In Praise of Wires

Hardware and Accessories

There is a lot of vogue nowadays for Bluetooth and wireless. There is no doubt that when they work the connection appears almost magical and neat with no trailing wires or bulk. The operative word though is when they work.

It may be that I am unlucky but I have a chequered history with both wireless and Bluetooth devices and they have never enjoyed long term success with me.

For example when I bought my iMac in 2011 it had, initially both a pre paired wireless Track-pad and Keyboard, which apparently looked very neat and played lovely with the Mac side of my machine. The problem was however that it was a horrendous nightmare to set up with the Windows Boot Camp side of things. I will not bore you with the labyrinthine steps which would have been necessary to make the Bluetooth devices work on both platforms but suffice to say it was far simpler to plug in a USB keyboard and mouse every time I wanted to use Windows. Eventually I bought an apple wired extended keyboard which could work fine with both Mac and Windows which avoided this clunkiness.

Similarly internet Wi-Fi worked, sort of, on my iMac but kept on dropping out during long downloads. I abandoned the neatness of cable less Wi-fi for an unsightly Ethernet cable extension trailing across my desk to my router. It may not look so neat but ever since then I have enjoyed rock solid fast internet connection on my iMac.

Peculiarly I forgot all these lessons last year. What I want to do was control my iMac from my armchair. As the Mac is on a desk behind me at the other end of the room I thought Bluetooth was the obvious answer. I hit upon getting a Logitech 810 Bluetooth keyboard, a Bluetooth separate numpad keypad , , and use blue tooth to send the audio straight into my hearing aids. Basically the logitech worked for about 3 weeks and then completely died. The bluetooth numpad keypad never ever connected and I could never get that to make any communication. An old alternative Apple Wireless keyboard would only come on for seconds before disconnecting also. Even a computer engineer I called in could not get these devices to behave. Bluetooth on the Mac was working fine with other devices so it was device led unpredictability. It was about that time that the bluetooth connection on my comp pilot stopped sending sound from my TV to my hearing aids so I decided not to even go there with trying to pair that with my Mac.

So I had spent over a £120 getting absolutely nothing except varying levels of frustration and hassle. I am a reasonably competent computer user, but as I say even an engineer could not wrestle functionality out of these devices. It was during this time he made two confessions to me. The first one is that he loved bluetooth and wireless because their notorious unpredictability and flakiness kept him in a constant supply of work. He received quite a good supply of work from frustrated customers who could not cudgel acceptable performance out of their devices. He also confessed that because of this almost daily experience he never used the technology himself when he could instead use a wire. If you put a wire in there is no need for pairing, no need for passwords, no need for any protocols just plug the blinking wire in and it will work.

Finally I remembered my lessons. I went on E bay and bought a 5 metre USB repeater extension cabled for £3.45. I also bought a 5 meter headphone extension cable for £4. Both devices arrived the next day.

I stretched both cables to my armchair by tucking them under the carpet alongside the skirting board. I plugged my normal keyboard into the USB extension, and my normal headphones into the headphone extension. From less than 5 minutes of starting the whole project off I had perfect control of , and sound from my iMac in my armchair. This has worked for months now without the glimpse of a hitch. It was so simple and easy I felt like kicking myself, not only for the money I had needlessly wasted but most especially for all the hassle I had caused myself in the foolish and needless pursuit of the vogue for bluetooth and wireless.

I am sure that there are many of you who delight in your bluetooth headsets and keyboards. I do note however that there is a constant stream of complaints of connectivity problems on the mailing lists, especially with Braille devices. I have no intention of ever even trying to pair my Focus 40 Braille display with bluetooth, it has a perfectly good wire and all I have to do is plug it in. Similarly with a printer all I have to do is plug it in. I hear all of sorts of issues with people struggling with wireless drives. I just bought a 4 TB USB drive and plugged it in. I love wires nowadays as they just make life easier.

I just offer this peon of praise for wires as an an alternative route for those who may want a simpler life.

David Griffith



Submitted by burak on Friday, January 2, 2015

I agree with you. If I have bluetooth and wifi on at the same time, they interfeer with each other so I rarely use bluetooth.

Submitted by Clare Page on Friday, January 2, 2015

HI! It was interesting to read the post above, and I can totally see where the writer was coming from, after bad experiences with both bluetooth and wireless devices. I'm the other way round myself, I seem more likely to break wired things, so I am lucky that bluetooth and wi-fi have never been a source of problems for me. I started using wi-fi several years ago, long before I got my first iPhone, when the Ethernet cable for the desktop PC I had back then gave up the ghost, and since then, having broken several sets of wireless headphones over the years, I have come to welcome the wireless and bluetooth vogue. But each to their own! We can all use what suits us best, and that's definitely a good thing. So, much as I like going wireless, for some devices at least, I'd never criticise anyone who'd rather have wires.

