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How to Set up Skype with a Bluetooth Headset

Many users of Skype would like to use their Bluetooth headset instead of a wired connection. It is also fairly obvious that practically everyone has had problems setting such a system up, and, indeed, many have given up in despair. This page is intended as a generalised "howto" that has now worked successfully on both my laptop (Windows XP) and my main desktop PC (Windows 2000). I have not yet had the courage to try and make it work with the Linux machine but will probably get round to it "one of these days".

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Contents:

The devices and programs that I have used are:
MSI Bluetooth USB Dongle
Sony-Ericsson HBH600 Bluetooth Headset
Skype
Additional Comments Related to silencing the MS drivers, using TDK devices, powerful Bluetooth dongles and other useful links etc.
Update from MSI

1) MSI BToes Bluetooth USB dongle.
This is a fairly generic type of device and quite cheap. Installation on the Win2K machine was fairly painless and consisted in simply starting the supplied CD and following the installation procedure. At one point, the program tells you that it cannot find the device (do not plug it in until this point), you then plug it in and installation completes. Win2K really needs a reboot after installation, not obvious.

WinXP installation was less than easy. The implication is that the dongle will work "out of the box, plug and play". What Mr. Gates and his team do not tell you is that their drivers do not support headsets and the like and are fairly crippled compared with those from the manufacturer. The problem is that even if you install the manufacturers drivers, the Microsoft ones, having been removed, keep re-installing themselves! The way round this is to:
a) Just plug the device in and let WinXP have its way.
b) Disable the Windows driver using the device manager in Control Panel. Do NOT un-install them. This does have the disadvantage that the MS bluetooth icon will appear on the task bar (seemingly un-removable!) but does stop the drivers continually getting in the way. The Microsoft icon can be distinguished by being slightly smaller and "cleaner" in appearance.
c) Install the manufacturers drivers using the standard install package on the CD.
Using this method ensures that the manufacturers drivers are used, check this at the control panel, system, device manager. Normally the drivers are from Widcomm although there are a few others. At this point it is worth mentioning that I did try to update the MSI supplied (Widcomm) drivers. I need not have bothered, the install failed with a message that my license was not valid. A message to the MSI support team has not yet been answered. I am not holding my breath.
If at any point in this procedure you are asked which services or "profiles" to install, make sure that you select "Headset" and "Audio Gateway".

2) Sony-Ericsson HBH600 Bluetooth Headset.
This headset came with a Sony-Ericsson K700i phone, a nice device and quite close to supplying most of what I need in a PDA as well. This headset had no trouble installing itself on the phone when the manufacturers instructions were followed. Making it work with the PC's was totally another ball game.

The procedure I used to get the headset to work with the PC was:
a) Got to the Bluetooth "My Bluetooth Places" or the equivalent on your system. On my Win2K and XP you right click the icon on the taskbar (make sure that it is the correct one, not Microsoft!)
b) Go to "Entire Bluetooth Neighbourhood". Somewhere in this panel there should be either a menu item or link to an explore function that allows you to look for devices.
c) Before commencing exploration you need to put your headset into "discover" mode. On the HBH600 this is achieved by turning it on and then pressing both volume controls together until the LED flashes green and red alternately. Other manufacturers may have different indications but the instructions should tell you how to do this.
d) On the PC, start the search. After a relatively short period, the device should be found. The headset icon should appear on the list or panel depending on the view type.
e) The next step is to "pair" the headset and PC. you do this by right clicking on the headset icon and selecting "pair". Most devices require that a PIN be entered at some point. With my headset this was 0000, again the manufacturers instructions should tell you this code. Enter the PIN when requested.
f) The final part of this operation is to make the connection. again, right click on the headset icon and select "Connect". All being well, the icon should grow a "tick".

At this point in the procedure you should find that Bluetooth Audio has been added to the list of Sound devices to be found in Control Panel/Sounds and Multimedia/Hardware. If it has not, there is probably a problem. In order to get my system to work, I had to set the default Audio input and output device to "Bluetooth Audio" in the "Audio" tab of this control panel. The normal Windows sounds, if enabled, will now come through the Bluetooth headset. This can be tested by clicking on the button next to the selected sound event on the Sounds panel. It is also be wise to check that your sound mixer or volume control has the volume turned well up on microphone, wave device and output, also make sure that none are muted!!

