Plugable’s New Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy) Adapter

Bluetooth is booming. It’s the method of choice for connecting wireless devices — it has become nearly ubiquitous across the full range of today’s PCs, phones, tablets, etc.

So we’re excited to offering our new Plugable adapter to add the latest Bluetooth 4.0 wireless capabilities to your Windows or Linux PC. Our main focus for this product is on compatibility.

The same adapter supports both the new generation of Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy devices and your existing Bluetooth 1.x, 2.x, and 3.x devices. For maximum compatibility on Windows, it supports both the built-in Windows Bluetooth stack (in Windows 7 and Windows 8 with the Broadcom low-level HCI driver automatically provided by Windows Update), but also includes a license to the best 3rd party Bluetooth stack on the market from Broadcom for even wider Bluetooth profile support, and operating system support back to Windows XP. The adapter uses Broadcom’s market-leading low-power, high-capability BCM20702 chipset.

You can connect wireless keyboards, mice, phone headsets, stereo headsets and speakers. Or connect any of the coming generation of Bluetooth Low Energy sensors and devices. With Bluetooth, its all standards based so the devices can outlive any particular device and be shared between your PC and post-PC era tablets and phones. This adapter provides the best hardware and software options so your PC can connect with the widest range of devices possible. And it enables a lot of other cool features of Bluetooth that are often overlooked.

Look for coming posts in our Bluetooth category for more info and new ideas on making the most of Bluetooth.

The adapter itself is tiny. So you can safely leave it connected and not worry about it getting bent or broke when you throw your laptop in a bag.

So why this adapter over others?

  • The Broadcom BCM20702 chipset and associated software stack are the best on the market today. Other adapters may come with one of the lesser Bluetooth stacks that have poor profile support or driver quality issues.
  • That said, I like that this hardware is compatible with the built-in Microsoft stacks in Windows 7 and Windows 8. I’m partial to the Microsoft stack, since working on it (at least, the RFCOMM component of it) a decade ago. If you plug it in to a Windows Update enabled system, the correct low-level driver for the Broadcom chip will be automatically downloaded, but the rest of the Bluetooth stack will be purely what’s built into Windows. This has pros and cons. The Microsoft built-in Bluetooth stack is high quality but supports fewer profiles. But now with the addition of stereo audio (A2DP) and Low Energy support in Windows 8, the built-in stack is great for most needs.
  • We offer this advantage of using either the Broadcom or the Microsoft stacks with this adapter. Our recommendation is to use what you automatically get from Windows 8 by plugging the adapter in. But for Windows 7 through XP, we recommend installing the Broadcom (WIDCOMM) stack from our driver download area or the CD.
  • In particular, Bluetooth Stereo Headsets and speakers are a common problem with other adapters. With ours, they’re supported on all versions of Windows with the Broadcom stack, and Windows 8 with the Microsoft stack. If you’ve had other Bluetooth adapters over the years, you know how frustrating it can be when trying to get headsets working. We’ve aimed to make it easier.
  • Support for Linux kernels 3.0.34 and later (basically, kernels after June 2012 or so) have support for this adapter built in. The adapter’s USB VID is 0x0a5c (Broadcom) and VID 0x21e8. See the checkins for adding support for this adapter to Linux here for leading kernels (in March 2012), here for kernel 3.2.20 (June 2012), and here for kernel 3.0.34 (June 2012)

Let us know if you have any questions at all. Bluetooth enables a lot of exciting uses – but there’s also a lot to think about in terms of compatibility. Our mission is to get best possible information out to everyone. Thanks for your support!

Where to Buy

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25 thoughts on “Plugable’s New Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy) Adapter”

    1. Hi Chris – Thanks for asking! Yes, sales got ahead of us and we sold out this week. More units are in transit and are scheduled to reach Amazon on Tuesday or Wednesday. On USB 3.0 – because Bluetooth doesn’t stress USB 2.0 at all, all Bluetooth adapters will stay USB 2.0. But of course, that also means they’ll work in USB 3.0 ports – so no problem if that’s all you have. Thanks for asking, and for going out of your way for us!

  1. I’m trying to connect my Android tablet to a IOIO-OTG (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11343) using this dongle. The IOIO board and the dongle are both powered, but neither the Android tablet nor my Bluetooth-equipped laptop see the IOIO. According to the IOIO Wiki (https://github.com/ytai/ioio/wiki), this should be a plug-and-play operation. I will seek an answer through the IOIO community as well, but wondered if you have any thoughts. Thanks.

    1. Hi Don – Thanks for asking. We don’t have any experience with the IOIO-OTG, but expect it won’t have the full Bluetooth stack and recognition of the VID/PID of this particular USB Bluetooth adapter. Unless you can find another positive report, we’d expect it would not be possible. Sorry for the bad news!

