What a USB dongle offers is the ability to connect it to your computer and give it a kind of connectivity that it does not have, such as Bluetooth or WiFi to a specific device. It is useful to use it on old computers that you want to reuse and do not have WiFi, for example. Or to give Bluetooth connection to your TV or your computer and connect controllers of consoles or portable and wireless keyboards that you have at home.
There are several types and it is one of the most comfortable devices that we can have if we want to reuse an old computer or simply if we have mounted our computer without taking this into account. Whatever it is, we review what it is, what types are there or which ones you can buy
What is a USB dongle?
As we have explained in previous paragraphs, it is a physical device similar to a pendrive or USB key that connects to the port of the laptop, desktop or television and that is capable of giving you a type of connectivity that it does not have. It is not a pendrive as such with which we can transfer files but it has the possibility of connecting our computer with Bluetooth, with WiFi or ANT + to connect it to certain types of sensors such as heart rate monitors or speed sensors.
It will depend on the model and what we need. They are usually affordable and very small in some cases and you just have to plug them into your computer’s USB port and configure them. They are not as frequent today as they were years ago because most of the devices that surround us already include all kinds of technologies such as Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, etc.
What types of USB dongle are there?
The most common are for Bluetooth and for WiFi But there are also ANT + receivers that allow us to synchronize our watch or activity bracelet with a computer if we want to transfer the training data. There are also some that work as security USB to protect the device from unauthorized access or there are those that allow us have GPS technology on the computer although they tend to be less than others. But, usually, the two most useful and necessary are the Bluetooth and the WiFi connection. If your laptop does not have Bluetooth, a USB dongle is a key element to be able to use your headphones, your wireless keyboard or any other device that you can think of.
Bluetooth technology is useful to transfer files between two devices quickly and we do it with mobiles before WhatsApp, Dropbox or Google Drive arrived. But it can also be really practical if you have a computer without a Bluetooth connection and you have bought a new wireless keyboard. Usually the mice you buy carry the USB plug-in in a dongle format but this is not the case with other devices such as keyboards or headphones or any other gadget that you want to connect. A Bluetooth USB dongle will only cost you about ten or eleven euros at Amazon and they are designed so that you can transmit whatever you want.
Another of the recommended delusions is that you use it for the car: if your car has a USB connection the safest thing is that it also has Bluetooth but if you cannot use this type of tiny device to connect it and thus send the music from your mobile phone without having to download it physically or put it on a CD. It is very useful and we can also use it on televisions if we want them to have Bluetooth, etc. It can save us on many occasions and we will only have to make sure that the operating system that we are going to use is compatible with that of the purchased USB device.
Another of the most recommended and frequent uses is that of WiFi through a USB dongle that allows us to provide a wireless connection to a computer that does not have it or to any other device that does not have it. If you need to connect wirelessly instead of cable, you can have this USB that will save us installing an internal WiFi card in the computer case. Just plug in the USB to the corresponding port, it takes up little space and automatically, once you configure it, it will be able to detect nearby networks and you will be able to connect without difficulty.
In the case of Wi-Fi, we should normally look at more things, when buying one, than if you are going to buy a Bluetooth double USB. Usually we will look first at the nomenclature of the WiFi standard but also at the band in which it works because some will find that they work in both bands. Others, only in 2.4 GHz that offer us slower connections but with greater coverage.
We must also have consider if it is USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 but you should look at the device you are connecting it to and as long as it is compatible with a higher model. Other important aspects are security to see what it allows us and as long as they are, at least, compatible with WPA. Beyond this you can look at the size, whether or not they are tiny and easy to carry, but there are also some with antennas or without an antenna, etc.
As we can see, there are many advantages that having a USB dongle offers us but we review some of the most important if you are thinking of buying one:
- It is cheap, barely exceed 15 or 20 euros making it a solution suitable for any pocket.
- Easy to install because just plug it in and sometimes configure it.
- It is universal because any computer has USB port but also many televisions, many cars or any other device you want.
- Comfortable to travel or to get you out of trouble.
- We can connect whatever we want: a printer, a telephone, keyboards, mice, headphones, a portable speaker without the need for cables …
Buy a dongle
We collect some of those that we can find on Amazon if you are looking for one to buy. They are affordable and generally very small.
