Tag Archives: bluetooth

What is Multi-Point Bluetooth?

It is certainly advantageous to live a wire-free lifestyle—especially with Bluetooth connectivity. However, there is the experience of having to pair earbuds or headphones to consider. Most of the time, the pairing is difficult, takes up considerable time, and is not intuitive. Multi-point Bluetooth helps with these concerns.

Using multi-point Bluetooth, it is possible to connect one pair of earbuds or headphones to multiple devices at once. It may not be necessary to execute the annoying pairing process. Moreover, it allows telephone calls to come through even when the laptop or tablet is playing music through the headphones.

Regular Bluetooth has its deficiencies. The pairing process is troublesome, and switching between audio sources is an incredibly difficult exercise. That is why most users connect their earbuds and headphones to their phones or laptops once and leave them undisturbed. For them, it is more convenient this way than to pair them anew with another device.

Although the Bluetooth Special Interest Group introduced Bluetooth 4.0 with multi-point capability back in 2010, most earbuds and headphones available today lack multi-point capability. But those available with multi-point capability are superb performers.

For instance, a user wearing wireless earbuds is on a video call on a laptop. As the call ends, they decide to go on a jog, taking their phone with them. They start streaming their workout playlist on the phone. With a multi-point capability, they do not need to go through the Bluetooth pairing process, and they can enjoy the music right away through their earbuds.

What happens if a call comes through? Bluetooth multi-point can interrupt an audio streaming process. It can pause the music while the phone switches automatically. Once the call is over or the user chooses to ignore it, the headphones can switch back to the music.

However, it is not possible to play audio from two devices simultaneously when on multi-point Bluetooth. Although multi-point Bluetooth technology sounds fantastic, it is not yet a perfected technique.

When a device is set up with Bluetooth, it actually connects to a piconet or a tiny network. In practice, a piconet is made up of two devices—a single audio source and a pair of headphones.

The headphones in this piconet act as a leader. It dictates how and when the connection operates, and the audio source, whether the phone or the laptop, behaves only as a follower. The follower listens to any command the leader of the headphones sends—like play or pause—and complies with any rules—such as bitrate constraints or audio codecs—that the headphone sets.

With multi-point Bluetooth, a supporting pair of headphones has a piconet that includes a number of extra followers, or audio sources. But different models of headphones, headsets, or earbuds can have different types of multi-point capability. Typically, four types exist—Simple, Advanced, Triple, and Proprietary.

Most consumer headphones support the Simple multi-point capability, allowing connection with two sources. Business headsets support the Advanced multi-point capability. Although able to connect with two sources, any interrupted call is automatically put on hold. Triple connectivity allows connecting with three sources. Apple AirPods and Galaxy Buds of Samsung typically use the Proprietary capability.

Neo Smartpen N2 Connects with Bluetooth

Although computers and keyboards have taken out much of the efforts of writing, some situations still demand we keep this skill alive. Then, some people are unwilling to give up the feeling of writing with a pen to pounding on a keyboard. Engineers have tried to modernize the humble writing instrument with the Bluetooth pen of Livescribe. Now, an improved Smartpen N2 is in the market.

Neo Smartpen N2 has a sleeker design compared to that of Livescribe. According to the manufacturer, the pen has a shape users will find more comfortable and it is lighter than most smartpens in the market. Without the cap, Neo Smartpen N2 is only 22gms as against the Livescribe, which weighs 34gms. Although the difference is not much, to someone who writes extensively with a pen, this could count for a lot.

An ARM 9 dual-core Processor powers the Smartpen N2, which sports a built-in 90MB NAND flash drive. The pen connects via Bluetooth to a tablet or phone. However, it works even without them. N2 has a built-in camera that captures 120 pictures-per-second while recording about 1,000 pages of notes to store in its memory. Later, you can synchronize this content over to another device.

