Wif-Fi aka Wireless LAN is in everybody's mouth now and and while we have seen in the past a lot of W-LAN adapters for Pocket PCs in PC- and CF card size, the Pocket PC development moved forward to leave the larger CF card slot out of the devices an includes SD card slots only. Basically that's fine since prices for SD memories already dropped. However, a little bit difference is the availability of I/O (Input/Output) cards in SD size. While there are a lot of CF sized I/O cards available like bar code readers, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards, USB hosts, etc. the most important card wasn't so far available in SD size - a Wi-Fi card.
However, SanDisk recently released its SD Wi-Fi Card and thanks to them, I was able to use and review it for PPCW.Net.
The SanDisk Wi-Fi SD (Secure Digital) card is the smallest Wi-Fi card in the market. The card allows SDIO enabled devices (such as Pocket PCs and Palms) to connect to HotSpots (802.11b Access Points) worldwide for fast wireless Internet connectivity. Right now the card supports Pocket PC 2002 and Pocket PC 2003 devices that have an SDIO enabled slot. So most important is to know if your Pocket PC has a SDIO enabled slot and SanDisk already published a compatibility chart here.
The SanDisk card comes in a small plastic box which includes the SD card and a CD-ROM only; which also contains all drivers and documentation and therefore it's just enough to start your wireless journey!
The card itself is FCC approved which is important to use it in the USA.
Compared to a Wi-Fi CF or PC card you can see how small it is - amazing that this card contains the same functionalities like the bigger brothers. 8O
Plugged, into a Pocket PC, the card looks around 2.3 cm out of the device which makes sense for 2 reasons: 1st because you can't get all the stuff into the original SD card size only and 2nd because it's better for the reception because the part outside also includes the antenna.
Installation and Usage
Before you can use your card, you've to install the driver for your device type (SanDisk offers a Pocket PC 2002 and 2003 version). As Carlo already explained in a previous column, it's always a good idea to check manufactures web sites for the availability of the latest drivers so better don't take the drivers from the CD-ROM but check if a newer version is already available.
After the soft reset you can switch on your Pocket PC and plug-in the card. If your Pocket PC is SDIO enabled and the driver was installed correct it will be recognized and starts scanning for available networks (all screenshots below are made with a Pocket PC 2003):
Because Pocket PC 2003 natively supports Wi-Fi all dialogs above are Pocket PC notifications and settings because SanDisk thankfully uses the original Wi-Fi stack. This makes using the card even more convenient.
However, in addition SanDisk also provides it's own card setup wizard which is even more convenient because it provides you more options and information:
With these options you can rescan for other available networks, renew the IP address and changes other settings as well as it informs you about the signal quality.
In my tests I haven't seen any serious differences between a Wi-Fi CF card and the SD card and the reception was more or less the same. At least in the 25 m radius I've tested it I wasn't running into problems. Therefore the reception is good enough for office and HotSpot usage. Also the card is made solid, even if it looks out of the device I haven't had the feeling that it is to fragile but it seems SanDisk was aware of that and therefore strengthened the plastic.
The SanDisk SD Wi-Fi Card is a solid piece of high tech which makes your dumb Pocket PC a connected Pocket PC. Since Wi-Fi becomes more important in the home and public environment the card offers you an option to stay connected to the Internet. For a sales price of around US$ 97,95 you get a highly recommended accessory for your Pocket PC if it's not already including a W-LAN adapter.
Unfortunately, because of the absence of my xda II, I wasn't able so far to test it with the latest Pocket PC Phone Edition but imagine the options if you add that card to that Phone Edition. You will expand it from a PAN (Bluetooth)/WAN (GPRS) to a (W-)LAN device and therefore you will have the most important wireless standards included in just one device!
Overall I can admit that SanDisk delivered a great piece of W-LAN card which can easily compete with its bigger brothers!
Cheers ~ Arne
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