PdaNet – Palm OS Utility

pdanet-header

HP Mini 1000 Netbook, remember? Whole series of reviews by some really cool people (and me)? A major strong point was easy wireless connectivity? Remember all of that?

So, what about when you are not near a Wi-Fi source and don’t wanna pop for a cell modem and the related costs? My Palm Centro is Bluetooth enabled and can access the net, and my Mini is Bluetooth enabled- surely there is a way to connect the two?!?!

June Fabrics PdaNet has a series of programs designed for just this purpose! Better yet, it does it for free after you have paid for the program!

PdaNet is available for Windows Mobile, iPhone, Blackberry and Android, so should cover most ‘Smartphones’ available. I trialed the PalmOS version.

Main Screen, and about the only screen!

Main Screen, and about the only screen! "Port" can be Bluetooth or USB

It downloads and installs smoothly and asks you if you wish to load a related application, PdaReach, at the same time. We will discuss PdaReach a little later.

Your first connection may be a bit tricky, but certainly nothing too difficult. You just choose USB or Bluetooth on the Palm, and if you choose Bluetooth, check the Bluetooth option in the desktop PdaNet application (it will be in the  taskbar). You may need to play with the COM settings but it usually does it right the first time. Oh, and if you do go with Bluetooth, make sure your Hot Sync is set to Bluetooth as well. I actually had to work harder to connect with the USB cable than I usually do using Bluetooth!

(OK, so there are a couple tricky little bits sometimes. The on-line documentation is good, but it can be kind of spotty on questions like this. My experience so far has been that figuring out the problem and a solution was usually easy.)

Open it up and you’ll be surfing the net at a ‘blazing’ 56 to 144kbps- from about as fast as  to almost 3 times the speed of a 56k modem. You remember 56k modems, right? According to Speakeasy.net, my wireless Cox connection is running at about 10,000kbps, so just a bit faster. The network determines your speed. Once launched, it is pretty stable. I occasionally lost the signal but it usually reacquired it quickly.

It is not perfect- in one trial I had a huge headache with the COM settings, but I was also trying to run several different Bluetooth applications and I think they were tripping over each other. I was never able to clear it up until I actually wiped my hard drive and restarted. In my other trials, however, things went smoothly. Speaking of trials, the free trial period for this is about 2 weeks and seems fully enabled.

According to the website, PdaNet for the Palm OS can run in the background on some Palms but it does not seem especially stable that way. Overall, this is a small (73k), inexpensive ($34.95) program that is a great addition to the mobile warriors bag of tricks- a nice, cheap way t contact the Internet anywhere you can get bars. In fact, keeping the .zip program handy to use for free in an emergency seems like a good idea.

PdaReach is a separate program that allows you to run your Palm device on a laptop, using your keyboard, mouse, etc. It is a great idea for training, easier access, etc. It runs $24.95 and takes 64k. It only runs on a USB cable, and for some reason I cannot seem to get it to load on the Centro.

PdaReach, Palm screen (the real action happens on your computer)

PdaReach, Palm screen (the real action happens on your computer)

 

Product Information

Price:$34.95 ($24.95 for PdaReach)
Manufacturer:June Fabrics
Pros:
  • Cheaper than a cell modem
  • Small footprint, fairly stable
  • Maximizes the mobile warrior's power
Cons:
  • Caused some problems in one of my trials
  • Installation and set-up help could be clearer
Posted in: Articles

8 comments… add one

  • Evan June 9, 2009, 12:51 pm

    I used PDAnet from the late 1990s (TRGPro) until the mid-2000s (Treo 650, 700) … it always worked great. Now I use a BlackBerry … Thrilled to hear there’s a PDAnet version for this OS!

  • Barry June 9, 2009, 10:09 pm

    I have used PDAnet and think very highly of it. I’ve recommended it to others.

  • Mark June 10, 2009, 5:01 am

    Been using PDANet since 2005 and it has been a lifesaver. When storm-chasing, I can pull down the latest NEXRAD data on GRLevel3 and get the latest SPC updates as they come. When traveling, I can get the info on geocaches in my area and download them to my GPS. Good stuff!

  • mark July 8, 2009, 10:45 pm

    this program is great, IF IT WORKS WHICH ISN’T OFTEN!!! it disconnects all of the time and don’t expect ANY CUSTOMER SUPPORT from the company. if you use hotsync, plan on it not working well once this installed. bottom line is, if you have another option, go for it. if you don’t, plan on a LOT of work to get this to stay working.

  • Mark Adkins July 9, 2009, 9:46 am

    @Mark-
    If I based the review on my first encounter with PDANet, it would have sounded a lot like your experience. If you are running a lot of things that put demands on your COM ports, things get messy.

    When I tried everything again on a clean install, and went more carefully with everything using the COM ports, things went well, and kept going nicely.

    I blame Palm more than I do June Fabrics for this- they have struggled with the entire on-line experience since the beginning.

  • Peter February 5, 2010, 2:50 pm

    Any chance that PDA Reach will be available for the Palm Pre – I really miss this application?

  • Mark Adkins February 5, 2010, 6:58 pm

    @Peter-

    I dunno. You can write them and ask. Sorry!

  • J E October 13, 2011, 3:04 pm

    I need a version of PDANet that will run on an HP Touch Pad. In that way, I can use a Treo 755P Bluetooth hook to tether to the HP Tab and leverage my Sprint web access. This would make WebOS on the HP Tab a rocking box.

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