Bluetooth 5 is here, offering a huge jump in speed and range for devices

bluetooth 5 release news klipsch reference on ear 2
Bluetooth 5 is finally ready for release to developers and manufacturers — and your smart home might benefit more than your smartwatch.

The latest version of the wireless technology, which was announced in June 2016, still links a host of different products together, but the days of it being used solely for speakers or smartwatches are gone. Bluetooth 5 focuses on range, bandwidth, and speed, making it suitable for controlling and managing smart home devices and systems, as well as our growing smart cities.

The headline benefits of Bluetooth 5 are a four-fold increase in range, twice the speed to 2Mbps, and eight times the capacity for sending data, all compared to Bluetooth 4.2. These features, along with Bluetooth’s low power consumption and its ubiquitousness, makes it ideal for controlling smart homes and all the products connected to them. The group behind the Bluetooth specification has been promoting the idea of its technology revolutionizing smart homes for some time, and this is an important step towards that goal.

Increasing the range by such a vast amount means Bluetooth can more easily cover an entire house, faster speeds ensures less waiting around, and crucially when combined with the 800 percent increase in message capacity, will help deliver more data. Better quality Bluetooth audio, faster and more reliable over-the-air firmware updates, and more informative Bluetooth beacon information are just some of the benefits promised with Bluetooth 5.

Dig deeper into Bluetooth 5, and it promises less interference caused by other, closely matched, bandwidths, plus the chance for developers to manage the individual aspects of the connection. A smartwatch doesn’t require a massive range, but speed is really important, for example; but your connected lightbulb will probably benefit from the opposite. Working with Bluetooth this way means more specially tailored apps and hardware, that manage smartphone power effectively.

When will Bluetooth 5 arrive? Devices with it are expected to be here starting early 2017, but we’re warned the wait could be up to six months from now. Bluetooth 5 doesn’t replace Bluetooth 4.2, 4.1, or 4.0, it simply adds functionality to the core Bluetooth technology, and is backward compatible.

Product Review

August and Yale’s first lock brings looks, smarts, and a split personality

The first fruit of Yale’s acquisition of August, this enhanced Assure Lock SL Touchscreen Deadbolt is a definite upgrade on last year’s model, adding style and versatility to home security. Read our full review to learn more.
Movies & TV

Winter coming in spring? HBO reveals 'Game of Thrones' season 8 premiere date

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Photography

Golf ball-sized Lume Cube Air is a pocketable LED for photos and video

Off-camera lighting for smartphones and GoPros just got even smaller. Meet the Lume Cube Air, a smaller portable LED light designed for photos and videos that weighs only about two ounces.
Mobile

Best Google Pixel 3 XL screen protectors

It's tough to find good screen protectors, but the 6.3-inch OLED screen in the Google Pixel 3 XL definitely demands to be protected from scratches and impact damage. We've picked out the best options and included insight into the downsides.
Mobile

Taking shots in the dark with Night Sight, the Pixel’s newest photo feature

The Google Pixel range has always been the home of some of the mobile world's best phone cameras. That performance is now getting even better with the introduction of the low-light Night Sight mode.
Mobile

Pocket Casts adds more cross-sync, curation, and Siri Shortcuts

Pocket Casts is a pocket staple for many podcast fanatics. But it's about to get even better with the introduction Pocket Casts 7.0 that adds intelligent curation, Siri Shortcuts support, and a streamlined UI.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Mobile

Upcoming Galaxy S10 may support 8K video and have Neural Processing Unit

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Mobile

Netflix is testing a cheap mobile-only subscription tier in some markets

Netflix is trying to reach potential subscribers in emerging markets. To that end, the company has begun rolling out a cheaper, mobile-only subscription tier, which comes at around $4 per month -- half the price of the Basic subscription…
Mobile

Samsung will reportedly announce its folding smartphone at MWC in February

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Mobile

Check out 30 of the best iPhone games you need to be playing

The iPhone has some of our favorite games available for any mobile platform. Here are the best iPhone games for every big-name genre, whether you're into puzzles, strategy, or something else entirely.