Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Reviews

Best USB Bluetooth Adapter: 2021 Guide

USB Bluetooth adapter

Bluetooth technology has taken the world by storm in the last few years. Many new devices are only capable of connecting through this wireless method. Unfortunately, older computers might not even have Bluetooth built-in. The good news is that anyone in this camp doesn’t have to drop hundreds of dollars on a new PC to take advantage of wireless connectivity. As long as you have an empty USB slot, you can plug in a Bluetooth adapter and get your hardware up to speed.

What should you look for in a good Bluetooth adapter?

Before you go grab the first adapter you see, there are a few factors to consider when purchasing a USB Bluetooth dongle. Learning about these factors first will save you the potential hassle of having to return your purchase. The following is a rundown and brief description of all the relevant lingo.

Bluetooth version

Like all computer tech, Bluetooth is constantly evolving at an accelerated rate. There are multiple versions of Bluetooth on the market at any given time. The higher the version number, the faster and more stable the connection will be. Try to shoot for a device with at least Bluetooth 4.0 for the best experience.

Operating system compatibility

USB devices must install drivers on your operating system to be compatible with your computer. While most drivers will install on Windows, there are many that won’t recognize Mac OS or Linux. If your computer is a Mac or you have a Linux kernel installed, be sure to check that the adapter is compatible.

Effective range

Even though the connection is wireless, there is still a limit to how far it extends. Determine how far way your two devices will be before buying an adapter. Most commercial adapters have a range of about 30-60 feet.

Classification

Bluetooth adapters are divided into class 1 and class 2. Class 1 devices are primarily for industrial use. They have ranges that can extend hundreds of feet to account for large working spaces. For this reason, most people are perfectly fine choosing a class 2 adapter. Class 2 Bluetooth devices are primarily for commercial use. As stated above, Class 2 devices hardly ever extend beyond 60 feet.

Breakdown of the best Bluetooth adapters of 2021

Now that you know what to look for, you can find the Bluetooth adapter that perfectly suits your needs. To save you some time, here is a breakdown of the most viable options in 2021. This list will surely contain the Bluetooth solution that you seek.

Asus USB Adapter

Asus delivers a versatile adapter that is compatible with a wide range of Android and Windows devices. You can easily connect your game console or smartphone with the number of compatible drivers that come preloaded on the dongle. The operation range is 33 feet, which should be more than enough for most homes.

The good

  • Impressive list of supported drivers
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Automatically connects to Windows 8 or 10

The bad

  • No car stereo or Mac support

Avantree USB Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter

This budget adapter is excellent for a quick wireless fix. If you have Windows 10, you can plug it in without even needing to install any drivers. Windows 7 and 8 users can quickly install their drivers with the included CD. Unfortunately, it isn’t compatible with Mac or Linux. This means that users of each OS are forced to look elsewhere.

The good

  • Instant Windows 10 support
  • Budget price tag
  • Bluetooth 4.0 connection

The bad

  • No Mac or Linux compatibility

EVEO USB Bluetooth Adapter

If you desire a product that is guaranteed to last for years, then check out EVEO’s Bluetooth solution. It comes with a three-year warranty out of the box. They can confidently offer such a long replacement window because of how sturdy this dongle is. This is excellent for computers that children have access to. Young ones tend to yank out USB devices recklessly which can bend the connectors and leave them unusable.

The good

  • Compact and durable
  • Three years of warranty protection
  • Compatible with a wide range of USB 2.0 devices

The bad

  • Signal cuts out inconsistently when nearing the advertised 30 feet range

KINIVO BTD-400 Bluetooth Adapter

For all the Mac and Linux users waiting for their turn on the list, here you go. The BTD-400 is compatible with each of the Mac OS and Linux kernels from the past few years. It also has Windows support in case you frequently switch between multiple machines. In addition to all of the major operating systems, you can even connect Raspberry Pi and other Android devices too. This adapter serves as a one-stop-shop for all of your wireless needs.

The good

  • Unparalleled compatibility across many devices
  • 32 feet range of Bluetooth 4.0
  • Tiny size makes it easy to carry anywhere

The bad

  • Long driver installation time

Plugable USB Bluetooth Adapter

Those of you who refuse to run anything other than Linux should give this adapter a look. Plugable was focused heavily on Linux compatibility when designing this model. If you run an obscure kernel of Linux that is often incompatible with Bluetooth, then this dongle most likely supports what you have. You can even plug it into a Windows PC in a pinch. The transmission range is 32 feet and the Bluetooth 4.0 connection remains stable at max distance.

The good

  • Robust support for obscure Linux kernels
  • Connects to Raspberry Pi and other Android devices
  • Energy efficient design

The bad

  • No support for Macs or car stereo systems

The overall best pick

Each of the above Bluetooth adapters excels in at least one use case. However, the KINIVO BTD-400 excels in every single use case we can think of. Whether you have Windows, Linux, Mac OS, or all three, this one adapter has you covered. Heavy Linux users may want to opt for Plugable’s USB adapter instead just to ensure compatibility with your specific kernel. Everyone else will get more than their money’s worth out of the BTD-400.

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