In our modern world of technology, Bluetooth connectivity can potentially be a necessity; it is certainly a very convenient way of connecting your PC or phone to a wide variety of devices wirelessly and with ease. The standard now is for just about every device that hits the market to be Bluetooth compatible right out of the box. However, even just a few years ago, this was not the case. That means you may have a slightly older generation laptop which still functions remarkably well and yet is missing that ever-so-convenient amenity of Bluetooth.
As with everything, there existed a lag time wherein you either owned a pre or a post: a laptop Bluetooth capable or one not. And, as with everything, that time has passed. Do not go out and purchase a new laptop for the exclusive reason of obtaining Bluetooth connectivity; there are Bluetooth adapters. But you knew that. Did you know how they work? Did you know how many there are? Technology is complex and, just as there exists a myriad of laptop specifications and makes that all function well for different reasons, Bluetooth adapters come in a variety of different types.
Bluetooth adapters are small, USB powered devices that can look like flash drives or Wi-Fi adapters. They can enrich the life of any audiophile with a good stereo system and no way to wirelessly send music to it. They can also be very beneficial to businessmen who need to make video conference calls or people with smart home setups. However, it’s important to know what kind of adapter is best for you and what make and model meet those specifications and perform the most reliably.
If you are in the market for a Bluetooth adapter, you must first consider what device it is you wish to make compatible. It would be a shame to purchase an adapter with the express purpose of connecting your various computers, phones, and speakers with one another and discover that the adapter itself is not compatible with one or any of your existing devices. While most Bluetooth adapters on the market come out of the box able to communicate with Windows, Mac and Chromebook connectivity can be a bit of a challenge. If you operate one of those devices and are looking for connectivity, the best option would be to invest in a versatile adapter with diverse capabilities. Our list will specify each adapters compatibility.
The installation itself can either come with a degree of ease, i.e plug and go, while other devices, especially when dealing with non-Windows OS compatibility, can require the installation of drivers or software via a CD or the product manufacturer website.
As with all technologies, Bluetooth has been improved upon and redesigned a few times to make it perform stronger and faster. It is important to consider the version when purchasing a new Bluetooth adapter as, naturally, some perform better than others.
It comes highly recommended to steer clear of any Bluetooth device older than version 4.0 because of the quality at that level being sub-par compared to newer devices. The capabilities of anything below version 4 are going to be weak and disappointing. However, versions 4.0 and above exhibit more range and strength extending your device possibilities and how far away you can travel with them before losing signal.
Additionally, perhaps the most important feature related to the version of the adapter is that the older the model version, the more energy it will absorb from your laptop.
Class of Adapter
Bluetooth adapters come in two classes. This is similar but unrelated to its version and just as crucial to picking the right device for your individual needs. It essentially comes down to distance as class one is more commercial and class two more consumer. Class one, the more robust and expensive class is very suited to long distances. Class two, the more micro, cost-effective option, is best used in close range.
The actual transmission distances, for those of you who want to compare on a meticulous level, are up to about 330 feet for class one, and only approximately 60 feet for class two. While these numbers can be revelatory, know that device transmission range is not indicative of device connectivity performance. Often, adapters which sport identical max transmission distances will vary greatly on quality in other aspects.
Now, with all of the technical minutia out of the way, here are the best Bluetooth adapter on the market in 2018.
Best Bluetooth Adapter for Windows User: ASUS USB Adapter
- Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter
- USB 2.0, Up to 3Mbps and Over 10 meters in free space
- Frequency Band: 2.4~2.4835GHz unlicensed ISM band
- OS Support: Windows 8 , 32bit/64bit / Windows 7 , 32bit/64bit / Windows XP , 32bit/64bit
Overall rating: 3.9 out of 5
This little, convenient device can be the perfect device for consistent Windows 10 users who need Bluetooth connectivity. This Asus USB model adapter is a 4.0 version compatible with every Windows OS and nothing else. This device cannot be used to make Mac OS, Linux, or Google Chrome OS Bluetooth capable. However, if you are a dedicated Microsoft user who has little to no intention of switching OS’ in the near future, this is the perfect adapter for you. The Asus supports Bluetooth 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, and 4.0, is very reasonably priced and a breeze to install. For Windows 10 users, all the work necessary for the installation of this device is as complicated as plugging it into the USB port.
