PalmOne SD Wi-Fi Card for the Tungsten
T5, T3, E2 and Zire 72
Posted August 31, 2004 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief. Updated May 2005.
Here's the card many Palm owners have been waiting
for: the first SD WiFi card for the palmOne Tungsten
T3, Tungsten E2 and Zire
72. PalmOne's card was released at the
beginning of September 2004 and is compatible only with
the Tungsten T3, T5, E2 and Zire 72. The card is the same
size and shape as other SD WiFi cards and protrudes about 3/4" from
the top of the Palm. It has a single LED that indicates when the
card is turned on and active. The manual states that you will need
to turn Bluetooth off before using the WiFi card.
Inside the package you'll find the card itself,
a quick start guide and a CD with drivers and a very detailed and
user-friendly PDF manual. Installing the software is a breeze and
it uses ~ 1 meg of storage space on the PDA. The software includes
the driver, Wi-Fi Setup application and a VPN Setup application.
It also adds "WiFi"
to the list of items under Prefs and a connection strength
meter to the taskbar that appears when you use the command stroke
(draw a diagonal line bottom left to upper right in the Graffiti
Setup and Features
installed the software using HotSync and soft reset your
PDA, you're ready to connect to WiFi access points. The software
supports infrastructure (access points) and ad hoc peer-to-peer
networks (a WiFi connection served from your computer rather
than an access point). It works with both 40 bit and 104
bit WEP encryption, more commonly referred to as 64 bit and
128 bit encryption. We tested it with a Linksys 802.11b access
point using 64 bit encryption among other networks and it
To connect, you'll run the Wi-Fi Setup
application on your Palm, and first select an access point
or ad hoc network from the network browser screen. If you
don't see your network, you'll need to hit the Previous button
and try again since the network browser screen doesn't refresh
in real time. The browser shows all available networks in
range and indicates signal strength and whether they're standard
or ad hoc networks. Select the network to which you wish
to connect, enter a WEP encryption key if needed in hex,
ascii or as a passphrase and you're done. Once you've established
a WiFi connection, the Palm saves it so you won't need to
re-enter the info again. If you launch an Internet application
such as Web Pro, the PDA will automatically connect to your
default access point if in range.
The card supports DHCP (default) or you
can enter your own IP and DNS info using the menu in WiFi
under Prefs. If you prefer to manually select a channel,
you can select from channels 1 through 11. You can also turn
off the Conserve Power feature which is on by default. If
you turn it off, the card will use more power and actively
search for stronger network signals. You can set it to search
for new networks when your current network's signal is very
weak, weak or moderate (not sure why one would want to switch
from a moderately strong network).
VPN's are becoming common at workplaces
and campuses, and thankfully palmOne has included a VPN client.
It's Mergic's VPN
client and uses the PPTP protocol supported by Cisco, Nortel
and Windows servers among others.
Above: the access point browser. Below, the VPN screen.
HotSyncing over WiFi
Want to HotSync over WiFi? You can do it
with the palmOne card. You'll need to sync once via cable,
IR or Bluetooth with the PDA to establish the syncing relationship,
and then you can sync over the network. Remember to turn on
network syncing under your computer's hotsync prefs, then go
to the Palm's HotSync prefs menu to configure your connection.
You'll set modem sync preferences to network sync via WiFi, then
enter your PC's info under the Primary PC Setup menu screen.
You will need to know the IP address of your PC and if your PC
uses DHCP and its IP address changes, you will need to keep the
IP address updated on the Palm. Syncing over WiFi is quite fast
and works for syncing data as well as installing software on
WiFi shortens battery life on all portable computers
such as notebooks and PDAs. The palmOne Wi-Fi Card is no exception,
and it will reduce runtimes by about 50%. We were able to surf
the web with our T3 for over one hour with power conservation turned
on and the timeout set to the default of three minutes (you can
set it to turn the card off after 3, 5, 10 or 15 minutes of network
inactivity). When not using WiFi, palmOne recommends that you remove
the card from the SD slot since it will draw a small amount of
current in sleep mode.
No, you don't have another choice right now if
you want an SD WiFi card for your Tungsten T5, T3, E2 or Zire 72.
Even if the card had competition, it would be a recommended buy
thanks to its reliable connections, good signal strength, configurability
and included VPN client. If you have one of those models and want
to use WiFi, go for it!