Submitted by UndergroundRiver on Monday, December 26, 2016

I was searching Applevis trying to find the details of the wired keyboard layout cuz I just got one for xmas and can't even remember if it has an FN key.
Oddly enough, I have had the opposite problem; I have had trouble with USB extension cables!
I am sure the one I had was just a lemon, and that any others would work great.
I've used audio extenders and they work.
I am mixed wired and wireless.
I don't want a wireless hard drive right now, but keyboards are good.
I think the technology has improved recently.
I remember my wireless keyboard would act weird, but then when Apple released updates, it worked better so it was likely software improved as well as hardware.
I now love that keyboard that wasn't working before.
I like wired ones for when batteries die.
Now with te lightning ones I think you can use it wired or wireless.
I have a wireless printer. Installing it is a pain, but it's nice to have it shared with te household and not try to cram your computer on a table full of printer and wires only to print 1 page.
I couldn't use my iOS devices without bluetooth. Apple doesn't seem t allow for wired connections with braille displays on that.
I have a Focus 14 Blue which works great with bt.
The wires work great with the Mac.
I find bt works better on iOS but that may just be luck.
I have sort of both when it comes to my hearing aids. I hate having headphones purched on my head and most don't fit well.
I have bt for my hearing aids. Rather than pair the little box with the Mac, I just use the cable and plug the little "TV" adaptor into the headphone jack on the Mac, and then the "TV" thing is paired with my hearing aid and it works great as long as the little box is near me.
I don't have to deal with sound output issues on the Mac since it has a cord to the little "TV" box.
So my experience teaches me that a combo of both wired and wireless devices is what I like.
Now off to search for layout info so I can use this wired keyboard better.

Submitted by charles on Monday, December 26, 2016

This was a well written article which I agree with. The one thing not mentioned, though, is the lag of Bluetooth. I have, on occasion, used my Focus 40 Blue with my iPhone, but it is generally plugged into my Windows PC through a USB cable. As for Bluetooth headsets, how can you record musical tracks and then work with them to make a good .mp3 production if you always have to deal with the lag of Bluetooth? This is why I use the Windows PC with wires. Also, has anyone noticed the problems with Focus 40 Blue displays with IOS 10.2? If wires were used, the problem would not exist, and this is not a problem brought on from the braille display. It is clearly a firmware issue. If it ain't broke, why did they try to fix it? I am a fan of wires. The acronym "KISS" applies. It stands for "keep it simple, Stupid".

Submitted by UndergroundRiver on Monday, December 26, 2016

I have had lag issues with bt especially on Windows PCs.
I don't have any issues using bt with my iOS devices though.
I have heard of the pairing problems with Focus displays and 10.2, I hope they fix that soon.
I did find the info I was originally searching for and will make a new post about it since it doesn't go here.
I agree the original post was well-written. Keep in mind though that technology changes and the original post was made some months ago and I believe the poster mentioned a 2011 iMac so quite possibly a 2015 iMac would not have the same issues.
I do think people should use whatever works best for their situation.
If wires are what our prefer, great. If you like wireless things, right. If you like to mix and match and complicate your life like I do, go for it.
Happy new year.

Submitted by UndergroundRiver on Monday, December 26, 2016

I want to be clear that I did not mean my post to say that people should upgrade theit stuff.
My point was only that tech changes.
Also, for me, wireless devices aren't a matter of looking good or fashion.
Having wires on my person is not comfortable fr me. They'e ok on the desk. I was so totall happy when I stopped needing to wear wired headphones. I don't like how messy wires can get if you have too many, so that's another reason no wires is god for me.
So I am really just saying that whatever works best for you is what you should do.
Thanks for understanding and enjoy the wires or wirelessness or some complicated combo.

Submitted by Ekaj on Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thanks for this. My brother gave me a blue-tooth speaker for Xmas yesterday, and this will be my first time ever using blue-tooth. Now I think I know what to look forward to, lol! But I've mostly had very good luck with my MBA, so I'm pretty optimistic about this speaker. Someone gave me a set of very good external speakers for use in my apartment, and I think I'll be able to use this new one downstairs or out back when it's nice and we have parties etc. Apparently this one has Siri capabilities too, so I'm excited about that. Edit: It is now a couple days later, and my new speaker has been charging since early this morning. I tested out a couple of the buttons just to make sure they make an audible click when pressed, and sure enough they do. The thing was pretty easy to unpack and plug into my power strip too. I'm definitely going to try and review this product once I get going with it. I checked out the Blue-tooth section of System Preferences, so now I think I pretty much know what to expect when actually configuring the speaker to work with my Mac.