Both the Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) and the Bluetooth standards are based on separate protocols. Let's try to understand the difference between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, comparing and contrasting them, on the various aspects of their working.
Wi-Fi has been a favorite for making LANs (Local Area Networks) at homes and offices, right from the time of its introduction . It is very obvious that the process becomes easy at home, if you do not need to integrate LAN cables in your system to form a network, to share the Internet connection. In offices, the use of wireless LANs causes a reduction in the cost of the LAN installation. The range of Wi-Fi is hence quite high, around 300 feet from the wireless networking node. Bluetooth, on the other hand has a short range of around 30 feet.
As already mentioned, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi work on different standards. Recent Wi-Fi installations are based on 802.11n standard. Bluetooth devices currently follow the Bluetooth 2.0 standard.
Connection and Installation
Bluetooth devices do not need any installation or configuration. The working of Bluetooth devices is very simple and hence they do not require to be configured. You can simply select the other Bluetooth enabled device, to which you want to transfer the data. If you want to enable the Bluetooth facility in your personal computer, then all you have to do is to just buy a Bluetooth adapter. The dongle comes along with a setup CD and you can simply install the setup, to get your computer, Bluetooth enabled. However, Wi-Fi requires some configuration. For a Wi-Fi enabled network, you will need to install routers and modems.
Type of Network
Wi-Fi is used for the formation of a wireless LAN (Local Area Network). A large number of desktop computers and laptop computers can be connected using Wi-Fi, whereas, you cannot form a Local Area Network (LAN), in the case of Bluetooth. Bluetooth allows you to form a PAN (Personal Area Network).
Another difference between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is that, the data transfer rate for bluetooth is much higher than that of Wi-Fi. Using Bluetooth, you can transfer data at the rate of 800 kbps, whereas, Wi-Fi is susceptible to data losses and hence has lower speeds. If you are connected to the Internet using Wi-Fi, your downloading speed will be less than what you would get when you are connected using broadband internet.
Applications of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth differ with respect to their applications as well. Bluetooth is used for data and file transfers, from one device to the other. You can access a Bluetooth enabled printer from your computer, using it. Using Wi-Fi, you can not only make small data transfers, but you can access databases and software located in some other machine in the network too. A wireless internet access can also be provided to all the computers in the wireless LAN. In case of Bluetooth, this is not possible. However, you can connect a Bluetooth enabled computer to the internet, if you can access the internet with the GPRS in your Bluetooth enabled cell phone.
Wi-Fi is a technology that has been in use for longer, as compared to Bluetooth. Almost all computers that are manufactured today have the wireless LAN card installed in them. Bluetooth is a comparatively new technology. But the cell phone and laptop manufacturers have started integrating this facility in the devices that they manufacture. The main difference between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, because of which Bluetooth is not used as widely as Wi-Fi, is its range. Otherwise, the Bluetooth standard is known very well, because of its high data transfer rate and the data security that it provides.