To conserve battery, Smartpen N2 turns itself off automatically when it detects idle time and turns on to be ready for writing. This convenient feature helps to conserve battery and the pen can write for about five continuous hours before it has to be recharged. A full recharge takes about two hours.

The entire Smartpen N2 writing system has three parts. The first is the pen itself, to be followed with the special paper, which records the motion of the pen. Then there is the app, which translates these motions into an image on the tablet’s screen. The app can also send the notes to popular services such as Dropbox or Evernote. Neo Notes app is available for free for Android and iOS phones and tablets.

Both Livescribe 3 and Smartpen N2 translate their ink notes scrawled on special paper for capturing them in digital form. However, the Equil Smartpen 2 uses a sensor that you can clip onto the top of any kind of paper you are writing on. While both Equil and Neo N2 are cross-platform compatible, apps available for Android and iOS, Livescribe 3 remains an iOS-only device.

Apart from recording written notes in the form of images, Neo N2 can also record voice memos in real-time, simultaneously as you write. Other features of this amazing pen include translating features that convert handwritten notes into text, after you have selected the language. Additionally, you only have to draw a check mark on the mail icon in the corner of your page and the app will email the page attached as a PDF. At the same time, the app will synchronize any new notes you make automatically to your Evernote account.

The only thing limiting the appeal of Neo Smartpen N2 is its need for special paper. Therefore, this is a device for serious writers only and not meant for scribblers.

Add Bluetooth to any speaker

using bluetooth on any speakerMany of us have old unused powered speakers stashed away somewhere. Even if they were to be used, long snaking wires would have to be laid, depending on how far away they were to be placed from the amplifier. In this era of Bluetooth, we are spoiled by the ease with which we can connect – without wires. In fact, Bluetooth allows us to connect not only two phones, but also computers, mice, keyboards, tablets, headphones, fitness trackers and so many more gadgets. However, Bluetooth audio remains the most popular application among all the above.

Bluetooth audio allows you to pair a speaker or speakers with any device, such as a phone, computer, tablet or any other, so that you have an audio connection – sans wires. Different types of Bluetooth speakers are available in the market. However, good Bluetooth speakers are quite expensive. The only advantage with these wireless Bluetooth speakers is that they will not be tethered by wires – their performance however, is not going to improve.

Therefore, if you have old speakers that still perform very well, upgrading them to work without wires will be worth the small amount of expenditure required to add Bluetooth to them. Once installed, the Bluetooth receivers in your speakers will pair with any Bluetooth enabled device. This will enable you to stream any audio from anywhere to your speakers.

Depending on your needs, shop for the right type of Bluetooth receivers from sites such as Amazon, eBay and others. Some have optical audio connection, while others come with RCA plugs for the left and right channels. Almost all will have an LED that lights up when the unit is paired to a device. The units run on 5V, so a USB power supply will do, while output is taken through a 3.5mm stereo jack.

Setup is simple – connect the Bluetooth receiver’s audio out to the audio cable of your speaker, or to its auxiliary input, if the speaker has them. Next, power up the unit and now all that is left is to pair the unit with a Bluetooth device.

As soon as you plug in the power to the receiver, it will start broadcasting its identifier. Open the Bluetooth settings on the device you prefer and connect. If you have a low-end device, only one pair can remain connected at a time. To switch sources, you will have to disconnect the current pair first before pairing another. Some high-end devices can store up to eight different audio sources, allowing easy switching.

The sound quality of an audio system depends primarily on the quality of the source and then on the quality of the amplifier and speaker combination. Addition of the Bluetooth receiver in this chain does not detract much from the listening pleasure. In fact, you will hardly notice any difference between Bluetooth streaming audio wirelessly and speakers connected directly with wires. The advantage with Bluetooth connection is that you can place your speakers more than 30ft away from the source.

Therefore, if you have a pair of powered speakers lying around unused, you can upgrade them with Bluetooth. You will be surprised at how much better they sound compared to the tinny sound from your mobile.