happen, so if all else fails and you’re still having trouble getting your Bluetooth devices to talk, try turning off other items with signals that might be interfering.
3. Double Check the Distance
Have you ever tried to get the coffee maker to work, only to finally realize it wasn’t plugged in? Bluetooth is similar. Make sure you keep an eye on the manufacturer’s directions. Often, you’ve simply failed to enter a PIN or swipe a slider switch on your phone.
Though most cellular and mobile devices with Bluetooth use Class 2, which has a range of ten meters (about 32 feet), there is a chance you could be trying to operate outside the recommended range. Plus, the longer the distance the signal has to travel, the greater the opportunity for interference.
4. Try Resetting Daily
Bluetooth should be able to connect to up to seven devices and shouldn’t need to be reset. However, it’s not just the radio signal itself you have to account for. Every device, no matter how simple, has some kind of application or firmware on it which can experience issues like a memory exception or some other such glitch. Daily resetting helps to sort of clear away the cobwebs and gives your multi-connected devices (such as your phone) a great chance at a strong signal.
Even if you’re not resetting daily, you should try resetting (turning the device off and on) when you do experience problems.
5. Buy New Stuff
We’ll just start by saying: you’re welcome for the excuse to buy something new! While your older stuff usually works with your newer Bluetooth devices (see below for more advice on updates), sometimes the older stuff just can’t handle the rapid rate at which Bluetooth and other tech are improving. We mean “old” by technology standards, by the way--something even two or three years old might not be working so great anymore.
The best way to keep your Bluetooth network humming is to make sure your gadgets are, if not the latest and greatest, at least fairly new.
6. Try a Bluetooth Router
If you’re finding yourself frustrated with your 10-meter distance limitation or your inability to connect more than seven devices, you might fall in love with a Bluetooth router. Doubling as a reception extender, a router can connect devices at much longer distances than normal, helps to get around issues like interference, and even enables you to manage your devices via the internet.
7. Update, Update, Update
The most common updates that need to take place are on your phone. The overall operating system has to deal with things like memory constraints, hardware issues, and interrupts, all of which are happening at the same time. Since there’s so much opportunity for short-circuiting, we recommend that you keep the firmware on your phone updated.
It’s not just your phone, however. It’s not common knowledge, but you can also upgrade the firmware on your other devices. Check with the manufacturer as it will often have updates available that will help you device respond better to newer iterations of Bluetooth or newer tech you’re trying to connect.
No more Bluetooth problems for you; these seven tips should have your network humming. Make sure your distances are appropriate and you don’t have interference, reset your devices daily, keep them updated, try a Bluetooth router, and don’t hesitate to buy new products when you need them, and you’ll be well on your way to no more interrupted playlists, print jobs, or phone calls!