PDA modules

Using a wireless network has obvious benefits: you can browse the Web and send e-mail without worrying about cables. Now PDA users can enjoy such advantages, thanks to new adapters for Palm, Handspring and Pocket PC PDAs that use the 802.11b wireless Ethernet protocol.

I tested shipping versions of the Xircom Wireless LAN Module for the Palm M500 and the Xircom SpringPort Wireless Ethernet Module for Handspring Visor PDAs, both $600, as well as a pre-production unit of Symbol Technologies' $US179 Wireless Networker on a Compaq iPaq with the optional CompactFlash sleeve.

The two Xircom devices are bulky: the SpringPort adds a large hump to the "Visor, and the Wireless LAN Module is of the same size and weight as the Palm M500 itself. By comparison, Symbol's Wireless Networker adapter is only slightly bigger than a CompactFlash memory card.

Testing in a typical office environment, I found that the devices could connect up to about 27m from the access point - the same range of other 802.11b devices - and worked well on various access points (which provide a bridge between the wireless network and the wired one).

In addition to managing e-mail and Web browsing, you can use the connection to sync your PDA with a computer on the local network, but you can't sync over the Internet.

The Xircom devices include built-in batteries and recharge at the same time as the PDA does, through the cradle. In my tests, both lasted two to three hours with moderate use. The Symbol Wireless Network draws its charge from the battery of the PDA, bumping down the battery life of the iPaq from its usual four to six hours to a much skimpier three hours or so.

Adapters that use the 802.11b standard can send and receive data at up to 11Mbps. Handhelds lack the processing power to match that speed, so everything is much slower than on a PC. Nor are the devices cheap: the Xircom units cost about as much as the PDAs they attach to.

Symbol Technologies Wireless Networker

This light and easy-to-use adapter adds wireless networking to a Pocket PC, but for most users "this addition won't overcome the price.

Price: TBA [Approx.$US179]; Phone: (03) 9862 7000; URL: www.symbol.com/australiaXircom SpringPort Wireless Ethernet ModuleAllows Handspring Visor users to sync their PDAs and use the Internet without cables, but it's of limited use to most people.

Price: $600 [$US299]; Phone: (02) 9937 5800; URL: www.xircom.comXircom Wireless LAN ModuleIf you need it, this module brings the advantages of wireless networking to the Palm M500, but it adds substantial bulk and comes with a steep"price tag.

Price: $600 [$US299]; Phone: (02) 9937 5800; URL: www.xircom.com

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Richard Baguley

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?