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Wireless Networking Communications The Internet

Bluetooth 5 With 2x More Range and 4x Better Speed Coming Next Week (arstechnica.com) 94

Bluetooth is about to get more powerful. Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group noted in a newsletter that Bluetooth 5 will debut on June 16. The new incarnation of wireless standard offers "double the range and quadruple the speed of low energy Bluetooth transmissions." From an Ars Technica report: It also adds "significantly more capacity to advertising transmissions," which is more exciting than it sounds because it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what you normally think of when you think of "advertising." In the Bluetooth spec, an "advertising packet" allows Bluetooth devices to send small snippets of information to other Bluetooth devices even if the two aren't actually paired or connected to one another.It's currently unclear whether existing devices will be able to support the new standard.
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Bluetooth 5 With 2x More Range and 4x Better Speed Coming Next Week

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  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:29PM (#52289801) Homepage Journal

    Have they fixed the problem where X-Ray, UV, and visible light are stopped by walls, and yet people are still too dumb to figure out microwave bluetooth signals aren't high-energy enough to cause cancer or brain damage? Do we have a patch that at least informs them that light is also EMR, the same kind of radio waves as bluetooth and wifi, but stationed between your cell phone's signal and cancer-causing ultraviolet rays, so these people all panic and go running into the sea like lemmings?

    • Have they fixed the problem where X-Ray, UV, and visible light are stopped by walls, and yet people are still too dumb to figure out microwave bluetooth signals aren't high-energy enough to cause cancer or brain damage

      Absolutely, those people are invited to move out into the wilderness and not use technology.

  • by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:31PM (#52289815)
    Can we have 3X less reliability though please. I really hate how rock solid previous versions were.
    • I really hate how rock solid previous versions were

      I don't think that phrase means what you think it means.

    • Can we have 3X less reliability though please.

      I don't think that phrase means what you think it means.

  • Editing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:32PM (#52289821)

    "2x More Range"? "4x Better Speed"? Is English your first language?

    "Three Times the Range" and "Five Times the Speed", or "3x Range" and "5x Speed" would be better.
    Of course, I'm betting it's really just doubling the range and quadrupling the speed, not tripling and quintupling them. (When a marketer says "2x More!!" they mean "1x More".)

    • Re:Editing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:36PM (#52289855)
      It's actually perfect. When you're writing a headline, there is limited real estate, and you don't want to waste it with fillers. Besides, that's actually a play on Ars Technica's headline. You won't want to fight with Conde Nast editors.
    • Twice the range and quadrupled throughput, surely.

    • Re:Editing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10, 2016 @02:09PM (#52290541)

      "2x More Range"? "4x Better Speed"? Is English your first language?

      "Three Times the Range" and "Five Times the Speed", or "3x Range" and "5x Speed" would be better.
      Of course, I'm betting it's really just doubling the range and quadrupling the speed, not tripling and quintupling them. (When a marketer says "2x More!!" they mean "1x More".)

      Are YOU a native speaker?

      Nobody says 2x more to mean "original + (2 * original)", it always means 2x.

      Do you say "2x less range"? What would that be mathematically?

      • You could have stopped at "Nobody says 2x more".
        For 2x they say twice as much/many.
        Although plenty of people do say things like "two times cheaper" (which as you indirectly point out is just plain wrong).

    • Hear hear. The common off-by-one usage is infuriating.

  • by Yokaze ( 70883 )

    I am missing any reference to mesh networking in the announcement [bluetooth.com]. Come one, it feels like it has been already been decades, that mesh networking is supposed to come with the next release.

    • Maybe it did [bluetooth.com]

      And mesh networking will enable Bluetooth devices to connect together in networks that can cover an entire building or home, opening up home and industrial automation applications.

      • Mesh networking is the Great White Hope of IoT makers. With IPv6, you can mesh together much of the known universe.

        I imagine new malware that injects itself into the mesh, much like browser ad insertions that pop up now and then (pun intended).

  • Yay! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:39PM (#52289863)

    No more having to sit next to that insufferable twat for an hour to crib his contacts because he's too stupid to secure his bluetooth connection. Now I can do it from the table over in less time than I need for my breakfast!

    • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NMBob ( 772954 ) on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:43PM (#52289915) Homepage
      ...and maybe that NSA van following me will be able to back off. I'm afraid they are going to rear end me.
  • Power? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:39PM (#52289865) Journal

    Twice the range and quadruple the speed are great, but how about the power consumption. If it also takes 2-4x the power (or even 1.5x), that's not going to be very useful as many BT devices are battery-powered.

    • greater throughput means less time in active mode, more time in deep sleep.

