Types of Bluetooth, what are the differences?
Bluetooth technology is the foundation that has enabled a revolution in wireless connectivity. The different types of Bluetooth require little power to transmit audio or information between two devices. It's developed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, a group that associates a conglomerate of companies belonging to the world of telecommunications, computers and electronic equipment.
Bluetooth allows data transmission between two devices located at a certain distance, using a wireless system that works with a bandwidth of 2.4 GHz. We can use it to send or receive any type of file, such as music, data or videos without the need to use cables.
Origins of Bluetooth technology
Its origins date back to 1994, when the Ericsson company began researching a new method for sending files over telephones, looking for a way to keep cost and power consumption low. It's named after Harald Blatand, a Norse king known for his ease of communication, and whose English translation would be Harold Bluetooth.
Later, in 1999, a special group was created to make advances in Bluetooth technology: the Special Interest Group (SIG). This partnership brought together several leading companies in the technology and telecommunications industries, such as Nokia, Intel, Ericsson, Toshiba and IBM, which were later joined by Microsoft and Motorola, among others.
In the beginning this technology worked mainly on cell phones, as it provides a good option for transferring files for free. Nowadays, its use is widespread and we can find it in many electrical devices, such as televisions, Bluetooth speakers or headphones, GPS navigators, etc., and it's even present in the most modern household appliances.
Transmission speed and connectivity range
At the birth of Bluetooth technology, it could transmit data at a speed of 720 kbs, an amazing capacity for the time but which today seems derisory. After several generations, the different types of current bluetooth have speeds of up to 24Mbs.
The connection range is another aspect that has improved considerably. Initially operating at distances of less than one meter, they can now exceed 100 meters.
Types of Bluetooth
Bluetooth devices have two fundamental parts for their operation. The first is a radio device that is responsible for transmitting the signal. Secondly, a CPU is responsible for processing the digital signals. Bluetooth devices are classified into four classes according to their capability:
- Class 1: They have a connectivity range of up to 100 meters and a power consumption of 100 mW.
- Class 2: Its connectivity range reaches 20 meters and has a power of 2.5 mW.
- Class 3: Their range reaches 1 meter and they have a power of 1mW.
- Class 4: They have a maximum range of 0.5 meters and a power of 0.5 mW.
Bluetooth technology versions
Bluetooth technology has several versions that have improved its performance considerably:
The first bluetooth receivers had version v1.0 and v1.0B. Today they are already obsolete, as they presented several connectivity problems between devices. These versions were followed by Bluetooth 1.1 and 1.2, which began to be recognized as standard media for wireless data transmission. The transmission rate of the Bluetooth 1 versions was around 721 kbps.
These types of Bluetooth enabled faster and easier connection to users. They achieved automatic connection between various mobile devices, thanks to the addition of a menu that made it possible to select and detect other nearby Bluetooth-capable equipment. In addition, they added a higher transmission rate, hence the concept added to these types of Bluetooth: BR/EDR (Basic rate/Enhanced Data Rate).
In BR it was possible to transmit at 1 Mbps, while in EDR Bluetooth, the transfer increased up to 2Mbps, and on rare occasions achieved a transfer close to 3Mbps. The bluetooth 2.1 update brought an improvement focused on user security: Secure Simple Pairing (SSP). Better data filtering is enabled. They also introduced Oler Subrating technology, which enabled lower energy consumption.
Bluetooth 3.0 bluetooth types, launched in 2009, added HS (High Speed) capability, which made it possible to transfer heavier data, such as videos or audio files. With faster transfer speeds of up to 24 Mbps, Bluetooth 3.0 revolutionized the use of the technology. They also added as an alternative the use of wifi for the transfer of very heavy data packets. This new feature was called MAC/PHY alternative.
This version was released in 2010 and featured Bluetooth 4.1 and Bluetooth 4.2 updates. Among the improvements of these Bluetooth types is the novelty of Bluetooth Smart, which, apart from handling the previous features as Bluetooth HS, adds Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. This generates a lower power consumption, something very useful for those devices designed for long use.
With the inclusion of the BLE concept, which enables longer synchronization, the reach of Bluetooth 4.1 and Bluetooth 4.2 technologies reached other devices, such as medical equipment or performance trackers for athletes. The transfer rate was also improved and is capable of transmitting from 25 Mbps up to 32 Mbps.
Bluetooth 4.2 features:
The Bluetooth Smart term introduced with Bluetooth 4.1 and Bluetooth 4.2 was named so because it handles information more intelligently. Instead of maintaining a constant flow of information, the Bluetooth Smart classes focus on sending small packets of data when needed, as well as switching the connection to sleep mode when not in use.
These are the latest Bluetooth versions to be released, and have been available since the end of 2016. As for Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility, it's not yet adaptable by the majority of devices on the market. However, it's expected that most smartphones launched in the last quarter of the year will already be enabled with these technologies.
Bluetooth 4.2 vs. 5: The new version considerably improves the data transfer rate, double that of Bluetooth 4.1 and Bluetooth 4.2. It also adds up to four times the range of connectivity possible in previous versions.
This type of Bluetooth also has the peculiarity of supporting multiple simultaneous connections for transmission between different Bluetooth devices.
The connection between different bluetooth devices with different versions is possible as long as they are attached to equipment with the latest bluetooth technology. In the case of Bluetooth 4, because they include a new protocol called BLE, we must look for equipment that is specially designed to handle Bluetooth Smart enhancements.
Types of Bluetooth for PC? Devices with the Bluetooth Smart Ready seal will be able to synchronize seamlessly using this version, as well as with bluetooth devices of older versions. We also found some Bluetooth Smart Device labeled devices, which will be able to work only with other Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth LE enabled devices.
Bluetooth codecs: Which is the best Bluetooth?
All Bluetooth receivers handle certain encoding algorithms necessary to compress large audio files. Since we are talking about a wireless technology, compression is the only way to send heavy audio files for real-time perception.
The efficiency of the codec determines the quality of the sound we will hear. The standard codec that all bluetooth devices designed for sound transmission have is the SBC but there are other higher quality alternatives, such as AAC or aptX.
We have written a detailed guide about bluetooth codecs on our culturasonora page. Don't hesitate to visit if you are looking for information about the best Bluetooth enabled audio equipment, how to connect Bluetooth headphones to TV, etc.