If you happen to be using a Pocket PC that doesn’t have built-in WiFi, there
is no need to settle for a bulky card which sticks awkwardly from the SD slot.
Instead, take a look at the pocketGEAR
Wireless LAN Card, touted as being the "World’s Smallest WiFi Card".
Included in the package is the 1.5″ tall card, the setup CD and a case for
The pocketGEAR card supports 802.11b WiFi communications up to 11Mbps, and
according to the manual will work from an average distance of up to 400 meters
(437 yards) outside, or up to 100 meters (109 yards) inside. The card draws all
power directly from the device in which it is inserted, and it use an operating
voltage of PA: 3.0 to 3.6V, TRX: 2.7V. Average Operation is 185mA while viewing
the web, 60mA in receive mode and 116mA for 15dbM Pout in transmit mode. The
card supports DCF/PCF and uses a fully integrated 2.4 GHz band direct conversion
Setup involves running the CD on the desktop to install the PocketGear SDIO
WLAN Card program to the Pocket PC. The card supports Pocket PC 2003 and Linux
devices which have SDIO enabled slots.
After the utility program has been installed to the device, the card just
needs to be inserted in an available SDIO slot. Once in place, the card
protrudes just 0.25" from the PDA, and a New Network bubble immediately pops up
on the screen. Hitting connect enables WiFi, and just like that – the PDA is
For this review I am using the iPAQ 1945, a smaller PDA that ordinarily only
has Bluetooth and Infrared wireless capabilities…but is now fully WiFi
Clicking on the dual arrows icon displays the WiFi strength in bars, but the
built-in utility has a better way to gauge actual strength. I’ll talk about that
in a moment.
As an added convenience, a WiFi Signal monitor is placed in the Today
screen’s system tray, which shows the signal’s strength…
…clicking on the icon will allow the user to turn the radio On or Off.
A small green LED flickers on the back side of the card, showing that the
card is working.
Hey, there is our homepage – wirelessly brought up on this PDA for the first
This shot shows the WLAN program which has been installed onto the Pocket PC.
Clicking it reveals the Status screen of the WLAN Utility.
This Status screen shows all of the information having to do with the card at
any given moment. It should be evident that when this photo was taken, it was on
my desk, not far from the wireless router.
The WiFi card has a more than adequate reach, although saying that it’s range
is 109 yards indoors is a bit misleading. My entire house is about 77 feet long,
and granted there are walls and doors separating various rooms, but with my
router placed roughly in the middle of the house where the office is, my 100%
signal drops to 5% at the front door and 7% at the back. However, the signal is
still quite usable and certainly better than other cards I have attempted to use
in the past.
Here are shots of the other screens accessible through the WLAN Utility,
…and the About tab.
Because the pocketGEAR WiFi card is so short, I don’t have the same worries
of knocking it out or breaking it somehow, that I would have had with a more
protruding card. The only other feature that I would like to have seen for this
product would be at least 128MB of memory built-in somehow…but I am sure that
adding memory would mean adding length to the card. As long as the user does not
need to access programs or files that might otherwise have been stored on an
external memory card, It would be quite possible to leave the card installed all
of the time.
The WiFi card is a great way to extend the usability of an aging PDA. For
instance, even though this iPAQ is older, it still works very well and I foresee
it lasting for many more years. With the addition of a WiFi card, this "old dog"
has been taught a "new trick".
149.95 AUD, or approximately $113.00 USD, although their online retailers
seem to be discounting the price quite a bit from MSRP.