      • by phorm ( 591458 )

        Most bluetooth devices I know are used for streaming rather than file transfer. You might get better quality audio with higher speeds (or be able to use the devices farther apart), but you're not going to have more sleep cycles with a continuous 128mbps audio stream to a set of bluetooth headphones, etc.

        In cases where data is transferred in large chunks and/or buffered that might work ok, but I don't personally know many things that do this other than when I'm doing an OTA update of a tethered device such a

    • The 2Mbit PHY doubles the symbol rate, but it comes at the cost of range. The "Long Range" PHY doubles the range, but may drop you to as little as 125Kbps (or 500Kbps if you're not at the hairy edge)

      As for power usage -- That's directly proportional to the duty cycle of the radio. For a given amount of data, the 2Mbit PHY will in theory nearly halve your power consumption over 1Mbit. The long-range PHY can result in 2x or 8x the power consumption of the 1Mbit mode, based purely on how long it takes to tr

  • Bah humbug (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Given the security issues it is unclear if more range is a good thing.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:40PM (#52289883)

    For advances, since IoT is coming at us like a crane falling down an alleyway, it would be nice for BT security to be improved. Toss E0, find a well tested cipher that works at low power, but has at least 256 bits, and a decent block size. Have pairing store a longer nonce, like at least 512 bits, so it can be used for a Diffie Hellman exchange for a session key, as well as having enough to have a unique IV. Of course, older devices and ones with less power may need a lesser algorithm, but part of the pairing process should be what each device can do, encryption-wise, so subsequent communications can't be "downgraded" with clients falling back to weaker encryption, unless that was initially specified in the pairing.

    As for usefulness, if we can have Bluetooth be able to work with external hard drives at USB 2.0 speeds or better, that would be nice. No piggybacking off of Wi-Fi, ideally.

  • IDK about everyone else but the main reason I don't use Bluetooth for audio is the latency. It's better but still not good and will never be == 0 ms. One place that I thought I might try Bluetooth 4 on was a super mobile DJ setup for house parties. I had some Bluetooth 4 speakers and a RCA to Bluetooth 4 transmitter. The problem is as a DJ you listen to the next track and try and match tempo but the speakers will always be super delayed in comparison to the headphones that are hard wired. I am use to audio
    • Re:Latency (Score:4, Informative)

      by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:51PM (#52289985) Homepage Journal

      You don't need 0ms. If you can keep it under 50ms it's undetectable [atsc.org] for most humans. 40ms seems to be a minimum human nervous system latency. Spiders can do 20ms, but spider music is a niche case.

      • Well if you played two songs 50 ms off from each other I'm sure you could detect that it is off.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Detecting that two signals are out of phase is completely different from the amount of time it takes to process those signals.

    • Try bluetooth headphones. See if the latency matches the speakers.

      • I had thought about this but, complicating the problem, it seems that Bluetooth tries to re-transmit missed packets. So even if the two start out together there is no guarantee they will stay synched.
        • it seems that Bluetooth tries to re-transmit missed packets.

          That's horrible... How can a live stream keep up? There's no way to adjust caching (as in shrinking the buffer) in bluetooth?

    • apt-X Low Latency has a round trip time of around 40 ms and extremely low jitter, compared to the default Bluetooth A2DP latency of around 150 ms with significant jitter. Audio buffering on video, MP3 players and even games is usually around this figure, sometimes even higher. They do a lot of buffering because, the bigger your buffer, the more power you save and the fewer context switches you have to make. Constantly waking up the CPU for lots and lots of little writes is less efficient than doing a big ba

      • Thanks for this. I had grabbed this https://www.amazon.com/Bluetoo... [amazon.com] and see that it is 4.0 but they have a Bluetooth 4.1 that supports apt-X Low Latency so I might give it another go with that.
        • Keep in mind that only dedicated chipsets made by CSR (now part of Qualcomm) actually implement aptX. And also there is a difference of about 80-100 ms between "regular" aptX, and aptX Low Latency.

          I have a pair of headphones that supports aptX but not Low Latency. The sound quality is at least as good as 256 kbps MP3, but the latency is almost as bad as regular SBC (the horrific default "required" codec in A2DP spec). The Low Latency cans I have are *noticeably* more responsive and lower latency; the differ

          • Mac OS X supports aptX. I've done the test :
            - connect to an aptX capable speaker
            - alt-clic the Bluetooth menu
            - menu shows more details about the connection. Among them, it showed the used codec : aptX when it's used (SBC in most other cases).

            The market is pretty bad in my opinion :

            - CSR (owned by Qualcomm now, as you said) makes most of the sold chips. Perhaps something like 70%. But something you'd learn only after buying one of their expensive development kit is that the chip is based on a very old archit

    • and will never be == 0 ms

      Nothing has 0ms latency except perhaps a hypothetical quantum computer.

