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Bluetooth 3.0 is Fast Like Ricky Bobby

The Bluetooth SIG during its annual meeting finalized the Bluetooth 3.0 + HS (High Speed) specification.

The new High Speed classification comes from the inclusion of the 802.11 standard for file transfers over Bluetooth.

"Like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, this latest version was 'born to go fast,' said Mike's Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. "Utilizing the 802.11 radio was a natural choice as it provides efficiencies for both our members and consumers – members get more function out of the two radios they are already including in devices, and consumers with Bluetooth 3.0 + HS products will get faster exchange of information without changing how they connect. We are excited to expand the possibilities of the PAN."

Bluetooth 3.0 + HS is backwards compatible and builds upon all the features we have right now from our existing Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR devices.

However, the really cool feature in the new version, is how Bluetooth 3.0 will handle the transfer of large files. Most of us use Bluetooth right now for low-bandwidth applications such as headsets or computer mice, but when it comes to transferring media, we’d prefer plugging our devices in via USB. Bluetooth 3.0 aims to fix the throughput issue by levering 802.11 that we’ve all come to love from our Wi-Fi devices.

During transfer of a file, Bluetooth 3.0 will turn on the 802.11 radio to enable data transfers at the approximate rate of 24 Mbps. After the transfer is complete the radio is powered down to save on energy.

According to Engadget’s talk with Foley, existing Bluetooth hardware in laptop computers might be upgradable to 3.0 + HS provided that there is also 802.11 present. Upgrading music players or cell phones is something “you can pretty much forget about happening,” although we’re curious about the high-end cell phones of today that have both radios built-in. For the most part, expect having to buy new devices to get the full benefits of the new Bluetooth.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.