The Sony Ericsson GC79 PC Card gives mobile notebook users the best of both worlds — fast Internet access when in a Wi-Fi hotspot and not-quite-so-fast Web access when elsewhere. The GC79 also supports a new authentication standard, EAP-SIM, that (in theory) will allow you to use the facilities of a ‘pay-for’ Wi-Fi hotspot and have the charges incurred added to your phone bill.
Installation was very smooth. The GC79 software installs a raft of virtual network drivers and, before we knew it, our notebook was connected to the network and we were off surfing. The supplied front-end GC79 Manager makes it easy to configure the GPRS and Wi-Fi settings. It also lets you send or receive SMS messages.
The GC79 worked perfectly on GPRS. It also worked well on Wi-Fi — very well, in fact. Although billed as an 802.11b 11Mbps device, it had no qualms connecting to any of our 802.11g 54Mbps access points at speeds, in some cases considerably in excess of the promised 11Mbps. Sony Ericsson seems to be selling the GC79 somewhat short.
The GC79 impresses with its slick install and the fact that it worked immediately — like all products should but seldom do. It has a number of exotic features but these can’t be realised until the cellular infrastructure is upgraded. It might carry a large price tag, but at the moment it’s top banana of the wireless combo PC Cards.
Sony Ericsson GC79
Price: $499 (estimate only available at press time)
Vendor: Sony Ericsson
Phone: 1300 650 050