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REVIEW: Sierra Wireless AirCard 750 GSM/GPRS
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 16.07.02 - 12:38:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 14080x
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Sierra Wireless AirCard 750 GSM/GPRS wireless network cards provide LAN-like connectivity while you’re on the road. Sierra Wireless AirCard 750 wireless network cards allow you to continue to work as if you’d never left the office, with wireless access to email, intranet, corporate applications and full web browsing. Get seamless wireless Internet connectivity as they connect their notebook or handheld device directly to the GPRS network. The Sierra Wireless AirCard 750 GPRS is a Multislot class 12 capable GPRS card and provides simultaneous support for GPRS and SMS messaging to ensure that you are always available to receive information.
Technical Specifications

AirCard 750:

  • Type II PC Card (not extended)
  • GPRS Class 12 Capability (up to 4 Tx, 4 Rx, 5 total)
  • External hinged antenna

Operating Systems Support:

  • Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT 4.0, Me, XP, Pocket PC,
    Pocket PC 2002, HPC 2000

Additional Connectivity Support:

  • Support for Multiple APN's
  • SMS (send and receive)
  • V.42bis compression
  • NDIS Driver host interface
  • Dial-up networking
  • Voice, fax, circuit-switched data

GPRS:

  • GSM 900 MHz, DCS 1800 MHz and PCS 1900 MHz

Approvals:

  • Compliant with GSM Release 99 SMG 31 Phase 2+
    Other approvals pending

AirCard 750 Software:

  • Watcher for Notebooks, Pocket PC, and Handhelds

Sierra Wireless AirCard 750 is a tri-band wireless PC Card for worldwide access to GSM and GPRS networks. Its external hinged antenna is easy to use and provides excellent tri-band functionality. The Sierra Wireless AirCard true Type II PC Card design and application software seamlessly and effortlessly integrate into the Windows notebook and handheld device and support Windows 95 (OSR 2 and higher), 98, NT 4.0, 2000, Me, XP, PPC 2000, PPC 2002 and HPC2000.

Installation
The Sierra Wireless comes with everything you need for using it on your Pocket PC. After the pretty easy installation from the CD ROM, which lets you select which driver you want to install, a new application - called AirCard Watcher - is added into Programs.

Running AirCard Watcher
This application let's you control your AirCard and is a complete interface - expect voice capabilities - to use the AirCard with the Pocket PC. Here you have to enter the PIN and you get also all required information about your current network like signal strength or GPRS availability. It's also a SMS client an let you control all your network settings (incl. switching the band between GSM 900/1800 and 1900 MHz) like call forwarding or the GPRS settings.


Using GPRS
Slightly different from the normal connection process is how the AirCard works. It bypasses the Pocket PC Connection Manager because you can not use it for connecting the Internet. Here for you have to use the AirCard Watcher also. If you've configured your GPRS connection you can connect to the Internet right from the AirCard Watcher by tapping the Connect button below the virtual screen.
After it successful connected, a data counter appears also which provides you how much data you've sent and received.

This doesn't works bad, however it's against the Microsoft philosophy to provide auto-connect if required. This means that you have to connect to the GPRS network first before you can use Pocket Internet Explorer, Inbox or Messenger.
Anyway - after you connect your AirCard through the AirCard Watcher, you can use all kind of Internet services as you've used to use. A little bi disappointing is the fact that you are not able to add any Proxy server to the Internet settings (as you are not online through the Connection Manager). This means that you are not able to use the card if your operator/ISP requires proxy settings.

Making Phone Calls
To use the AirCard for voice calls also, you need a 3rd party application like Running Voice as there isn't a voice interface integrated into the AirCard Watcher. In my tests I used Running Voice 2.0 (see my preview here) which supports the Sierra Wireless AirCard also and it worked like a charm! Running Voice 2.0 gives you again the possibility to send and receive voice calls with your Pocket PC. However, for sure you have to use a headset (which isn't delivered with the AirCard).

Card Design
The card is a typical PC card Type II card. Plugging in the SIM card is pretty easy and the LED on the top gives you an overview if you are connected to the network or not. However, I don't like the antenna design at all. From my point of view it's to long and awkwardly shaped and because it is removable, I'm sure it's lost pretty easy. Here I would prefer an other kind of antenna design.

Final Conclusion

All together the card is designed pretty good and also the AirCard Watcher makes sense. However bypassing the Connection Manager isn't the best way to enable connectivity as you lose a lot of functionalities and convenience! However, I like to see that Sierra Wireless integrated the Pocket PC functionalities in general. Also some kind of options like the "Transmit Power Consumption" which can be changed between Normal (Notebook), Medium and Low (PDA) is fantastic. Here the technical stuff had a real great idea.

If the AirCard would be the only triple-band GPRS card on the market I would recommend without any problems. However, compared to the Option GlobeTrotter (see my review here)it has some weaknesses. Even if the Pocket PC interface is realized better on the AirCard, you don't need a tool like that at all. The advantage of the GlobeTrotter card is, that it works smooth with the Pocket PC Connection Manager and also the speed results I got from it was even faster (on the Notebook as well as on the Pocket PC). And the antenna design of the GlobeTrotter unbeatable. There is nothing bulky and you can not lose the antenna! Also the Option card, with at least the same technical specifications, is US$ 30.00 less than the Sierra Wireless AirCard 750 GSM/GPRS. But sometimes it's a question of smack. ;-)

Cheers ~ Arne

Related Links : [Buy Here] [More Information]


 

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Comments
Posted by Phil on 24.07.02 - 00:00:00

Arne, The Aircard will Be triband and well be on sale for T-mobile US. and for 340$ its in testing now im part of the wireless data Group for tmobile-US

Posted by Saar Avigour on 14.02.03 - 00:00:00

Can the AirCard/PCcard Sleeve and 5450 "work" together with a Bluetooth headset, using the IPAQ's bluetooth connection....interesting

Posted by Thomas Chan on 10.02.05 - 10:14:41

Just found out that Running Voice GSM does not support this card.

http://www.pocketpresence.c...

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