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Best Bluetooth Printer Guide - Bluetooth Printer Adapters

best bluetooth printers

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth mobile wireless technology has become one of the leading technologies for wireless communication world wide. Bluetooth Technology is a short-range wireless technology that simplifies communication between internet devices like mobile phones, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), computers and printers.

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Bluetooth technology allows phones, computers, PDAs and other electronic devices to easily communicate with the other Bluetooth enabled devices nearby. The range of Bluetooth wireless technology networking is limited to a short range of about 30 feet.

Bluetooth utilizes radio waves, in the non-licensed range of 2.4 Gigahertz. The Bluetooth wireless system has been designed with the intention of providing a secure and inexpensive way to connect with and exchange information between other Bluetooth devices, all without the need of wires.

One of the best features of Bluetooth wireless technology is that all Bluetooth enabled devices function on a standard protocol. This means that all transmission of data and voice signals between two Bluetooth devices, even if they are produced by different manufacturers, is straightforward and simple to implement.

Other advantages of Bluetooth are: fast data transfers; communication with other Bluetooth devices that are not in a direct line of sight (as required by the infra-red protocol); inexpensive circuitry and components; and the ability to transmit both data and voice concurrently.

Bluetooth Printer

While some of the newer printer models come with Bluetooth capabilities, almost any printer (even an older nine pin printer) can be turned into a wireless printer by using a Bluetooth Printer Adapter. This makes printer sharing exceptionally convenient by removing the need for any special configuration or wires on a typical network.

Desktop or laptop computers that do not have an adapter built in can be enabled for wireless by installing a USB Bluetooth Adapter. This device is usually plugged into the USB port of a computer and permits full synchronization between the computer and the printer, PDA or wireless phone.

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Tips on Using a Bluetooth Printer

If you are considering using a Bluetooth enabled printer there are some considerations to be aware of:

1. Limited range: With Bluetooth enabled printers, the range of distance within which printing is possible is about 30 feet (depending on the hardware configuration). More power is needed for a longer distance, which could drain the battery in a mobile device fairly quickly.

2. Printing from a mobile device: If you need to print a photo or document from your cell phone or PDA to a Bluetooth enabled printer, you will first need to search for your Bluetooth enabled printer on your mobile phone. You should find it in the option called BT (Bluetooth) Discovery which shows all available Bluetooth devices. Then you can select the printer and click on "Print". However be aware that the Discovery stage makes your phone or handheld device accessible to anyone and everyone within your vicinity, which can lead to security issues (see Tip # 4 below).

3. Printers with a Pictbridge USB port: Some printers have a Pictbridge USB port which is compatible with any Bluetooth adapter. Pictbridge is a hardware interface technology that enables your printer to access and print images and files from your mobile phone or PDA. To perform Pictbridge printing you need to:

  • Connect the USB device
  • Wait until both the devices recognize each other
  • Select the images or files you want printed from the menu that appears
  • The menu also offers options to change the size, layout and resolution of the images
  • Select 'Print'

4. Bluetooth security: Avoid setting your Bluetooth enabled device to a 'discoverable mode' which makes your IP address available to any other Bluetooth device that is within range. Hackers often direct attacks at mobile phones, PDAs and computers; if you connect even once to their device, chances are the hacker can keep connecting to your device and use it for malicious purposes - like sending a virus, crashing your operating system, gathering personal information or deleting important file.

Bluetooth security is essentially based on devices generating a secure connection through a pairing process. The three basic elements below are good practices that will safeguard your Bluetooth wireless technology from attack:

  • When pairing devices for the first time, do so in private at home or in the office and avoid public places;
  • Always use an eight character alphanumeric PIN (personal identification number) code as the minimum. The more characters within the code, the more difficult it is to crack;
  • If your devices become unpaired in a public place, wait until you are in a private, secure location before re-pairing them.

5. Enable encryption: As another security precaution it is always best to enable encryption for any Bluetooth transfer that you may make. In order to enable encryption in any Bluetooth enabled device, you need to use the Bluetooth connection Wizard (usually present on Windows XP operating systems).

6. Keep firmware updated: Ensure that your mobile phone's firmware is always kept updated. This is essential to guarantee optimal speed and agility in your mobile phone while printing through your wireless printers.

A Bluetooth enabled printer is an excellent option for mobile users who want to use wireless technology and avoid computer wires and cables. In addition to improving safety as a result of eliminating the clutter of wires along with the associated connections, wireless Bluetooth also offers a number of convenient advantages. As long as you are within 30 feet Bluetooth is ideal for simple, wireless file sharing, transferring images, for printing, data exchange and synchronization.

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About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile