What is Bluetooth printing and how does it work?

8. June 2012 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Technology News, Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

bluetooth You may have heard of Bluetooth and seen people in public wearing Bluetooth earpieces talking on their cell phones. In recent years, Bluetooth technology has blossomed and has started to become more and more mainstream. While earpieces are still the most popular implementation of Bluetooth, it has found its way into the workings of other electronics like printers.

Bluetooth is simply a wireless technology that allows two or more electronics like computers or, say, a phone and an earpiece, to communicate without wires. Bluetooth uses radio signals in the 2.4 GHz range and comes in two classes. One class is capable of transmitting signals as far as 33 feet while the other allows for the transmission of data more than 300 feet.

Bluetooth is used in printers to allow for effortless cordless and wireless printing. Bluetooth printing provides an easier way for your computer to pass on print jobs to your printer without the need for any physical connections. Even if your computer and your Bluetooth printer are in different rooms, you can send print jobs at a data transmission speed of up to 3 Mbps, which is quite fast.

Some printers are sold Bluetooth-compatible while others require adapters. Bluetooth adapters will work with almost any type of printer, including ones that normally require a wire to connect with computers. If you need an adapter, find one that fits your printer model, and follow the manufacturer directions for installing the adapter. Usually, this involves inserting the adapter into the printer's USB port. Make sure your computer has Bluetooth functionality before continuing.

After enabling your Bluetooth printer, turn on your printer and your computer. Go to "Bluetooth Devices" under the Control Panel to add your printer. This may involve a discovery process, so be sure to check "Allow Bluetooth devices to connect to this computer." If everything goes smoothly, your computer and your printer should detect each other and make a connection while they are both in discovery mode. Otherwise, add your printer manually by selecting "Add Device" under the devices tab, or use the "Add Printers" wizard under "Printers and Faxes." When prompted, select the choice for "Bluetooth printer." If you are using Windows Vista, you can find your Printers folder by opening your Control Panel and clicking on "Hardware and Sound."

For your computer to properly connect with the Bluetooth printer, you may have to install drivers or operating system updates. Be cautious, and always stay vigilant to ensure you do not download and install any malware.

Your Bluetooth printer and the computer(s) you connect to it will together form a personal-area network (PAN). Within this Bluetooth network, it will be possible to print from multiple computers to a single printer. This printer network will work much the same as if you had formed the network through your home WiFi.

Most Bluetooth printers only use the weaker class of signals that only travel about 30 feet, so don't count on printing remotely from very far away.

The ease of using Bluetooth has its downfalls. Bluetooth devices are infamous for being able to connect to various networks easily. This has sparked concerns about the security of Bluetooth networks. It may be possible for someone to eavesdrop on or interfere with the radio signals to and from your Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth printing and other uses of Bluetooth should not be considered entirely safe. You may try to beef up the security of your Bluetooth network using encryption codes or passkeys. However, this is not a failsafe method of protecting your data, and an intrusion is still possible.   

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