A simple and inexpensive solution to provide bluetooth audio to the Switch.
The adoption of Bluetooth audio technology becomes increasingly more widespread as the cost of entry continues to decrease. Rarely can I walk down the street without spotting a pair of Apple AirPods these days, and even more options are available for the more budget conscious. At the time of the Switch launch, I can’t say I thought much about the exclusion of a bluetooth audio connection, but now that I take my headphones with me everywhere I go, finding a third party option to add the connection has become a necessity. Enter the Creative BT-W3. This tiny transmitter attaches via the USB-C port and couldn’t be simpler to use. The inclusion of multiple codecs to provide specific listening improvements certainly is a nice touch but the thing I like most about the BT-W3 is that it just works as advertised.
Nothing is more frustrating than battling with technology and thankfully that is avoided (mostly) with the Creative BT-W3. Simply attaching the small dongle to the Switch activates the device, and holding the button activates the pairing for that first connection to your headset. It’s simple, quick, and sounds fantastic. The power required to run the device is minimal; less than 1% of the Switch battery is used, and I couldn’t detect any noticeable drain while playing. For those looking for advanced features, the BT-W3 comes with four pre-installed codecs that enhance the audio in specific situations. The aptX Low Latency codec ensures zero lag between the device and in-game audio, aptX HD transmits the audio at a higher bit-rate to compatible headsets, aptX is used with lower end bluetooth devices, and finally SBC is the standard codec used for headsets not compatible with aptX.
My own bluetooth headset is a mid-range Panasonic over the ear option. The BT-W3 only transmitted the three aptX options, with only the HD codec providing a noticeable difference. The music and sounds all came through with no detectable lag and I never experienced any dropped connections or stuttering. Pairing my device never presented any issues, and the small size of the dongle never distracted me or got in the way of playing my Switch on the go. With the relatively low number of games that have in-game voice chat, I tested the included microphone attachment on my PlayStation 4. Unfortunately, the ease of use applies only to the dongle as adding the mic attachment required changing my settings around to get it working. Attempting to use the mic on a Switch will take even more work as the firmware of the BT-W3 will need to be updated in order to use it.
Mic issues aside, the bluetooth audio functionality of the Creative BT-W3 makes it a reliable option for those looking for a way to connect their wireless device to the Switch. The device checks all the boxes with its ease of use, excellent audio quality, and low profile. Until we get a new hardware upgrade on the Switch, the BT-W3 remains a wonderful option for folks looking to add bluetooth functionality to their Nintendo handheld.