SanDisk has been a pinnacle company in the mobile memory market for
years. They are often the first to release larger capacity memory
cards, lower prices, and currently produce all major types of mobile memory as well as
new types they hope will catch on (like mini-SD). Unlike many companies that
do not expand outside their nitch market, SanDisk realized that their
company has the potential to combine technologies to make powerful
expansion products for PDA's. SanDisk's Connect Low Power SD
WiFi Card is not only SanDisk's first attempt at SD based WiFi but also
the worlds first SDIO WiFi card. The SD WiFi card is the smallest
WiFi card on the market and allows a large array of previously unconnected PDA's to
connect to wireless 802.11b networks.
The first thing you notice about this card is the size. It is
little. Not only is it thin, but it is light and the antenna is
much smaller that any other WiFi card. Because the card is
wireless, the antenna needs to extend outside of the PDA (or phone). For
such a small card, it would be nice if it could be inside, though this
likely would decrease the signal strength. The card already has a lower output power that some of its
competitors so a protruding antenna is needed for a good signal.
illustrate some of the differences in the specification of this card,
the table below compares it with a standard SanDisk SD memory card,
the Ambicom CF WiFi card, and the Belkin PCMCIA WiFi Card (Version 1).
||SanDisk SD WiFi
||SanDisk SD Memory
||Ambicom CF WiFi
||Belkin PC Card WiFi
||2.1" x 0.9"
||1.3" x 0.9"
||2.9" x 1.7"
||4.5" x 2.2"
* Higher is
better; ** Lower is better; SanDisk SD WiFi card power
specifications are the SyChip's WLAN6060SD specifications (cards
are the same).
The SanDisk WiFi card
actually has a lower power rating than all the other WiFi cards I use. I looked into the maximum power consumption for some other
CF WiFi cards and they all seem to be comparable to the SanDisk SD
WiFi card. The lower power consumption is great news as often
new products tend to use more power than they should. Its sleep
state power consumption is also below most other cards. As you can see from the
chart, there is no comparison between a memory card and an expansion
card for power usage, so use of the SD WiFi card instead of a SD
memory will decrease battery life. A draw back to the SanDisk SD
WiFi card is its slightly lower output power. The lower power is
likely due to the lower power consumption and the smaller antenna.
The 2 dBm power difference was not noticeable to me when range
testing the SanDisk card against the Ambicom.
for the SanDisk SD WiFi card does not come natively with Palm or Pocket
PC, so a simple installation is required. Both Pocket PC 2002
and Windows Mobile 2003 are supported. SanDisk originally
planned to support the Palm OS, but at this time no drivers have been
finalized. For my
testing, I used the card with an HP iPAQ H1940 running Pocket PC 2003.
I did not prefer SanDisk's screen to navigate to the correct
installation pack and found it easier on a later installation to
just find the correct setup file. SanDisk does include large multilanguage users guides, complete with a number of helpful screen
shots. After the installation synchronizes to the device, a
simple soft reset is need. Then plug in the card and connect to
software is great for getting connected. Like I have found with
most WiFi connection programs, it takes a couple minutes to figure out
where the settings you need are, but once you find them you are ready
to go. For me, no real configuration was needed. My open
access point was quickly found by the device. Pocket PC 2003 is
great about notification of the connection, but a standard light is
included on the card so it is easy to see when you are connected or
not. One cool thing is that you can actually select specific networks
to connect to, so if you live near other houses with open WiFi points,
you can easily have your PDA stay on the network you want. As I
stated earlier, range was not a problem. I thought the smaller
size may lead to some connectivity issues, but that was not the case.
The PDA community
has to be extremely excited for this card to hit the market. I
know I have been, and now am even more thrilled to actually have one
to use especially because is works as promised. The performance of this card rivals other PDA WiFi
cards. Just because it is SD, it does not lack any features nor
performance. The biggest worry with this card is of course easy
damage because its size, but a good case solves the problem. The
SanDisk SD WiFi card adds network connectivity to many current and
future devices (including Smartphone). Though the card is expensive (initial retail
price of $130), it is a solid and extremely useful product.
Dave's Score - 9.0
This means, this product is a very good product,
though has some features which could be improved. This product embodies
quality in its design and application, and is something I would use. Weigh
the pros and cons before purchasing, but in my opinion this card is a
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge