Surface RT Bluetooth Issues

Tech reviews from around the web have praised the Surface’s hardware. The device is snappy, solid, light and thin. However, I’m personally having a small issue that I’d like Microsoft to hear about so that they can patch it. Please spread the news with me.

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I had been using a USB mouse for the device. The touch pad on the Touch and Type covers are fine but the touch areas are just not large enough for me. I have had no problems with the USB mouse whatsoever. Using the Type Cover with the USB mouse essentially turned the device into a very thin and light Ultrabook. However, recently I connected a Bluetooth mouse. I enjoy having my desk sans cords. Cords are old fashioned. Anyway, upon initially connecting (I’ll have a rant about this in a moment) my cursor jumped all over the screen as if the device dropped down below 20 frames per second. It stayed this way only for a moment and then everything was perfectly fine. This morning, however, I connected my Bluetooth mouse and my iPhone via Bluetooth. With the two devices connected, the cursor began, again, jumping around the screen. I thought it might be the mouse itself, but had a sneaking suspicion that the actual problem was that the Surface was having trouble processing data from the iPhone and the mouse simultaneously. So I turned off the Bluetooth on my iPhone and instantly the cursor went back to moving around the screen in a normal manner.

Understand that this has not been a very scientific test and in fact, the mouse is very cheap and could still be part of the problem. But the Surface definitely has some Bluetooth issues to work out.

Specifically, I must mention the fact that connecting a device via Bluetooth is very simple the first time but reconnecting that very same devices down the road causes problems for some reason. After pairing my iPhone for instance, the iPhone shows up in the “devices” list on the Surface. I don’t keep the Surface on my person all the time, so eventually the two devices will be too far from each other to stay connected. Reconnecting the two devices should be as simple as bring them near each other and pressing a button. This is how my Mac works, this is how my iPhone pairs to my car speakers, this is how my iPhone pairs with Bluetooth headsets, but it doesn’t work on the Surface. The Surface simply will not reconnect to a paired device once it has disconnected. The only way to get the Surface to pair with my mouse or my iPhone is to remove them from the Surface’s devices list and start over. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but I have tried everything I can think of.

I must also add that during the course of my writing this article, the Bluetooth mouse was left untouched for a few minutes and it went to sleep. The only way to connect it after this happened was to remove the devices and start over. That’s extraordinarily annoying.

Ultimately, it’s not a very time consuming process. It’s simply a step backwards that I wasn’t expecting and it almost nullifies the fact that you can use a Bluetooth mouse.

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  • Andrew Raia

    I have the pro surface and experience lag as well with multiple paired devices, anyone figure that one out?

  • David

    Have the pro 2 and having bluetooth/wifi issues. Wifi won’t stay connected properly when my bluetooth headset is connected.

  • annesccr18

    So what I have found with the Surface Pro2 is once the device has already been paired with the tablet, to reconnect (for speakers anyway) you go to the volume icon in the task bar and right click. Select “Playback Devices”. Right click on the device you want and select connect. You will then have to go to the previous default sound and disable that one. After a little bit it should connect. When you want to switch back just do the same thing. If you no longer see your original default device, right click on any of the visible devices and select “Show disabled devices”. This should keep them from disappearing each time. Maybe something similar will work with other bluetooth devices such as the mouse.

    • Lane Freeze

      Hey, that’s a super awesome tip! Thanks!

  • robert hedrick

    doesn’t

  • Hendrik

    I purchased the Nokia JBL Powerup stereo speaker… absolutely fantastic!!! and was looking forward to a seamless operation which I have with my Nokia 920, but not with my Surface RT… But I have found a quick solution to reconnect…

    /open desktop /touchdown on volume button in dock /touch Playback Devices which will pop open a window /touchdown on your bluetooth device /a window will popup with lots of options /touch Connect and within a few seconds you have bluetooth connectivity again.

    I hope this helps, and Microsoft I hope your ears are flapping!!!

    • Lane Freeze

      That’s awesome. Thanks for the tip.

      • Hendrik

        That’s ok :)

        I have some good news! Somehow by doing the previously explained technique, my surface RT has no problems with bluetooth rediscovering my Nokia JBL stereo speakers :)

        Life is good, very good! :)

  • Bob

    Found that if you remove the Bluetooth device by using the control panel option it will solve the problem…If you go through the device manager it keeps coming back!!