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Friday June 10, 2016 @12:41PM (#52289893)
    Bluetooth is notoriously insecure, longer range and more effective discovery would only make attacks easier.
    • I'd have to sit down and read through the specs for the protocol, but on the surface these 'advertising packets' make me wonder if there's a way someone can listen in on you even if the device isn't paired to them. If so and coupled with mesh networking, wouldn't you potentially have audio surveillance everywhere there's bluetooth headsets? Has anyone ever audited the firmware in these devices?
  • This sounds just like more advertising capabilities.

    How is being able to send small snippets of information (ADS) to other bluetooth devices even though they are not paired or connected to one another not advertising.

    Crap now if I get a Bluetooth 5 device I am going to have to turn it off, sounds like a very useful tech for advertisers not customers. But as we all know we are not the customer when we buy something these days.

    • by GlennC ( 96879 )

      No need to get paranoid, yet...it's not that kind of advertising.

      Advertising Channels are used for discovering devices, initiating connection and broadcasting data. For instance, when you go to pair a Bluetooth keyboard or speaker with one of your devices, advertising packets can let you see the name of the device before you've paired it so you can distinguish it from all the other Bluetooth devices that are within range.

      Think, "Hi, everyone out there....I'm a (device) named (name)"

      Most likely, the enhance

  • From my experience with Bluetooth, that statement is pretty meaningless.

    The "Standard" is 30 feet or 10 meters (which doesn't even add up, I guess we're all too stupid to be able to convert).

    However I've found that some devices seem to meet that standard, while others have a range that could be more accurately measured in inches.

    Therefore that POS wireless speaker I got at BestBuy for 80$ will have a range of 8 inches rather than only 4!

  • I have a Garmin fitness band that's paired to my iPhone. When I inadvertently leave my phone in my office, I am often surprised just how far away I can get and still get notifications - through walls and a steel door.

    I am not sure adding range to Bluetooth is particularly useful. It may even be a security concern.

    Now what I'd really prefer they work on is the lag issues related to newer versions of Bluetooth (not necessarily the low-power version). I have some old Sony DR-BT101s that work great - the batter

    • I think the idea is that you could use Bluetooth instead of WiFi for your Internet of Things, which makes you cool and hep and all that sort of stuff.

      I mean, what happened to the "Personal Area Network"?

  • I've had to complete give up on bluetooth headphones because it's not possible to listen to music while walking down the street unless I ensure my phone is hovering no more than a few inches away from my headphones.

    Farther away, and the frequent interruptions are unbelievably annoying.

  • When I walk past the Verizon store in Washington DC Union Station I always receive a text message from the store asking me to come in and shop. It is always on the first time walking past and it's happened about a dozen times so far.

    I have an Android phone with Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC turned off, so I don't know how it's doing this.

    • by GlennC ( 96879 )

      I don't know for sure, but I'd guess that they have a micro-cell in the store. When your phone registers with the cell (since it's the closest VZW cell to you), Verizon sends the text to you via standard SMS.

  • I don't want twice the range. I miss enough calls now when I get out of my car and forget to turn off the BT speakerphone.

  • And by mixing, I mean a Bluetooth receiver (headphones, etc) that could be paired with multiple devices at the same time. For example, having a single headset paired with a phone and a computer and no stupid tricks necessary to hear audio from either source simultaneously.

    Obviously there would need to be some stupid tricks involved to adjust sound levels or something.

    I've had headphone dongles that allowed multiple device pairings, but you have to manually switch between devices, or worse, disable bluetoot

  • Will this solve the problem of my BT headphones cutting out when my phone is in my pocket?
  • What else is improved? Power consumption? Ease of connection? Can it now finally, reliably be used as a GOOD audio transmission protocol for music (Apple... are hoping, I bet....) ?

    What about maximum devices in a room? Can you have 42 of these in a small hall like a university lecturing room? What about 90 of them?

    • by kriston ( 7886 )

      Low-latency and good sounding music don't come together in the BlueTooth world.

      I've also found that there are lots of BlueTooth speakers and receiver-adapters that don't handshake at the better quality protocols and bitrates. The Logitech BlueTooth receivers work fine but most others do not.

      Latency is still crap, hopefully BT 5 might alleviate the problem, but I don't see how to do that and be low power and still good sound quality.

       

  • What about latency?
    You know, for mice.

  • Please Slashdot editors,

    Make summaries interesting for your target readers.

    If you want to shift your target to people who, within the context of a wireless protocol, consider "advertisements" as something bad and intrusive and not some type of broadcast service announcement, that's ok. But please, in that case tell us clearly, so we can find an alternative site.

    If you want to recover the old nerdies who have long left the page, please conside

  • So a devise you haven't paired with can access your's via Blue-Tooth. And to make it even better, they've extended the range. This is an improvement?

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