Connect Plus CF WiFi + 128MB Memory card for Pocket PC Posted Sept. 25, 2003 by Lisa Gade,
Need WiFi 802.11b wireless Internet access and more
memory? Check out SanDisk's Connect Plus card, which gives you
both 128 megs of CF memory and WiFi in one small card.
The card looks identical to
SanDisk's Connect CF card, which offers WiFi but no additional
memory. It's amazingly compact considering that it has both a
wireless radio and memory, and the antenna cap that protrudes
3/4" from the Pocket PC.
It's a type I card and works in type I and type II slots. It comes
with a CF to PCMCIA adapter and Windows ME/2000/XP drivers, so
you can also use the card in a Windows notebook PC. SanDisk describes
the card as low power, and though the power consumption specs aren't
included in the manual, the card was reasonably power-friendly
(Socket being the best, and D-Link the
worst, SanDisk's card fell in the middle). The card has a single
green LED that blinks when your Pocket PC is in range of a signal
but not connected to an access point, and is solid when connected.
The Connect Plus supports Pocket PC 2002 and Pocket
PC 2003 devices. If you're looking for a card that supports older
operating systems such as Windows CE 3.0, the original Pocket PC
OS, Handheld PC 2000 as well as Pocket PC 2002, consider the SanDisk
Connect CF WiFi card, which comes with drivers for these older
operating systems and doesn't include memory. The Connect card
lists for $99, and we tested that card on older Pocket PCs and
it worked well, offering the same WiFi features as the PPC 2002
Connect Plus described below. This card also comes with a CF to
PCMCIA adapter and drivers for Windows 98/ME/NT/2000 and XP.
Installation and Drivers
The SanDisk card comes with Pocket PC 2002 and Windows
drivers, and Pocket PC 2003 drivers are available on their web
site (eventually the CD should also include 2003 drivers and instructions).
Insert the included CD into your PC and you'll see an html based
installer that allows you to pick your OS and install the driver.
The CD also contains documentation that covers using the card in
both Pocket PC and Windows operating systems and troubleshooting.
Once the driver is installed, soft reset your Pocket PC and you're
ready to insert your card and do any necessary configuration.
Configuration on Pocket PC 2002 PDAs is similar to
most other WiFi cards. You'll set DHCP and DNS info (if necessary)
in the Pocket PC's Connection Manager under the Settings group,
then use the SanDisk WiFi utility to set WEP encryption, SSID,
check link strength and etcetera. The SanDisk installer puts a
connection status icon in the taskbar that tells you if you're
in range of a WiFi network access point, and shows you a graphical
representation of signal strength. You can save multiple network
profiles, and use the access point browser (commonly referred to
as site survey) which lists all access points within range. The
AP browser tells you the name, channel, encryption status and signal
strength of each access point. Since this functionality is built
into the Pocket PC 2003 OS in a basic form, it is not included
on the Pocket PC 2003 version.
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 to just the two arrows. 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.
You've Got Memory
Under both operating systems, your Pocket PC will
show that you have a 128 meg CF storage card in the slot. You can
use this as you would any memory card, installing programs, storing
files and all that good stuff. Of course, it's particularly handy
if you wish to download files from the Net directly to the storage
cards. However, if you plan to use this as your only storage card,
remember that the card will stick out from your PDA a bit, while
regular memory cards don't protrude, and the wireless radio in
the SanDisk card will drain your Pocket PC's battery more quickly
than a memory card.
This card does not work correctly with Dell
Axim X5 Pocket PCs running Pocket PC 2002 OS. It does work
fine with Dells running Pocket PC 2003 (aka Windows Mobile 2003)
OS. We also tried it with several iPAQs, including the 2215 and
it worked well.
If you're looking to add both WiFi and some memory
to your Pocket PC, then this card is a good choice, and the price
at retailers such as Amazon is cheaper than you'd pay for other
low power CF WiFi cards plus a 128 meg memory card. Power consumption
is reasonable, wireless is reliable and the 128 megs of memory
is handy, especially if you like to download MP3s, images or other
sizeable files when online. However, if you own a Dell Axim X5
running Pocket PC 2002 OS, and don't plan to upgrade it to Pocket
PC 2003, then this card is not for you.