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Understanding and troubleshooting Bluetooth wireless technology (Windows 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP)

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This document pertains to Bluetooth-enabled HP and Compaq computers.
Bluetooth wireless technology allows wireless communication between a Bluetooth-enabled computer and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, and comes pre-installed on some HP computers. This document contains general information to help you understand Bluetooth wireless technology, its uses, terminology, and basic setup processes. You can find more detailed information by following the links provided in each section.
If Bluetooth is new to you, you may wonder why you would use it. The purpose of using Bluetooth is to make it easy to wirelessly communicate between two Bluetooth-enabled devices. The following list provides some examples of how you can use Bluetooth.
  • Wireless mouse and keyboards - Wirelessly connect a mouse and keyboard to your computer.
  • Personal digital assistants (PDAs) - Transfer files between your computer and your PDA.
  • Cell phones - Transfer files between your cell phone and your computer.
  • Digital cameras - Transfer files from your digital camera to your computer.
  • Printers - Print from your computer to your Bluetooth-enabled printer.
  • Headsets - Listen to your favorite music without disturbing others or entangling yourself in wires.
  • Computers - Share files between two Bluetooth-enabled computers.
Bluetooth is a highly secure wireless protocol that uses radio frequencies to connect Bluetooth-enabled computers and devices to each other. Bluetooth simplifies communications between Bluetooth-enabled computers and devices by creating personal area networks (PANs). To create a Bluetooth PAN, you must have at least two devices that contain Bluetooth chips.
The operating range for a given device depends on the device class. One type of Bluetooth devices is primarily used with peripherals, such as a headset, mouse, or keyboard. The operating range is up to about 3 feet (1 meter). Another type is primarily used in computers and mobile devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, or MP3 players. The operating range is about 30 feet (10 meters). Please refer to your Bluetooth device documentation or website for specific information about the operating range for your particular device.
Not all Bluetooth interfaces are the same. There are different versions of the Bluetooth drivers with different interfaces. When using Bluetooth on HP computers, be sure to download and use the latest Bluetooth drivers. See the Downloading Bluetooth drivers section of this document for more information.

Identifying Bluetooth-enabled computers

Bluetooth software is part of the Windows operating system; however, that does not mean that Bluetooth hardware is installed on a particular HP computer. To determine if your computer has Bluetooth hardware installed, refer to the product specifications for your particular computer model.
You can also follow the steps below to determine if your computer has Bluetooth hardware installed.
  1. Windows 8.1, 8 - Press the Windows + W keys on the keyboard, type device manager into the Search field for Settings, and then click Device Manager from the list of results.
    Windows 7 and Vista - Click Start , type device manager into the Search field, and then select Device Manager from the list.
    Windows XP - Click Start, click Run, type devmgmt.msc in the Open field, and then click OK.
  2. On the Device Manager window, double-click to expand the Network adapters list and look for Bluetooth.
    Figure 1: Device Manager
    Image of Device Manager with network adapters category expanded showing Bluetooth devices
  3. If there are Bluetooth devices listed in Device Manager, your computer has Bluetooth hardware installed.
    If there are no Bluetooth devices listed in Device manager, your computer does not have Bluetooth hardware installed. You can add Bluetooth to your computer by installing Bluetooth hardware. Installing Bluetooth hardware can be as simple as inserting a Bluetooth USB dongle into an open USB port and waiting for Windows to detect and setup the new hardware.

Downloading Bluetooth drivers

HP computers are not always compatible with all Bluetooth devices. You may experience connection issues on newer Bluetooth devices if you are using older Bluetooth device drivers on your computer. HP recommends downloading and installing the latest Bluetooth drivers for your Bluetooth-enabled computer.
Go to the Drivers and Download page for your HP product to download and install the latest Bluetooth driver.
If you installed third-party Bluetooth hardware on your computer, visit the hardware manufacturer’s website to check for Bluetooth driver updates.
See the Obtaining Software and Drivers support document for more information about keeping your computer's software and drivers up-to-date.

