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palmOne WiFi

The winner of my previous wireless PDA races was palmOne's Tungsten C, which was the only PalmOS-based 802.11b device that I could get my hands on. Since then, neither palmOne nor anyone else has come out with the Tungsten C's successor, but two SD WiFi cards finally hit retailers' shelves.

palmOne's WiFi card uses essentially the same SyChip SD card (Figure 6)as SanDisk's product, but different drivers and perhaps firmware.

Internal view of the palmOne WiFi

Figure 6: Internal view of the palmOne WiFi
(click on the image for a larger view)

Since I couldn't use IxChariot, I fell back on the combination of 3CDaemon Version 2.0 Revision 10 FTP server and Laurent Thaler's free LFtp client to perform the tests. I transferred a set of files of varying sizes both up and down at least three times and averaged the results to obtain the throughput values shown in Table 2.

Product FTP Download (Mbps) FTP Upload (Mbps)
palmOne Tungsten T3
1.4
1.0
palmOne Zire 72 w/ palmOne SD WiFi card
1.1
1.0
palmOne Zire 71 / SanDisk SD WiFi card
-
0.3
Table 2: palmOne WiFi card wireless throughput

My testing showed that there might be something to SanDisk's complaints about palmOne not allowing them access to some performance-enhancing driver tweaks, because the palmOne card turned in significantly better results than SanDisk's Zire 71-compatible product. Note, however that the Zire 71 uses a Texas Instruments OMAP310 clocked at 144 MHz, while the Zire 72 uses an Intel PXA270 running at 312 MHz, which could also contribute to the speed difference. (Unfortunately, I didn't perform dowload tests for the Zire 71, so have only the upload results for you to compare.)

The results also show that the extra poop supplied by the T3's "400MHz Intel Xscale processor" (and perhaps its 64MB of memory) helped it beat out the Zire 72 (with 312MHz Intel PXA270 processor and 32MB memory) on the download tests. The upload tests, however, came out both slower than the download - which I've seen with other products - and equal, which is a bit more curious. At any rate, the results are better than almost all of the PocketPC-based PDAs that I've tested with the SanDisk SD WiFi card solution.

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