Networking for your Pocket PC, Zaurus and Computer
by Lisa Gade,
Bluetooth Compact Flash Card BT2000-CF
AmbiCom makes reasonably priced networking
cards that are compact and power-frugal. Their Bluetooth type I
CF card not only supports Windows Mobile 2003 (Pocket PC 2003)
but also older operating systems such as Pocket PC and Pocket PC
2002. In addition, they offer Windows CE .NET drivers (NEXiO
S160 owners rejoice) and Windows XP/2000/ME drivers for those
who want to also use the card in a notebook using the included
CF to PCMCIA adapter.
This class 2 Bluetooth 1.1 compliant card supports
service discovery, device discovery, name discovery, Object Push
(used to transfer files between two BT devices), Dial-Up Networking
Profile, LAN Access Profile, Serial Port Profile, File Transfer
Profile and has a phone manager.
Pictured left to right, you'll see the most recent
revision of the card and the older revision. The newer card has
a translucent purple cap and an LED that indicates activity,
while the older card has a black plastic cap and no LEDs. Both
versions of the card worked equally well in our Pocket PCs, but
you'll need the older card if you wish to use it in the Sharp
Zaurus line of PDAs (as of this writing, the Linux community
has only created drivers for the older card which uses a different
BT chipset from the newer one).
We tested the AmbiCom card with two Pocket PCs
running Windows Mobile 2003: the Toshiba
e805 (US version which has built-in WiFi rather than Bluetooth)
and the Dell Axim X5 Advanced.
Simply select the desired operating system and
run the installer on the included CD ROM to place the appropriate
software for your Pocket PC. You may need to visit AmbiCom's
web site to download the latest Windows Mobile 2003 drivers if
you have a Pocket PC 2003 model.
Unlike HP iPAQs and cards such as the Belkin CF
model which use Widcomm drivers and Wizards that integrate into
the OS, AmbiCom's software runs from a Today Screen plugin. You'll
configure the card and its connections via this plugin. Double-tap
on the AmbiCom Today Screen plugin and you'll see four selectable
options: Dial Up..., Dial Up Setup Wizard, Phone Manager and
Blue Neighborhood. In the plugin module you'll also see a phone
icon, and you can tap on this to connect to an already configured
Bluetooth mobile phone— sweet!
To setup a Bluetooth mobile phone, you can use
the Phone Manager option, which supports Ericsson (Sony Ericsson
also works) and Nokia brands. The software will then pair with
the phone and save a Dial Up networking connection for that phone.
I tested the card with a Nokia 3650 and
the Sony Ericsson P900 and it worked well.
If you own another brand phone, you can use the
Blue Neighborhood selection from the Today Screen plugin (also
available under Programs) to scan for your phone and manually
pair. Blue Neighborhood automatically detects available services,
so it will allow you to select Dial Up networking when you tap
on the icon for your discovered phone.
Left: the latest revision of
the AmbiCom Bluetooth CF card. On the right is the older revision
which works well with Zaurus Linux PDAs.
This CF to PCMCIA adapter is
included with the card.
In addition, you can use Blue Neighborhood to ActiveSync
(if your PC has a Bluetooth adapter) and discover and pair with other
types of Bluetooth devices such as GPS, BT printers and Bluetooth access
points. Surprisingly, I didn't have any luck connecting to our Red-M Bluetooth
access point with either of my Pocket PCs using the AmbiCom card (usually
access points are the easiest to connect to). However, phone pairing
went well, and I was able to quickly and reliably connect to my Sony
Ericsson P900 using the phone icon on the Today Screen plugin.
I tested the older revision card on my Zaurus
C860 using the free BlueZ software available on SourceForge.net.
To learn how to install and set up the BlueZ software, read this detailed FAQ by
tumnus who currently maintains BlueZ for Zaurus. In addition, I installed
the high speed driver for the AmbiCom card a (must have!) and a very
nice set of GUI front end applets for Networking and PAN that integrate
into the networking applet in Qtopia on the stock Sharp ROM (they probably
work on some other ROMS, but I didn't test that). These come from my-zaurus.narod.ru/bluetooth.html
and make it very easy to work with various Bluetooth connections using
the standard networking applet interface. Hopefully, tumnus or another
talented members of the open source community will soon add a driver
for the new revision AmbiCom card currently found in most retail locations.
Once I had these software packages installed and configured,
I was able to use my Nokia 3650 as a GPRS
modem for the C860, and I happily connected to our Red-M
1050 access point. Very nice!
The AmbiCom card is a low profile, type I card that won't
break your budget or your PDA's battery. It works in both type I and
type II CF slots, and supports older Pocket PCs as well as the latest
models. AmbiCom has a strong history of frequently updating drivers,
so you should be assured that the latest drivers will be available on
their web site for download. The Today Screen plugin for Pocket PCs is
clever and convenient, though their software lacks wizards and seems
largely geared toward connecting to BT mobile phones, the card can work
for many other types of connections using the manual discovery and configuration
features of Blue Neighborhood. Connecting to the Net using your BT mobile
phone simply by tapping on the phone icon on the Today Screen plugin
is very slick, saving you time and screen taps. I recommend this card
for Pocket PC users if your primary desire is mobile phone connectivity.
If you're a Zaurus Linux PDA owner and you can find the older revision
card, buy it! It works connecting to phones and access points flawlessly
and offers very good connection speeds.
list price $69.99