A Bluetooth module on a laptop is an internal component or external adapter that enables Bluetooth functionality for the computer. Bluetooth is a wireless communication standard that was popularized by cellular phone wireless headsets; computers can use the standard to connect to peripheral devices like mice, keyboards and headsets, as well as communicate and share files with other Bluetooth-equipped devices, such as smartphones.

Bluetooth Wireless Communication

According to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the Bluetooth standard was created as a short-range wire replacement solution for phone, headset, keyboard and mice wires. Bluetooth is a short-range digital voice and data radio technology that operates in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band and features frequency hopping to avoid interdevice interference. Bluetooth devices have a maximum communication range of about 100 meters. In addition to computers and phones, Bluetooth support is included in a wide range of products, including automobiles and medical devices. The original Bluetooth standard can transmit up to 1Mbps, whereas revisions to the standard enable it to work with Wi-Fi to transmit up to 24Mbps.

Internal Bluetooth Modules

A laptop that supports Bluetooth out-of-the-box uses an internal Bluetooth module that's connected to the device motherboard. The Bluetooth SIG does not manufacturer Bluetooth modules itself: third-party manufacturers handle the module production. Fujitsu, Panasonic and Laird are some of the manufacturers that design and produce Bluetooth modules. The module itself typically exists on a daughterboard that's wired to the laptop's motherboard; however, some motherboards have built-in Bluetooth adapters.

External Bluetooth Modules

External Bluetooth modules, also referred to as Bluetooth dongles, are a type of adapter that connect to a computer using a USB port to add Bluetooth capabilities to a computer. Bluetooth adapters are an easy way to connect a Bluetooth transceiver to a laptop while adding minimal bulk to the system: the devices usually protrude no more than a half-inch outside of the port. Unlike internal Bluetooth adapters, a single external adapter can be shared among multiple computers because the device can be added and removed on demand.

Toggling Bluetooth on Laptops

Bluetooth modules can be turned off when not in use to conserve battery life on a laptop. While Bluetooth modules aren't a huge drain on the battery compared to the screen and processor, leaving the module on when not using it will reduce battery life. External modules can be removed from the USB port when not in use; however, internal modules have to be toggled by the computer. Laptops with built-in Bluetooth modules often include a keyboard shortcut that toggles Bluetooth power. The shortcut is usually activated by pressing the "FN" key and the "F" key that has the Bluetooth logo simultaneously.