Wave2Net 802.11b WiFi CF
type I card for Pocket PC (WL1100C) Posted August 19, 2003 by Lisa
AmbiCom has been in the business of making networking
and modem CF cards for Windows CE and Pocket PC devices for several
years. Their Wave2Net WiFi CF card is one of those wonderfully
versatile cards that can work with older HPCs running WinCE 2.11
and WinCE 3.0 as well as Pocket PC, Pocket PC 2002 and now Pocket
PC 2003 and .NET. For those of you who own the old Casio BE-300
and E-200 machines,
you'll be happy to know the AmbiCom is compatible. It's a type
I card that will work in PDAs that have either a type I or type
II CF slot. For some reason there aren't any HPC 2000 drivers.
The card has a relatively
small antenna cap with a single LED that indicates connection
activity. Despite the fact that the AmbiCom is a compact type
I card with a small antenna cap, it got a strong signal and was
competitive in terms of range with the other CF WiFi cards reviewed
on this site. It supports automatic fallback from 11 Mbps to
1 Mbps, which means if you're very far from the access point,
it will reduce the transmission rate to compensate. It uses 370
mA for TX (sending), 250 mA RX (receiving) and 100 mA when idle.
The Wave2NET supports 64 bit (also called 40 bit) and 128 bit
WEP encryption, and can work in infrastructure and ad hoc modes.
The card uses the widely popular and robust Intersil Prism 2.5
Installation and Drivers
The AmbiCom card comes with drivers for WinCE 2.11,
WinCE 3.0, the Casio BE-300 and Pocket PC 2002 operating systems.
You can download drivers for Pocket PC 2003 and .NET from www.ambicom.com.
Insert the included CD into your PC and you'll see an html based
installer that contains info and drivers for all of AmbiCom's WiFi
products. Select the install driver option, then the OS that your
PDA is running to install the driver.
Configuration varies depending on which PDA and OS
you're using, and we tested the card on the NEC
MobilePro 780 running Windows CE 2.11 Pro, the NEC
MobilePro 900 running HPC 2000 and the iPAQ
2215 running Pocket PC 2003 (aka Windows Mobile). Most Pocket
PC and HPC configuration applications should look the same, with
the exception of Pocket PC 2003 and .NET devices which use Windows
Connection Manager on the device to configure network cards instead
of vendor-supplied utilities.
On Pocket PC 2003 models you'll use the new Connection
Manager to configure your connection to WiFi networks after installing
the driver. When the card is inserted in the Pocket PC's CF slot,
you'll see the two arrows at the top of the screen with an X under
them, change. If you're in range of an open WiFi network, the X
will disappear and you should see a dialog box pop up from the
arrows asking you if you wish to join the network(s) the device
has found. If the network uses WEP encryption, the PDA will ask
you to enter the WEP key to join the network. For more detailed
info on how to use WiFi networking on the Pocket PC 2003 OS, check
out the manual that came with your PDA.
On older operating systems such as Windows CE 2.11
and WinCE 3.0 based PDAs (HPC 2000, Pocket PC), you'll see that
a configuration application called WL1100x has been installed on
your Start menu. This is a full featured config application with
a tabbed interface that gives you status: which WiFi network you're
connected to, connection mode, channel, link rate (e.g.: 11 Mbps)
and encryption. You can also get your IP info here. The Configuration
tab lets you set the connection mode (Infrastructure or Ad Hoc),
specify the SSID, set the link rate (auto, 11, 5.5, 2 or 1 Mbps),
and optionally set fragmentation, RTS threshold and preamble mode
(long, short, auto). The Security tab is where you'll setup WEP
encryption if necessary. It supports 40 bit, 64 bit and 128 bit
encryption using HEX keys or a passphrase. As you might guess,
the Ping tab allows you to ping the IP address or site of your
choice to test your connection. The Performance tab tells you the
signal strength, link quality and throughput in bytes/sec of your
current connection. And the icing on the cake is the AP Browser
tab, which offers a site survey of all access points within range.
It tells you the SSID, MAC address, channel, signal strength and
WEP status for each AP in range.
This is a great card! It's very reasonably priced,
has good power consumption numbers and works in both type I and
type II slots. Range and reception are good, and the AP Browser
is a wonderful feature for those who travel to different access
points frequently (sorry PPC 2003 folks, you don't get this feature).
The Wave2Net works with just about every Windows CE and Pocket
PC machine, and can be a great choice if you still run older HPCs
or WinCE devices in addition to newer Pocket PC 2002 or 2003 models.