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What is the difference between Bluetooth and Infrared technology?

Answer: Infrared technology is what most TV remotes use. The distance an infrared signal can travel varies based on the strength of the remote, but is usually less than 50 feet for household electronics. In order for an infrared signal to be detected, there must be a direct line of sight between the transmitter (remote) and the receiver (TV). If there is a wall or large object between them, the signal will not pass through it.

Bluetooth, on the other hand, uses a radio frequency, which allows transmission through walls and other objects. The standard range of a Class 3 Bluetooth device is about 30 ft., which makes it ideal for syncing PDAs with computers, using wireless cell phone headsets, and enabling handsfree cell phone use inside Bluetooth-enabled automobiles. Because Bluetooth technology is based on a standard 2.4 GHz frequency, different Bluetooth devices can typically communicate with each other, regardless of the manufacturer. Most infrared devices only work with proprietary equipment.

While Bluetooth is well on its way to replacing infrared in many different areas, the technology is not meant to be used for wireless networking. Instead, Wi-Fi technology, which has a larger range and higher bandwidth than Bluetooth, is the standard that most wireless networking equipment uses.

Published: April 13, 2005 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center