  2. Hello again,

    I got the Bluetooth adapter from Amazon. Installation was fast and easy. I have Windows 8 Pro 64 bit after installing it the product was installed. I went to Broadcom and the latest drivers they have (Widcom software) supports it just fine. I’ve tested it out on my Bluetooth speakers on my nightstand and it works great.

    I do like that it has bluelight letting you know that is operational which is something my other adaptors didn’t have. Finally, BlueSoleil supports it was well but I’m even happier that it works with the Broadcom Widcom software as that software is much more reliable and easier to use.

    Nice product and great price. I’ll be back to get your USB 3.0 dock products. So far so good!!! I didn’t expect Windows 8 support and your customer service is 5 star. Highly recommend and will posting a 5 star review on Amazon.

    Thank you for responding.

  3. Looking to change PC setup (Windows 8 environment). If I have multiple BlueTooth devices – do I need just one Plugable Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy) USB Adapter? or do I need one per device being attached (mouse , keyboard, speakers).
    thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Graeme, Bluetooth general (and our adapter in particular) supports 7 active devices at once (keyboards, mice, speakers, etc). So only one adapter covers it. In fact, most Bluetooth stacks (including Windows’) don’t support multiple bluetooth host adapters per PC, so you definitely want just one of those. Thanks for asking!

  4. hello Plugable
    I’m an interested costumer all the way from Macedonia.
    I consider to buy this product which I hope to use for fast madia transfer. I cannot find anywhere the MB/sec speed capability of this bluetooth 4 adapter. does it support the HS standard from Bluetooth 3.0 + HS which is using wi-fi-like network link. I will using it on desktop so the power consumption is not a concern for me; however the transfer speed is.
    thanks in advance

    1. Hi Goran,

      Thanks for taking interest in our Bluetooth adapter! This particular adapter does not include the additional HS capabilities introduced with certain Bluetooth 3.0 devices. Sorry about that!

  5. Hi, I was just trying to install this on a SuSe 12.2 system and at first it would connect and then drop the connection to a Logitech bluetooth speaker adapter. I looked in the sound card setup area and saw VID and PID as editable fields and remembered that I had seen VID here. It’s actually in the announcement I’m replying to. I was wondering if there is a typo as you list two separate VID numbers but I suspect the second one (0x21e8) is actually the PID? Anyway, when I used those numbers as VID and PID it now connects and stays connected. Now all I need to do is get the system to use it for audio output. I configured my sound card no problem, but this is a bit puzzling – but I’ll get it.

  6. Will you provide drivers for Android 4.2.2? I’d like to get this and plug it into my phone (Samsung Galaxy s4) so I can connect with bluetooth LE devices such as cadence, speed and heart monitors for cycling.

    1. Hi Gerald – Thanks for asking ahead! Drivers are not user-installable on Android. So it’s up to Google (and/or the handset and tablet makers). Right now, Android does not support the Broadcom chip we use, so this adapter won’t work on any Android system we’re yet aware of. But we’ll certainly announce it if they support it in the future. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Peter,

      Thank you for posting your question about the Bluetooth adapter. Unfortunately, due to limitations in the Windows software (all current versions(, it is only possible to connect one Bluetooth speaker or headset at a time. If you want to drive multiple speakers simultaneously, the best solution is to use Y adapters that allow you to connect two speaker sets or headphones to one source. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

      David
      Plugable Support

    1. Thanks for asking. While that information is wrong about firmware (there’s no proprietary firmware issues for Linux for this product), there are also no 100% guarantees on Linux.

      Linux kernels after June 2012 or so have support for this adapter. Support has been backported to kernels back to later point releases of stable kernels 3.0+, specifically 3.0.34, 3.2.20, and all versions of 3.4.

      However, just because you have a kernel driver that can talk to the adatper doesn’t mean it will do what you want it to — that depends on the higher level Bluetooth stack. The most common one on Linux is BlueZ, but it has limitations. And what versions of kernel and bluetooth stack you have is completely distro dependent. There are many variations, and we see many experiences.

      Hope that background helps. Bernie

  7. I need to write a VB.NET application that can communicate to a portable device via BLE. I would prefer to run the application on Win7 but I’ll go to Win8 if necessary. Do you provide drivers and an API for Win7 or Win8?

    1. Hi Tom – You’ll want to use Microsoft’s stack, since that has the best and most stable API (better than the other alternative – which is Broadcom’s private API). Microsoft introduced support for Bluetooth Low Energy only in Windows 8. So you’ll have to make that move unless you’re sticking to classic Bluetooth. All the info you need is on MSDN, and that will all work with our adapter. Thanks!

  8. Hi Bernie, a colleague of mine bumped into the maximum of 7 simultaneous connections to one host adapter. Would windows 8 support multiple hosts to arrive at numbers like 28 simultaneous connections or even 35? Or are there bandwidth limitations?

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