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REVIEW: Option GlobeTrotter GSM/GPRS PC card
Posted by Arne Hess - on Monday, 10.06.02 - 20:29:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 24641x
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As most of you know I'm a wireless guy and therefore I'm always looking for GSM and specially GPRS devices. Thanks to Option I got its GlobeTrotter PC card for testing. In general, the GlobeTrotter card is pretty well known in the Pocket PC/iPAQ community as the whole technology of the Compaq Wireless Pack is identical with the GlobeTrotter because Option provides the GSM/GPRS hardware for the sleeve.
But while you can use the Wireless Pack with your iPAQ only, the Option solution gives you the possibility to use it with different Pocket PCs like the HP iPAQ series or the Casio E-200 (both needs an additional PC card jacket) as well as with your Notebook. This maybe makes the card more interesting for many users than the iPAQ Wireless Pack only.
General Features
  • Tri-band PC Radio Card suitable for use on GSM networks worldwide
  • Provides GSM Voice capability as well as GSM and GPRS Data connectivity to mobile users
  • Compatible with nearly all popular Notebook PCs, Portables, and PDA's equipped with Type II PC Card slot and Microsoft Windows operating system
  • Multislot Class 10 (4+2); Simultaneous GSM and GPRS registration
  • Multitasking: data can be transferred whilst monitoring for GSM Voice calls and simultaneously reporting network coverage
  • Future Proof - Flash upgradeable technology ensuring the latest GSM and GPRS functionality
  • Supports IPsec client software for end to end secure corporate data exchange and synchronization over VPN
  • Revolutionary integral Tri-band antenna design with "auto-sense" technology
  • Wireless Communication Manager - WCM, provides SMS and Phone utilities to your mobile device

Specifications

GPRS/GSM Air Interface

  • Tri-band operation EGSM900; GSM1800; PCS1900
  • GSM Phase 2+ Voice, Data, SMS, ALS, SS, USSD to ETSI SMG31 recommendations
  • GPRS Class B, Type 1 GPRS MT
  • Multislot Class 10 GSM 05.02 (4 slots receive, 2 slot transmit, 5 maximum active)
  • GPRS SMS GSMS supported
  • SIM standards Phase1, 2, 2+, CPHS
  • SIM Application Toolkit release 98/99

Terminal Equipment Interfaces:

  • Operating Systems: Windows 98/ME, 2000 Pro, NT4, XP Pro/Home Edition, CE 3.0 & 3.1 (PPC 2000, PPC 2002 & HPC 2000)

Hardware Features

  • Card Type: Type II PCMCIA compliant
  • External Interfaces: Miniature External Antenna (Radial M-card) Connection), 2.5 mm standard Headset connector, Status LED
  • Terminal Equipment (TE) connector: PCMCIA Standard 68 pin
  • Memory: 16 Mb Flash technology for easy upgrade
  • Integral antenna: Robust, retractable and flexible. User replaceable
  • Audio: External headset
  • Dimensions/Weight: 90 x 54 x 5mm / 45 g

Package Content

  • The GlobeTrotter PC card incl. antenna
  • A pouch where the PC card nicely fits in
  • CD-ROM with different Windows drivers incl. Pocket PC and H/PC 2000 and Acrobat files
  • The manual

Installation on the Pocket PC
On the CD-ROM, Option provides a very basic and simple CE driver for Pocket PCs and H/PC 2000 handheld PDAs. After installation, you get an additional icon in your Start menu. But first you have to plug-in the card. Here, you have to enter the PIN of your SIM card. An interesting feature is the "Auto-suspend off" mode which forces to the Pocket PC to stay switched-on, even if any power savings are adjusted on the Pocket PC.

After you've entered the PIN, the card registers to the network. A successful registration is indicated by the blue LED on the top of the PC card only.

You didn't see any changes on your Pocket PC, no network name, nothing. Only if the network registration fails you get an error message which is helpful anyway.

From here you can open the GTutility which is installed together with the driver. The GlobeTrotter Utility helps you setting up the proper APN for your PC card. This APN is stored on the PC card after a soft reset. So you don't have to setup the APN within the Pocket PC Connection Manager but on that utility only which is more convenient!

The GlobeTrotter Utility can also store more different APNs which is very useful if you work with different SIM cards from different operators.

Using GlobeTrotter on a Pocket PC
To use the PC card on your Pocket PC now, simple open the Connection Manager and create a new dial-up connection using "GlobeTrotter" as modem. For the dial-in number you can simply use *99# - that's it. Now you can dial-in into your GPRS network and the GlobeTrotter card connects like other modems.

On my Compaq iPAQ I've measured connection speeds up to 40.1 Kbit/s!

As mentioned before in the Running Voice 2.0 preview, the GlobeTrotter card works great with Running Voice 2.0 which really enhance that card to a fully functional mobile phone. And with RV 2.0 "Screen Toggle" function you can switch-off the Pocket PC display but by pressing one key only but leave the Pocket PC switched-on for incoming voice call. This saves the battery.

Also The great PPCW.Net Battery Comparison responds a very interesting result: The iPAQ/PC Card Jacket/Option GlobeTrotter combination is the one with the longest stand-by time! This means, if you are a mobile professional, that this combination could be interesting for you from the view of stand-by time.

Final Conclusion

I know, I had many dream combinations in the past but the Option GlobeTrotter card is one of my preferred one now for several reasons:
It provides the fastest GPRS connectivity I've seen until today on a Pocket PC! With its 40.1 Kbit/s it's even faster than the Compaq Wireless. while it gives you the longest stand-by time of all today's solutions.

For sure it's not as portable like an iPAQ/Bluetooth phone combination and therefore I'm using it regular but not under all circumstances but every time I need a serious and fast Internet connection.

Also the possibility to use it with a Notebook is a big advantage of the Option card. There Option also includes a complete configuration application which enables you to send and receive SMS, starting voice calls, configure the GSM functionalities as well as setting the used GSM band. On my Sony Vaio I've also measured connection speeds with peaks up to 50 Kbit/s!

The Option PC card is available directly from Option for a special introductory price of 399,00 €/359.01 US$. Option also provides a compatible network list on its website!

Cheers ~ Arne

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