With more and more of us turning to PDAs to give us access to our contacts book and diary when out and about it's only natural that we would start to want Wi-Fi being built in to the units.
Of course you can get wireless enabled PDAs already, but for the most part they are expensive. PalmOne are hoping that by introducing a Wi-Fi card for its Zire 72 and T3 models that those people who bought in at entry-level will be able to super-size their PDA to allow them to access the web and ultimately emails on the move whenever they encounter a wireless network.
In practice the card works very well although you won't be able to run Bluetooth at the same time. The size of a slightly longer than usual SD card, it simply slots into the SD card slot on the top of the two models. We tested it with the Zire 72, and found that the only real problem with this is when the unit is in your pocket. Because of the way that the SD Card slots in, you can find that the card is liable to pop out when it depresses against something for a brief moment. What this means in real terms is that we were forever slotting the card back in when we got it out to use.
Setup was simple. Once we had installed the relevant software via hotsyncing with our Apple PowerBook, we were ready to try out the connectivity of the unit. The Wi-Fi card had no problem finding our office network and no problem connecting to it. A clear signal strength indicator tells you how good the signal strength is, and we were surfing around the PDA edition of pocket-lint within seconds.
For a more conclusive test, we jumped on the train to Waterloo Station in London. Even here the unit had no problem finding the 8 or so Wi-Fi hotspots in the station and as we walked around the promenade the unit picked up different hotspots as we entered their coverage.
Rather annoyingly however, when leaving Waterloo station some of the hotspots stayed on the machine and the card desperately tried to connect to these even though we clearly knew they would be unavailable.
Overall this product is limited to a select few members of the PalmOne fraternity. However for those selected members this unit is very good. Installation was simple, software easy to use and more importantly the experience was user friendly and good. Better still is that if you are running a wireless network on your base computer you can Hotsync over the network rather than having to do it via cradle.
If you're a Zire 72 or Tungsten T3 user this will certainly boost your PDA's productivity, just make sure you check the bottom of the bag for the card every time you get the PDA out.