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How to connect your iPad/iPhone to Bluetooth speakers

Are you still using a dock to connect to your home audio with an iPhone or iPad? You don't have to. Using Bluetooth audio without wires is easier than you think.

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I own both an iPad and an iPhone 3GS, and I can tell you that the number of times I've considered using Bluetooth audio to wirelessly connect to speakers has been zero. I can't clearly explain why: maybe I think a dock that connects through the bottom pin connector is easier, or I get lazy and use the low-powered built-in speakers instead.

Well, let me try to convince you now: using Bluetooth as a wireless way to enjoy audio is both easy and fun. And it can free your iPhone up in very useful ways when you're around the home or office.

What do you need? A Bluetooth speaker system or home audio component, to start. We used Creative Labs' ZiiSound D5 and D200 wireless Bluetooth speaker. You also need an iPad, or iPhone that has A2DP for Bluetooth audio--not all Bluetooth devices have this profile, it's different than the one you use to connect an earpiece. iPhone OS 3.0 added this capability to all iPhones that are 3G or newer (sorry, original iPhone owners), as well as on iPod Touch models second-generation and newer. Both use a similar setup scheme. All iPads have A2DP Bluetooth as well, although the setup screen looks slightly different.

Of course, you can set up many other devices and smartphones via A2DP, including BlackBerrys, Android phones and the Palm Pre, as well as on laptops--but we'll be focusing on the iPad and iPhone here.

There's more good news, in case you didn't realize: Bluetooth audio works not only on music, of course, but on streaming video, games, and virtual-instrument apps, with a few exceptions (Magic Piano didn't work for us).

While iOS 4 has been linked to some Bluetooth troubles, we got our iPhone 3GS with iOS 4 to work without a hitch. The great advantage on iOS4 and Bluetooth is background audio streaming--you can set up Pandora or Internet radio, stream in the background through your speakers, and then go back to using your iPhone for everyday tasks, all while the music keeps playing over Bluetooth. This does drain your battery faster, however, so take care if you have somewhere to go later on.