    • Lane Freeze

      I haven’t had the issue of connecting/disconnecting/reconnecting after switching to a Microsoft branded mouse.

  • Eden

    How about if we plug a 3rd party external Bluetooth USB adapter into RT’s USB port to replace the internal Bluetooth device? Will it solve the problem?

    • Lane Freeze

      That’s a great idea. I haven’t had an opportunity to test that myself. If you try it let us know how it goes.

  • Edward Dekkers

    This is actually THE most annoying issue for me on RT, closely followed by Microsoft’s dropped support for Google Apps customers.

    In my case I like to listen to music through my Bluetooth speakers. EVERY TIME, I need to remove the device, the allow it to re-pair. RIDICULOUS!.

    Every other device lets me simply click on the paired device to connect it.

    I literally spent an hour going through all of RT looking for a solution, as I could not BELIEVE it couldn’t be done. Alas it really can’t.

    It’s unbelievable and inexcusable in my opinion. If it was quick, I’d feel a little better but the Creative D100 speakers take a few minutes to install as a sound device. Not good enough Microsoft!

    • Lane Freeze

      Interestingly enough, when using Microsoft Bluetooth products (the Wedge Touch Mouse) I have no issues at all.

  • Martin

    Yes. The difference in sound quality via bluetooth compared to a Samsung Galaxy S3 is incredible.

  • Martin

    I contacted my mouse manufacturer. Their response was
    “has the option ‘Bluetooth devices enabled to determine this computer’ been activated on your Microsoft Surface RT”

    They are based in Germany so Im not sure the translation is correct but I cannot see where this is in Windows RT.

    • http://infinistuff.wordpress.com Lane Fries

      Unfortunately it sounds to me like the Bluetooth hardware in the Surface RT is just low quality. I’m happy with a USB mouse for now.

  • Martin

    Hi, did you resolve this? I too am having the same issue with a bluetooth mouse. Ive also noticed that when sending music from an ipod to a bluetooth speaker it sounds great. However, the sound is terrible when sent from the surface.

    • http://infinistuff.wordpress.com Lane Fries

      Unfortunately I haven’t found a fix for this yet. I’m hoping that Microsoft’s own wireless mouse for the Surface (available Feb. 9th along with the launch of the Surface Pro) will work better.

  • http://lucyscountrycrafts.com/page10.php Jerome

    I must thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this blog. I really hope to see the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal blog now ;)

    • http://infinistuff.wordpress.com Lane Fries

      Thank you very much for the compliment. Post a link to your blog in the comments when you have it up and running. I’d be happy to take a look at it.

    • http://infinistuff.wordpress.com Lane Fries

      Also, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @Infinistuff

  • http://none Russell Flack

    I have similar experiences. The Bluetooth device recognition process on the Surface seems very hit and miss. And the troubleshooting guides give advise to manually setup a device but the screens that come up have no place for that. Its a real disappointment since with the speech recognition app I was really hoping to be able to “talk in documents” but no bluetooth headsets seem connectable.
    This all seem like a software proceedural oversite.

    • http://infinistuff.wordpress.com Lane Fries

      I agree. Hopefully if we can be vocal enough about the issue it will be fixed in a future update.

  • alex

    Have similar problem pairing Nokia 920 or generic Bluetooth mouse to Asus vivo tab Rt – non is able to connect and also in Bluetooth serings
    ‘allow devices to connect’ stay grey/not active and nothing change status… help???

    • http://infinistuff.wordpress.com Lane Fries

      I have not found a resolution for this issue yet. If I find one I’ll update this post. For now I’d recommend posting your question on Microsoft’s forums.

      • Jason

        In the pro version you can right-click on the volume icon in the tray and pick playback devices. From there you can connect your Bluetooth headphones. This obviously doesn’t work on RT.

        I just did a test and with my headphones, they will reconnect if you go to settings-> wireless and turn off Bluetooth and then turn it back on. Your mileage may vary.

        I completely agree that this is a big miss in win8. There really should be something in Ether the volume settings or in the devices settings to reconnect a device easily. Hope this helps.

        • http://infinistuff.wordpress.com Lane Fries

          Thanks for the tip!

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