Apr 27 2009
Voice chat is nothing new. And by now, Bluetooth isn’t that new either. What is relatively new is Mac support for Bluetooth headsets. And now that these wireless headsets have reached affordable prices, things get interesting…
Cordless chatting isn’t just for phones. With a little-known support addition tucked in Bluetooth Upgrade 1.5 and a Bluetooth headset, we’re going to have you chatting with friends near and far from your couch, bed or bathroom via your Mac mini
In this installment of the Mini Media Mac, we’re going to do something you can do with pretty much any Mac running Panther or better. And since mini’s shipped with Panther, we can be sure this is supported on your tiny, hardworking new Mac.
Now, you’ll need:
- A Mac mini (or Mac running 10.3.9 or better)
- Bluetooth, either internal or via the D-Link USB dongle
- A Bluetooth wireless headset like the Logitech Mobile Freedom (Amazon, $42)
To be sure you have your Bluetooth up to date, you’ll need to install the Bluetooth Update 1.5. If you are using the D-Link adapter (the only one supported by Apple for headset use) you may need to update its firmware to 1.2 using the Firmware Update 1.2.
There’s really not much assembly required. The Logitech is easy to install, or ‘pair’ with your Mac. Once the headset has been paired, you can select it as the audio input source from your voice-chat program of choice. In fact, Bluetooth audio can also be used in any other programs on your Mac with audio input/output. Unfortunately, voice command is not supported.
With Bluetooth audio set up in your VoIP/Chat app of choice, you’re ready to dial and chat wirelessly. The Logitech has a 30 foot range and a 7 hour battery, so feel free to wander. While many chat apps will work, X-PRO (Vonage’s softphone), iChat AV and Skype have been reported to work with Bluetooth headsets on Macs.
By setting Bluetooth audio as an audio input in System Preferences, you’ll be able to overcome the mini’s lack of microphone. The system-wide audio settings allow you to record from the headset into programs like Garage Band and can even pipe your Mac’s audio back into the headset. The Logitech’s audio is clear and sounds good, but it is still mono. You can listen to iTunes, but you probably won’t want to.
The possibilities are wide open with your Bluetooth headset and Mac mini. Talk with friends, make phone calls and record and play back audio to and from your Mac. Oh, and you can use your headset with your Bluetooth mobile phone too.
Note: While all of the above functionality is supported by Apple and Logitech, there are many different system configurations and as Bluetooth headset support is new in the most recent release of software, functionality may vary.