palmOne Cooks Up Wi-Fi SD Card

By James Alan Miller

August 17, 2004

palmOne unveiled its first solution for adding 802.11b, a new card compatible only with the Zire 72 and Tungsten T3 PDAs.

With the exception of the Tungsten C, all palmOne handhelds lack an important ingredient: Wi-Fi. Without 802.11b wireless networking, these devices can't use public hotspots or private access points to retrieve e-mail and surf the Web, limiting their appeal for many.

That situation is about to change. Though it has been slow in coming, palmOne today introduced its first solution, a Secure Digital (SD) card to bring Wi-Fi to two of its PDAs: the Bluetooth-enabled Tungsten T3 and Zire 72. (Bluetooth is a short-range, low-throughput "personal area network" wireless technology).

With palmOne's new Wi-Fi SD card, Zire 72 and Tungsten T3 owners can now link to any public or private wireless network from a range of 100-300 feet to an access point.

palmOne's General Manger of Accessories, Jim Schwabe, said, "With the expansion of hotspots and Wi-Fi networks in homes and in businesses, we felt it was important to offer our mobile handheld users another compelling Wi-Fi solution."

Unfortunately for owners of earlier Palm models, they won't be able to use the company's new Wi-Fi SD card, as palmOne won't make drivers available for the Tungsten E, Tungsten T, Tungsten T2, or the Treo 600 smartphone. It is likely the power drain from the Wi-Fi SD card is too large for these devices to handle.

On a side note, a couple of months back, SanDisk announced it would start selling a Wi-Fi SD card for palmOne's Zire 71, the precursor to the Zire 72. At the time of the announcement, SandDisk said the SD card required a software patch to be compatible with the Tungsten T3 and Zire 72, but it couldn't offer the patch itself -- the patch had to come from palmOne. The handheld company, however, didn't seem to be any hurry to create one. Now we know why.

palmOne's SD Wi-Fi card should be available on September 3rd for $129.

Reprinted from Palm Boulevard.



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