Random Access   chris, kp & rob
In The Lab
Use Bluetooth Headsets with your PC or Notebook?
by chris

From the mailbag, Bob in Chicago asks: How can I set up a Bluetooth headset and microphone to my PC?

Many notebooks include built-in Bluetooth wireless, or you always have the option of using a USB Bluetooth dongle to add the feature on computers or notebooks that do not. However, even with Bluetooth support, you may not be able to connect every type of Bluetooth device to your system.

Windows XP added some built-in Bluetooth support through the Service Pack 2 update, and before this, you had the option of installing Widcomm Bluetooth drivers and configuration tools. In some cases, the Widcomm support was more comprehensive then Windows XP support, and provided additional tools to transfer files, setup network gaming, or other features. Similarly, notebook vendors may install their own Bluetooth interface, although the support may still be based in the operating system or control panel settings. Bluetooth device support under SP2 includes the following hardware device profiles:

  • Personal Area Networking (PAN). Enables IP connections over Bluetooth wireless technology.
  • Hard Copy Replacement Profile (HCRP). Enables printing.
  • Host Interface Device (HID). Enables Bluetooth keyboards, mice, and joysticks.
  • Dial-Up Networking. Enables Bluetooth mobile phones to work as modems.
  • Object Push Profile (OPP). Enables file transfers.
  • Virtual COM ports (SPP). Enables legacy programs to communicate with Bluetooth devices.

I include this information because you will note that the list does not include audio devices. You may only be able to connect to headsets or hands-free devices if you use the earlier Widcomm installation.

Under Windows XP with Service Pack 2, you can still disable the XP Bluetooth support to install the Widcomm if you really want to. The method to do this is described in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article #889814.

Windows Vista adds the audio device support back in, but may block certain devices or access if your headset does not support digital rights management (DRM). This does not mean you cannot receive audio signals, just that they may be blocked in certain applications. It is the same if you try to display DRM copy-protected video content on non-digital displays connected to your system.

Windows Vista Setup
On a "clean Windows Vista install," headset hardware was detected and services displayed. Vista prompted for device drivers for each of the selected peripherals. Since no drivers were supplied with the headset, I was unable to complete this step. It's possible there are generic drivers available if you select from the list of supported hardware, but I did not attempt to go through all of the device types to locate one.

_ _ _
Windows Vista saw the device after a search. Each device had a properties screen with a tab to display and select the available services. Vista New Hardware Device Wizard could not locate drivers for the selected services.

Status: Failed

Windows XP SP2 Setup
Using my Toshiba Notebook with XP SP2 only, the device connection was made first, and then I could view or choose the services the device supports. Under Windows XP, I opened the Bluetooth settings and clicked "add device." This process appeared to complete okay, but when I examined the properties to view the services supported, the Services list was blank.

_ _ _
Windows Vista saw the device after a search. Each device had a properties screen with a tab to display and select the available services. Windows XP did not support any services for the headset hardware.

Status: Failed Hardware was detected but no services are available for device.

Windows XP SP3 using Bluetooth driver and software provided with the USB dongle
Services included Hands-free stereo headset or Stereo headset. When connected, speaker output was redirected to the headset and not the attached speakers or headphones.

_ _ _
Widcomm presented a Bluetooth Places folder view. I set the device in discovery mode and started the search. This version of the Wizard wanted to know what features might be found on your device. It changed the list of possible services based on my answer.
_ _ _
Once the hardware was added, the supported services could be viewed. In this case there were two options: the earphone-microphone combination or a headphone-only option. Once the desired services had been checked, I connected by clicking on the new device icons in Bluetooth Places.

Status: Passed: Hardware detected

Vendor utilities
On my Toshiba notebook, the Windows Vista Bluetooth setup was modified with a Toshiba Bluetooth utility, and did not follow the Vista install process exactly. It did let me add my Anycom Stereo Headset as either a hands-free (microphone and earphone headset) or headset only (with no microphone support). Setup refused to support an "Audio sink" connection because the device apparently did not support the necessary security protocol. To complete installation as an audio headset or hands-free, I had to do a "Custom setup" which allowed me to specify the type of connection to the device. This is backwards from the Vista or XP installation where the device is selected, and then the services for that device. The Toshiba utility required me to re-synch multiple times, picking the different desired service during that setup. Downloading and installing the XP Bluetooth utility may also provide XP support, but this was not tried.

_ _ _
Toshiba replaced the Vista Wizard with their Bluetooth Setup utility. Express mode failed because the Wizard could not connect using a DRM security method. Custom Mode let me choose what connections to make. The Audio Sink connection was the one that caused Express Mode to fail. It will fail to install under Custom Mode as well.
_ _ _
The Hands-Free and Headset choices installed fine. Once one was chosen, I completed the setup, then put the device in discovery mode and repeated the process to install another service from the list. Once I selected a service, the Wizard tried to connect to the device. You may have to press the headset connection button to complete this step. This will also be displayed when you start a connection after setup is complete. The new device was listed based on the Services I chose to install, rather than a single device with multiple services.

Status: Passed

Get Random Access

Understanding Tech

Print this article

Shop Online


Your Name:

Your Email:

Your Friend's Name:

Your Friend's Email:

 © Micro Center