Connecting to Other Devices

Technology allows you to connect other devices, such as printers, Smart TVs, headphones, car handsfree kit and cameras.

Generally there are two ways to connect an external device to your device – An external device is defined as any peripheral device that is not housed inside a device.

You can have a wired connection, frequently a USB type, with a connector at each end. The picture below shows an example of a USB cable and port – Note that the connector shapes can differ, dependent on device and might not be interchangeable across devices (a cable for an iPhone will not fit an android device, and a cable for an android phone will not fit an iPhone.

Alternatively you can connect wirelessly.

There are two ways to connect wirelessly – One is to use a device that has Wi-Fi capability built in, such as a printer, or you can use a wireless technology called Bluetooth.

The main differences between a Wi-Fi enabled device and a Bluetooth one is range. The theoretical range of Wi-Fi is up to 45 metres indoors and 90 metres outdoors (however remember my mention of the effect of different mediums that the signal will pass through and so may be a lot less), whilst the theoretical range of Bluetooth is 10 Metres, but it is constrained, like Wi-Fi, by the mediums it passes through and so is probably better used on line of site devices.

The other difference is that a Wi-Fi enabled device can usually be used by more than one device at a time, whilst Bluetooth connections tend to be one on one.

This means that a Wi-Fi enabled printer, could be used by several devices around the house.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi enabled devices enable you to use them from anywhere in range (later on in another article we will look at cloud printing. This enables you to print, for example, from any Wi-Fi or data signal, almost anywhere in the world). The device you are printing too and from must be cloud enabled.

Setup of such devices is relatively easy, the manufacturers providing full instructions usually with pictures. You will need to know the network name of your Wi-Fi, the SSID, and the Wi-Fi key, again this will be found somewhere on your router.

If it is a printer you are setting up, remember for you or others to connect to it, it must remain plugged in and turned on. It is possible to combine connections to a printer – It could be connected to one computer via a USB cable and others via Wi-Fi. In this circumstance, if the computer that is connected via the USB cable is turned off, printing may not happen. Usually though any print requests received will be held in a queue and will print when the computer is turned back on.

Like desktop computers, printers can get warm so ensure the air vents are not blocked.

Bluetooth

Not all devices are bluetooth enabled – There are three ways to know if your devices are bluetooth enabled – The first is from system documentation and the second is from the packaging and the third a symbol that will be found somewhere on the device (any device with Wi-Fi or bluetooth capability has to have approval from a regulatory organisation ad therefore the symbol is mandatory).

Usually the bluetooth symbol takes one of two forms

The device documentation for both devices, will tell you the wireless name of the device(s) you are connecting, this is important in that it prevents you connecting the wrong device.

The devices being connected should, for the initial connection (known as pairing), be next to each other. They should also be powered on (and where appropriate with batteries in).

To begin the pairing both devices must be in discovery mode, that is “looking” for a connection. Most phones\tablets\computers are in discovery mode when you go into the settings menu (open settings and search bluetooth, add a device) other devices such as a mouse or headphones require you to manually put them into discovery mode – Usually, though not always, this is done by holding the power button down for around three seconds. Usually a light, on the device will blink rapidly to confirm discovery mode is on.

Always check the documentation that you have with the device, to confirm the pairing procedure.

As an example, the description below covers connecting a keyboard or mouse to a computer.

Power on your mouse or keyboard. If it’s already turned on, turn it off, then turn it back on. This will make it “discoverable”, which means that when your computer scans for nearby Bluetooth devices, it will see your keyboard or mouse.In Windows, hit the Start menu and type in “Add a Bluetooth Device”. Click the “Add a Bluetooth Device” option that shows up.

On a Mac, you can just hit the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and hit “Set Up a Device”.Your computer will scan for devices, and your keyboard or mouse should pop up. If it doesn’t after a few seconds, try turning it off and back on again.

Once it shows up, click on it, and hit Next.If you’re setting up a keyboard, you’ll be prompted to type in a PIN number. Type it in on your keyboard, and hit Enter. You should get a message saying the keyboard was paired successfully, and you should be able to start using it right away.