Do you frequently need access to email from places away from home or work? In hotel rooms worldwide, you can generally find telephone data ports for connecting a laptop, enabling you to dial into an ISP. But what about when you need to check email messages or browse the Internet from an airport or customer site, where it's usually difficult or impossible to find a landline connection? A wireless WAN connection in these situations makes access much easier, especially when used with a small handheld computing device such as a PalmPilot.
If you're already a Palm V user, you don't have to abandon your thin, sleek device for a bulkier Palm VII, which has a built-in CDPD (cellular digital packet data) modem. Simply attach an Omnisky Minstrel CDPD modem when you feel the need to go wireless. Omnisky offers unlimited wireless WAN access for a monthly fee when you purchase a Minstrel CDPD modem. Omnisky is the only wireless WAN provider for the Palm V we've found, and, unfortunately, the Minstrel modem is exclusively for the Palm V model.
With Omnisky, you get the following features:
I find it hard to live without my Palm V, and I've been testing a Minstrel CDPD modem for several months. I use the modem mostly from my hometown of Dayton, Ohio; however, I travel from time to time and have used it in other cities, such as Dallas and Chicago, as well. So far, it's been useful and reasonably fast for checking email from a car or airport and accessing the latest news or stock market quotes through an Avantgo.com Web channel.
The basic concept of CDPD is to use the existing analog cellular telephone system to send digital data at 19.2 Kbps when voice calls are not being made.
The biggest problem I've found using CDPD wireless service is limited coverage. Even though CDPD uses the widespread analog cellular telephone infrastructure, CDPD doesn't have the same coverage as analog cellular phones. Most areas don't provide CDPD service in all cell towers.
You can be fairly certain that signal strength will be high enough to make a connection if you're in the heart of most large cities, unless you're buried within a large building. But don't be disappointed if you have trouble making connections even a few miles away from downtown areas.
If you're not too sure about going wireless, then tune in next time when we check out traditional wired modems for PalmPilot users.