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Access Points:

D-Link Pocket Router/AP

WiFlyer

Palm OS:

Enfora Wireless Portfolio

PalmOne SD WiFi Card for the Tungsten T5, Tungsten T3, Tungsten E2 and Zire 72

SanDisk SD WiFi Card (Zire 71 only)

Sony WL100 WiFi CF Card for Clié

Windows Mobile, Pocket PC:

AmbiCom WL1100C type I CF card

Belkin type II CF card

D-Link 650W type II CF card

Linksys WCF12 type I card

Linksys WCF11 type II CF card

Mobis Just Mobile 802.11b/g SD card

SanDisk SD WiFi Card

SanDisk SD WiFi Card + 256 megs RAM

SanDisk Connect Plus CF WiFi + 128MB memory

SMC 2642W type II CF card

Socket P300 Go WiFi! SD card

Socket Communications LAN type I CF card

Socket SDIO WiFi Card

Spectec miniSD WiFi Card new!

 

WiFi (802.11b) Networking for your PDA

SanDisk Connect SD 256 Megs RAM + WiFi card for Pocket PC
Posted June 16, 2004 by Lisa Gade, Editor-in-Chief

SanDisk's SD WiFi card for Pocket PCs supporting SDIO was released almost a year ago and was a big hit. Now that most Pocket PCs don't come with CF slots, those who wished to network their machines using WiFi were left unconnected. SanDisk and Socket's SD card offerings fixed that problem. Now, on to the next problem: your Pocket PC has precious little memory, and you can't use an SD memory card when the SD WiFi card is in the slot. SanDisk comes to the rescue with their SD WiFi + 256 megs RAM card.

SanDisk SD WiFi 802.11.b network card

Compatible with Pocket PC 2002 and Windows Mobile 2003 devices with an SDIO slot, the SanDisk card offers similar features as their regular SD WiFi card, but adds on 256 megs of RAM, which will appear as a storage card under File Explorer. You can place any files and applications you wish on the card's memory, and it responds as quickly as a standard SanDisk SD storage card. The card is functionally similar to SanDisk's Connect Plus CF WiFi + 128 megs memory card, so SanDisk is no stranger to combining WiFi with RAM.

SanDisk SD WiFi card in Samsung i700

The SanDisk SD WiFi card in the Samsung i700 Pocket PC Phone.

SanDisk SD WiFi card in Mitac Mio

And in the Mitac Mio 168.

 

The card protrudes 1 inch from the Pocket PC (their non-RAM card extends 7/8") and has a green LED connection indicator. Though the antenna cap isn't small, it does house a radio that has impressive range and memory too. The card is power frugal, and won't drain your Pocket PC's battery as fast as some CF WiFi cards. However, since SD slots aren't as fast as CF slots, pages will take a little bit longer to download compared to CF WiFi cards. I tested the SanDisk against the Socket CF WiFi card on identical pages using Pocket IE with an empty cache, and the SD card took about 1 to 2 seconds longer to download a page (that's not bad!). Of course, if your Pocket PC doesn't have a CF slot or integrated WiFi, slightly slower performance is a small penalty to pay for adding wireless.

Installation and Drivers

The SanDisk card comes with Pocket PC 2002 and Windows Mobile 2003 drivers. 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 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. It replaces the pre-installed SD storage card driver on the Pocket PC in order to support the RAM on the card, and this caused no problems when using standard SD memory cards.

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. The utility works the same on Pocket PC 2002 as it does on Pocket PC 2003, which is further described below. Both versions have a handy access point browser (commonly referred to as site survey or wardriving) which lists all access points within range. The AP browser tells you the name, channel, encryption status and signal strength of each access point. On Pocket PC 2002 models, an icon for the WiFi utility will be installed in the Programs group, and on Windows Mobile 2003 PDAs it will be installed under the Connections tab under settings. These icons launch the same utility that appears on the taskbar. You can however tell the utility to not display on the taskbar, and instead you can use the icon to get to the utility.

On Pocket PC 2003 models you'll use the new Connection Manager to configure your connection to WiFi networks. When the card is inserted in the Pocket PC's SD slot, SanDisk's utility will appear in the system tray on the bottom of your Today screen. This utility allows you to turn the radio on and off, get network status (link quality and strength, channel, available access points, turn on 802.1x, view your IP address, renew IP address, Ping, view current TCP/IP values and BSSID name). The Advanced Configuration menu item allows you to set power save mode and preamble mode. If you prefer to not have the utility appear on the taskbar, you can use the WiFi utility icon in the Settings->Connections group. It's nice to have both native Pocket PC 2003 configuration and a utility that allows you to view all the details and change several connection and power settings! In fact, you can use SanDisk's utility rather than the Pocket PC Connection Manager if you wish when connecting to new access points. The card worked well with our Samsung i700 Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition device and the Mitac Mio 168 running Windows Mobile 2003.

Conclusion

SanDisk's SD WiFi card was a hit, and this card, which adds an ample 256 megs of storage should also be a big hit. Though they have a strong reputation as a memory card manufacturer, that reputation now extends to the PDA networking area with their WiFi products. As with SanDisk's SD WiFi card, I recommend this product. The driver is full-featured and reliable and is easily removed (which can't be said of all Pocket PC networking drivers). It comes with both Pocket PC 2002 and Windows Mobile 2003 (aka Pocket PC 2003) drivers.

Compatibility

This card does not work with Toshiba Pocket PCs other than the e405 and e805, even though they have SDIO slots, due to lack of a software stack for SDIO cards other than Toshiba's Bluetooth SD card. The Dell Axim X5 is not supported because it does not have an SDIO slot. Your Pocket PC must have an SDIO slot and run either Pocket PC 2002 or Windows Mobile 2003 OS.

SanDisk, list price $129

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Want to learn more about WiFi? Read our Primer.

 

 

 

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