Purchasing Bluetooth-enabled devices

Before purchasing a device to use with your Bluetooth-enabled computer, make sure the device you purchase is Bluetooth-enabled. All you have to do is look for the Bluetooth symbol on the device packaging. If the symbol is there, then the device is Bluetooth-enabled.
Bluetooth products have Bluetooth experience icons on the packaging to make it easy to determine which Bluetooth-enabled devices will operate with each other.
There are five different Bluetooth experience icons, which are listed below:
  • Print - The print icon means that you can print wirelessly from the device via Bluetooth. For example, you can send a file to a printer from a cell phone.
  • Input - The input icon means that you can wirelessly control and input data to a Bluetooth-enabled device. For example, you can connect a keyboard to your computer.
  • Headset - The headset icon means that you can talk on your phone while keeping your hands free. For example, you can participate in a conference call at work while keeping your hands free to take notes or type on the computer.
  • Transfer - The transfer icon means that you can wirelessly send and receive data, text, or pictures. For example, you can send a picture from your camera phone to your computer.
  • Music - The music icon means that you can listen to music wirelessly. For example, you can listen to your mp3 player through your headset.
For more information about available Bluetooth devices, go to Using Bluetooth Products web page (in English).

Setting up a Bluetooth device

Before setting up Bluetooth devices, it is helpful to understand the following terminology:
  • Discoverable mode - Allows a Bluetooth device to broadcast a signal so that it can be detected by other nearby Bluetooth devices.
  • Searching - The process by which one Bluetooth device attempts to locate another Bluetooth device that is broadcasting a signal in the discoverable mode.
  • Pairing - The process by which two Bluetooth-enabled devices use a passkey to establish a link between them for the first time.
  • Passkey - A passkey, sometimes called a passcode or pairing code, is a series of unique numbers that allow two Bluetooth-enabled devices to communicate with each other in a secure manner.
To set up a new Bluetooth-enabled device on your computer, you must make the new device discoverable, search for the new device from your computer, and then pair the computer with the new device. Some devices require using a passkey to establish a connection, others do not. After pairing the Bluetooth device with the computer, be sure that you go back and deselect discovery mode so that your computer cannot be seen by nearby Bluetooth devices.
For detailed information about setting up Bluetooth devices on your computer, see:

Special features of HP and Compaq Computers with Windows 8.1

Certain HP model PCs with the latest Windows 8.1 drivers have the ability to perform special functions when paired with a Bluetooth cell phone. These functions include:
  1. Reproducing the audio of a call through the PC's speakers via Bluetooth.
  2. Controlling the audio of a cell phone through the PC when the phone has a headset connected via Bluetooth.
  3. Transferring files from different formats via Bluetooth.
NOTE:These functions are only available after downloading the latest Windows 8.1 Windows Updates. Drivers for Windows 8 might not support functions 1 and 2.

Fixing Bluetooth cell phone problems

Follow these guidelines if you experience problems playing audio, making calls or transferring files from a cell phone to your PC via Bluetooth.
  • Windows 8.1: Make sure you have the correct Windows 8.1 Bluetooth drivers installed on your computer. Go to the Drivers and Download page for your HP product to download and install the latest Bluetooth driver for Windows 8.1.
  • Electromagnetic interference: Make sure there is no electromagnetic interference from other devices such as a microwave, or cordless telephone. All wireless communication devices, including Bluetooth, that use radio frequencies to connect to each other are vulnerable to electromagnetic interference. Minimize electromagnetic interference by moving other devices away from the area.
  • Distance: Move the Bluetooth-enabled computer and Bluetooth-enabled device closer together. Bluetooth-enabled devices operate within specific distance guidelines. Please refer to your Bluetooth device documentation or website for specific information about the operating range for your particular device.
  • Multiple Bluetooth devices: Use only one Bluetooth-enabled device at a time. Using multiple Bluetooth-enabled devices at a time may cause the devices to lose their connection. For example, if attempts to use a Bluetooth headset to listen to music on your computer fail while trying to send pictures from your Bluetooth camera, you are most likely trying to use too many Bluetooth connections at once. Try using only one Bluetooth service at a time.
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