This Asus adapter features a data transfer rate of 3mbps and a maximum range of 33 feet. The Asus driver support that comes with the purchase of this little adapter is wonderfully comprehensive so that you can stay up to date as Bluetooth and OS versions evolve.
Overall, this Asus is an affordable, fast and reliable adapter; the best value a Windows user can get in a market which heavily caters toward Microsoft.
Best Mac and Linux Bluetooth Adapter: Kinivo BTD-400
- Latest Bluetooth specification v4.0 Class 2 with low energy technology; Fully compatible with older Bluetooth equipment
- Compatible with 32 bit and 64 bit Windows 10 / Windows 8.1/ Windows 8 / Windows 7 / Vista / XP
- Wireless range of up to 30 feet (10 meters)
Overall rating: 4.1 out of 5
The Kinivo BTD-400 is an extremely compatible and compact USB device that supports both 32bit and 64bit Windows 10 along with Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, Ubuntu, and Raspberry Pi. And, it is capable of all of this connectivity by way of the simple plug and play installation that makes these little adapters so conventient.
The incredibly compact design of this particular model is so low profile that you hardly remember its there when operating your laptop as usual. It certainly doesn’t interfere with the surrounding ports or create an annoying protuberance at the side of your PC. Further contributing to its low profile, the Kinivo has a small energy footprint which makes it very efficient for travel and extended use.
Kinivo BTD-400 is capable of a wide range of Bluetooth connectivity including BLE technology which enables this little USB adapter to speak to Bluetooth smart devices such as Fitbit fitness trackers, Apple watches, iBeacons and more. As previously mentioned, this market is aimed at Windows users by design; however, this adapter is the absolute best value available to Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS users.
Best Long Range Bluetooth Adapter: Avantree Long Range Bluetooth Adapter
- Enable Bluetooth Audio compatibility
- No lip sync delay
- Long range & cd-like quality sound
- Plug-n-play & easy usage
- Simultaneous voice music for gaming
Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5
If your needs in terms of distance are a bit more demanding than what the previous entries can offer than this Avantree is most definitely your best bet. This model is compatible with all Windows OS as well as Mac OS, Linux, Chromebook, and PS4. Furthermore, this Bluetooth device is one of the few long-range devices to offer a plug and play installation system which requires no CDs or drivers to get in operation.
The long-range Avantree is a v4.1 Bluetooth model with a transmission distance of 60 feet. This model is exceptionally compatible with Roxa Plus, Clipper Plus, Apico, and Avantree audition pro programs; and, the newest version features low latency technology that enables the use of real-time apps and video streaming. Those are some advanced features which, if you employ a diverse and involved utilization of Bluetooth, are absolute pleasures to have in an adapter.
The higher performance capabilities of this device are made evident in its price tag; at $30, the Avantree long range adapter is almost double the other entries on this list. However, it really is worth the investment for such a capable adapter with which to far extend your wireless connectivity lifestyle.
These Bluetooth adapters are convenient and mostly inexpensive solutions to older generation laptops or PCs which don’t feature the capability that we all so enjoy in our modern, connected world. These premium devices will effortlessly enable you to communicate wirelessly to your smartphone, stereo speakers, or gaming headphones where it was previously impossible.
Don’t forget to analyze all of your equipment and needs prior to making a decision so that the adapter you end up with is able to satisfy all of those specifications and do its job in making your life easier rather than harder. Hopefully, one of the carefully cultivated entries on this list meet your distinct needs and can contribute to bringing your computing experience into the future.