A Bluetooth adapter for the computer that is compatible with all recent versions of Windows and does not want configuration. Simply plug it into the USB port of the computer and it offers us the possibility of connecting a keyboard, a remote or any other peripheral you need. It has a price less than 10 euros and stands out for being very small, it barely protrudes from the computer’s USB port.
It is compatible with notebooks or desktop computers and has an operating range of about 10 meters so you can enjoy a portable speaker at a great distance. You can also play music from your mobile, make video calls or transfer data with practically no effort and with the confidence of one of the most common brands in this type of devices.
UGREEN’s is another of the best USB dongles if you want to give Bluetooth to your portable phone. It is compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and Windows Vista and allows us to connect headphones, speakers, mice or keyboards without difficulty. Too you can use it to connect the PS4 controller or the Xbox One, for example. Of course, it is only compatible with Windows and you cannot use it on MacOS.
The transmission range promises to be twenty meters and the connection is automatic: once you pair a device with the Bluetooth USB dongle they will automatically pair as long as both are turned on. Too has an indicator LED that will show us if it is connected at that moment and if it is working. Like the previous one, it is barely 30 millimeters long and 7.5 millimeters thick so you will practically not notice anything if you plug it into the laptop and you can move with it effortlessly.
Golvery Plug and Play
Something more expensive than the previous ones but that allows us to connect several headphones at the same time, for example, and that has an antenna that aims to improve the signal. Automatically connects with Plug and Play system no need for any installer or drivers no applications: just connect the USB dongle to the computer or device you want and you can configure the headphones or the television remote you want. One of the advantages is that it is designed to watch movies or series with your partner or family thanks to the fact that it allows you to connect two headphones without any problem and with low latency.
It is compatible with consoles, with computers and promises a range of about 15 meters. It is not advisable if you are looking for something affordable that allows us to connect via Bluetooth because it is double the price of any of the above but is compatible with your Smart TV, with consoles such as Nintendo Switch or PlayStation, etc.
If you want WiFi, TP-Link offers us two options: with or without antenna. Its 300 Mbps Mini Wireless adapter offers you great quality for video playback, video calls, for voice calls or to play online without worrying about speed but also boasts of a tiny design of just 39 millimeters long and 18 wide so that it does not take up space in any pocket in which you carry the laptop. It connects to any USB port and is easy to transport. In addition, another advantage is that it has a WPS button to easily connect to the wireless network and also allows us to connect from any operating system because it is compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux.
Another of the brand’s models it’s the Archer T2U Plus that does not have a WPS button, it allows us a lower speed (up to 200 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band) but it is a dual-band adapter with a multidirectional antenna so that you improve the experience depending on where you are. It also supports Windows (versions of Windows 10, 8.1, 8, Windows 7 and Windows XP) and computers with macOS. It allows a quite satisfactory coverage even if there are walls in between or even if the router is not in the same room. It is useful if you want to expand the coverage that your computer already has or if it does not.
This is another of the best USB dongles with a high gain steerable antenna, priced less than 15 euros and with a button for WPS encryption. If you have an old computer that you want to take advantage of, it is one of the best options and the installation and configuration is very simple. In addition, it also has the Plug & Play system so you will not have to disassemble absolutely nothing, plug and play. It is compatible with Windows and Linux and with 802.11n wireless networks.
Linksys also has its own USB dongle with a classic pendrive design that reaches a maximum speed of up to 300 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band and 867 Mbps in the 5 GHz band. It is perfect for streaming series and movies, for downloads. or for multiplayer games and works with USB 3.0 for higher transfer speeds. It has wireless security with WPA / WPA2 protection and Wi-Fi Protected Setup and is one of the best options.
ASUS also has its own Wireless Dual Band WiFi Adapter and with USB 3.0. It has two 3 × 4 MIMO antennas to get a good signal. Supports Wi-Fi 802.11ac up to 1,300 MBps speed in the 5GHZ band and up to 600 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band. It is easy to link and one of the advantages is that it has a desktop support that allows you to orient the antennas and place it so that reception signal is the best and with three different antenna positions. It is more expensive than some on this list but it is a highly recommended device with great speed and coverage.