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