SMC Networks SMC2642W WiFi type II CF card for Pocket PC
SMC is one of the big players in the networking business. I'm
thrilled to see them enter the Pocket PC area since they make excellent
products. The 2642W CF card has the best range of any WiFi CF card
I've tested, which puts it on my short list. It will also work
with the iPAQ 2215 running Pocket PC 2003 OS. Though the current
driver isn't for Pocket PC 2003, it works fine, minus the Zero
Configuration network feature of Pocket PC 2003.
SMC claims this card has a 700 foot range in an open environment,
and while like most manufacturers' claims, this is a bit optimistic,
I did get about 30% more range out of this card than any other.
Keep in mind the average range of an access point is about 150
feet. I was able to walk outside our offices and maintain a connection
to our Apple AirPort (not famous for its long range) through walls
about 100 feet. What's even nicer is that it doesn't suck an inordinate
amount of power or have a huge antenna cap to get that range.
Given the strong range of this card, it'd make a great companion
for anyone who travels frequently and needs to pick up WiFi access
points that may be weak or hard to find with other cards. That
said, I do wish the wireless application for Pocket PC listed access
points within range (site survey). It's hard to do wardriving without
this, and this would otherwise be the perfect device for sniffing
The card is a type II CF card that's compatible with Pocket PCs
and Handheld PCs that have a type II slot as well as notebooks
running Windows 98/ME/NT/2000 and XP. Drivers are included on the
companion CD for all these. You can use any type II to PCMCIA adapter
to use the card in a notebook. SMC also offers a version of this
card that includes the adapter (SMC2645W).
The CD comes with setup applications for Windows CE (Pocket PCs
and Handheld PCs) and Windows notebooks. There's a detailed pdf
manual and a printed manual that describes installation and setup
for each OS. Installation on Pocket PC and the notebook was straightforward:
select your target (PDA or notebook), launch the installer and
it'll install the driver and wireless utility on your PDA or notebook.
Once the software is installed on your
Pocket PC, do a soft reset to reboot the PDA and you're ready
to configure your network connection. Like most cards, you'll
specify whether you want to use DHCP or an assigned IP address
using the Pocket PC's connection manager. To change other settings,
you'll use the "Wireless LAN Settings" app
that's installed in your Settings group under the system tab. Here
you'll see tabs for status, Configuration, Link and Security. If
you're using a base station that doesn't use WEP and your network
is DHCP, you probably won't even have to touch the wireless utility.
Status tells you the name of the access point to which your PDA
is currently connected, link quality (quality of data being transmitted),
signal level, and more. The configuration tab lets you select between
auto discovery and connection to an access point or specifying
your own (you'll need to specify your base station's name if it's
set to not broadcast its availability). You'll also specify if
you wish to connect via infrastructure or ad hoc, change the Tx
rate if you wish and enable or disable power savings. The Link
tab, despite it's name, doesn't show you link status, but rather
allows you to enter an IP address to ping if you want to test your
card. The Security tab is where you'll turn on WEP encryption.
You can use 64 bit or 128 bit encryption, choose between shared
key or open system, and enter your key in either character or hex
This is a great card for the money! Great range from the 14dBm
antenna, which surpasses other cards I've tested. Setup and installation
are straightforward. I only wish it offered site survey so that
one could see a list of available networks.