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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

Sony WiFi Wireless LAN CF card WL100/WL110 for Sony Clié NX Series PDAs

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WiFi has finally come to Palm OS. Yes, the seldom seen HandEra 330 also accepts WiFi cards and there's been some $300 WiFi sleds for the Palm V and m500 series, but this is the first simple, not insanely priced WiFi solution for a popular Palm OS PDA. Before the Sony card, you had to own a Pocket PC to get on board with a CF WiFi card, or go with the black and white HandEra.

Sony WiFi 802.11.b network CF card

The Sony Clié NX60, NX70V and forthcoming NZ90 have a CF slot that accomodates this card. Right now, it's our only choice as no one has been able to develop drivers for other CF WiFi cards.

The WL100 uses the Intel Pro Wireless chipset. It's the Intel PRO/Wireless 2011B LAN CF Card, and you can download Pocket PC drivers and laptop drivers from Intel's site if you want to get even more mileage out of the card.

This card has good range, better than some WiFi CF cards made for Pocket PCs, and isn't a power hog. You'll probably get 65% to 75% of the runtime you'd get when not using your Clié to access the Net. You can leave the card in the PDA when not accessing the Net, but be sure to disconnect from the access point or the card will continue draw power. Sony states that you should turn off your network connection before removing the card, though I admit I've pulled the card out when done using Internet apps and the Clié handled it without any hangs or crashes.

The card supports all the usual standards: WEP encryption (40/64 and 128 bit), ad hoc and infrastructure modes, DHCP as well as manual IP and DNS configurations and HotSyncing. It also supports multiple profiles, so you can set up and save network settings for home, office and Starbucks among possible locations.

Setup

Setup is easy and user-friendly. Install the driver on your Clié, do a soft reset and whenever you insert or remove the card, you'll hear the PDA beep, just as it does when you insert or remove a Memory Stick.

The card comes with a CD containing the driver, and an instruction booklet. Do read the short instructions in the booklet as it'll probably save you some time unless you're already an experienced WiFi user. Here's a hint: disable the power saving mode found in the advanced settings screen. For some reason, the Sony card, like many other CF WiFi cards for Pocket PCs, behaves much better when power saving is disabled.

You will need to enter your network SSID (your base station's name) since the card doesn't support active discovery of available networks. If you use WEP encryption on your network, you can enter your key as either hex or characters.

HotSync

If you want to Hotsync, your computer must have a static IP address. This can be a pain since many networks use DHCP and your IP address may change. However, you can look at your computer's current IP address and enter that. Just make sure to check your computer's IP address if you've rebooted it, as the address may change. If you're running a home WiFi network, you can always manually assign your HotSync computer an IP address to avoid these issues. Most access points assign a range of permanent NAT IP addresses so this should be a viable solution, even if your ISP only gives you one address. If you do have a static IP address and aren't behind a firewall and don't use NAT, you can actually initiate a remote Hotsync while connected to an access point at your favorite Starbucks, for example! Here's a tip, for Primary PC Name, make sure to put two exclamation points, e.g.: !!mynotebook. If all of this gibberish freaks you out, you can always continue HotSyncing using your cradle or IR .

Conclusion

This is a card that does it's job, and does it well. It has good range, is fully configurable and behaves well on automatic settings. It works with a good range of access points including Apple Airport, Linksys and D-Link brands. So far, the only compatability issue I've heard of is with Cisco WiFi access points.

The card uses the Intel Pro Wireless chipset, which should insure reliability and compatability. I tested it on an Apple Airport network with maximum security settings (WEP, non-advertised SSID) and DHCP and it's worked flawlessly. As mentioned earlier, you can use this card in Pocket PCs and notebooks using Intel's drivers, which may save you money if you need a WiFi card for more than just your Clié.

Sony, list price $149

 

 

 

 

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Want to learn more about WiFi? Read our Primer.

 

 

 

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