Palm-size CEs to go wireless
June 25, 1999
June 25, 1999
by Tom Spring
(IDG) -- Bought a Windows CE palmtop, but envious of the new 3Com Palm VII with its slick wireless communications? Fear not. This fall, you too will be able to get wireless access to the Internet, thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and Socket Communications.
Wireless communications kits from Socket and Microsoft will be available through yet-to-be-named cellular phone companies who will likely bundle the Internet access service. You’ll need a data-capable digital cellular phone and a CompactFlash card, both connected by a one-foot cord.
The new wireless service will allow you to send and receive e-mail with attachments, browse the Internet, and synchronize your palmtop PIM with your desktop PIM on the fly.
Wireless, or just one wire?
The hardware and software that marry a palm-size device with a cell phone is expected to cost roughly $100. You will still have to pay additional fees to a wireless Internet access provider, and availability will depend on the region of the country you live in.
Bell Atlantic, for example, charges a flat rate of $40 a month for unlimited wireless Internet access service. However, roaming charges can be as high as 6 cents per kilobit. According to experts, 47 out of 50 major metropolitan areas in the United States support wireless data transmission over existing cellular networks.
Microsoft will provide the software portion of the service, which includes a Web browser, a setup wizard with a communications utility, and ActiveSync 3.0, a program for synchronizing data with desktop PCs. Also included is a subscription to offline content from AvantGo.com, a Web site that optimizes content for palm-size PCs.
The Socket Digital Phone Card that snaps into GMS-enabled cell phones and also the palmtop CE devices is made by Socket Communications.
Microsoft and Socket say the wireless hardware/software bundle is capable of speeds as fast as 14 kilobits per second, depending on the network.
Waiting for the wireless world
It's easy to find digital cellular phones that support data transmission, as many were equipped with the technology years ago in anticipation of wireless services. The big three cell phone manufacturers--Motorola, Ericsson, and Nokia--have been shipping GMS phones for some time.
Wireless modem cards are growing in popularity among users of laptops and handheld computers. However, until now, options for Windows-based CE devices have been slim.
3Com's Net-enabled Palm VII already is shipping, at a cost of around $600. But Microsoft says its wireless add-on will cost existing palmtop CE users considerably less.
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