3) Skype
If you do not have it, get Skype here:
Installation is a breeze but does require that you register a Skype username. After installation, you will need to enable Skype to use the headset as follows:
a) In the tools menu select the "Sound Devices" tab.
b) All being well, you should have the option to select Bluetooth Audio on the drop down lists.
c) Make a test call to Echo123 to verify that the system is working.

4) In Use
Tip number 1. I have found that you need to re-connect the headset each time that it loses signal for long. Do this by right clicking on the icon, opening "My Bluetooth Places", navigating to the headset icon. Right click on the icon and select "Connect". My signal appears to extend about 10m, walk out of this range and re-connection is necessary.

That's all. Quite a procedure but well worth the effort in the end. This morning I had a one hour conversation with my brother in Sydney, Australia for nothing whilst walking around performing mundane clearing up tasks.

Good luck if you try this yourself and please let us know how you get on.

Here are a few additional remarks courtesy of Tony B.

1) Silencing the MS Bluetooth software.

TDK have quite a lot to say about this. It is essentially directed to using the Ezurio Bluetooth dongle, but the principles are there to apply in any case.

The TDK support is at http://tdksys.com/support

For 88 questions about Bluetooth support use:

http://www.tdksystems.com/support/faqs2/index.html?http://www.metafaq.com/faq/tdksys/bluetooth

In particular there is one titled "Q: How do I use my TDK USB adapter with Microsoft's Bluetooth software". The answer is in the document at:

http://tdksys.metafaq.com/resources/tdksys/bluetooth/MSBluetooth

Using that stuff you can make the MS software disappear completely from your system if you wish, and re-install it if required.

2) Default Sound Channels.

I do not find it necessary to set the sound system default to Bluetooth to get Skype to work. However I do find that using the Bluetooth channel with either Skype or VoIPcheap leaves the default sound channel setting disturbed, sometimes Bluetooth or more usually the Plantronics wired headset on this XP system. Weird??!! I must try to find why this happens.

3) Some "By The Ways"

a) I have been told that there is some help about MS/Bluetooth on a D-Link site too.

b) The Ezuiro is the more powerful sort of Bluetooth dongle ... class 2 I think they say ... but it also suggest a range up to 250 metres. I wonder what that means. With the Jabra 250v headset and odd walls about we are certainly talking of just a few metres, and much less range than DECT phones.

c) When I walk far enough out of range the Bluetooth headset drops its connection with the computer, but at least on VoIPcheap the call stays connected (have not tried Skype). I can then re-establish the headset link when I walk back into range just by pressing the button once on the Jabra headset.

UPDATE FROM MSI:

Dear Sir/Madam,
 
Thank you for contacting MSI UK support.
 
If your BToe is version 254 or 365, it will be written on the dongle itself.  If you do not see ver.254 or 365 written then your dongle is not this version.  Assumeing that you have ver.254 or 365 then you need to use the following drivers, http://66.96.84.4/support/dvr_exe/cmu_dvr/Btoes_v4.0.1.1500.zip
 
Please try the following in an attempt to resolve your problem.
 
1. Uninstall all current drivers and software, using Add/remove programs and Device Manager use safe mode if necessary.  Check in Device manager that after this no Bluetooth references are present.  If there are then remove them.
2. Now reboot without Btoe installed
3. Download and unzip the latest version specific drivers from above link.
4. Start PC without BToe, and then once the PC has booted up, insert the Dongle, if all drivers and software have been removed correctly windows should prompt that it has found new hardware if it has not then you must recheck that all drivers and software have all been removed.
5. At this stage select to install the driver from a specific location (that of where you have just downloaded and unzipped the downloaded driver too)
6. The Driver is now installed, your system should recognise the Bluetooth product is present.
 
We hope this helps!
 
Best Regards,
 
MSI (UK) Tech Support
 
E-mail - support@msicomputer.co.uk
UK -  www.msicomputer.co.uk
HQ - www.msi.com.tw
 

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