Novatel Ships Minstrel m500 Wireless Modem (Updated)

Novatel Wireless has begun shipping the Minstrel m500 CDPD Wireless Handheld Modem. It uses CDPD networks and is capable of transmitting data at up to 19.2 kbps. It has a suggested price of $370.

Update: According to a company spokesperson, OmniSky should begin officially supporting this modem sometime in August. She said, "We have primarily been waiting for the availability of modems from Novatel. While they have announced availability, I'm not sure what volume we require to launch and when they'll be able to meet that volume."

It is 5.0" by 3.2" by .4" and weighs 3.0 ounces. The antenna adds 1.2" when extended.

The Minstrel m500 is equipped with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that offers a pass through, quick-charging feature. Users can charge both the Palm m500/m505 at the same time as the modem using only the Minstrel m500's AC adapter. It doesn't block access to the m500 series' SD/MMC slot.

"We congratulate Novatel Wireless on the release of this exciting new Minstrel wireless modem," said Paul Leeper, director, market development, at Palm, Inc. "With the combined power of the Palm m500 series handhelds and the Minstrel modem, customers will have remote access via their ISP account to their corporate e-mail, Palm web clipping applications and rich content. We are extremely happy about the role Novatel Wireless has played in supporting the new Palm m500 series handhelds."

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RE: this looks cool
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 4:12:21 PM #
AT&T still has the cheapest rates. I get unlimited service on my Minstrel III for $24.95/mo.

RE: this looks cool
mikecane @ 7/26/2001 5:02:38 PM #
What do you get for that price? It isn't OmniSky via AT&T, is it? A connection to AT&T World Service (their internet service) via the wireless modem?

RE: this looks cool
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 5:33:23 PM #
Its a full tcp/ip connection. I use avantgo as a web browser, multimail, Top Gun SSH, lFTP etc.
I can even use PQA's with the Palm VII libs I found here:

RE: this looks cool
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 5:37:34 PM #
I was wrong. Its 29.99. Unlimited data.

Just buy the modem direct from Novatel and call AT&T. Give them the serial number of the modem
and they activate it.

RE: this looks cool
Snubolis @ 7/26/2001 7:45:12 PM #
29.99USD sounds more in line with Canada's prices. Telus Mobility offers the V series modem for 399$cdn and 50$/mo for unlimited, but with a 2year contract.

I find that's awfully pricey for what amounts 19.2kbps. I'm sure they're gonna do the same thing with the m50x series modem. Nowadays, it seems cheaper to buy the adapter to your cell phone and pay the cell company 5$ or 10$/mo (cdn prices of course) for their i-web/surf packages, giving you unlimited internet. A much cheaper option, but without the sleekness and convenience of one device.

Vancouver, Canada

RE: this looks cool
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/29/2001 11:27:30 AM #
Differences between Omnisky service and ATT Pocketnet.

Ok, with OmniSky are you limited only to ATT's CPCD network or are you allowed to roam (no cost) on verizon's CPCD network?

With ATT pocketnet service, you pay 29.99 a month for unlimited service, and .05 for each K in roaming (verizon).

Omnisky requires(?) you to load their software onto your palm.

With ATT you load just the apps you want(?)


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 1:48:22 PM #
thats almost 900 bucks for a wireless pda.
what's up with that? the m70x series will
come in much lower. color? i'd buy another
one for all pda and save a few hun.

RE: 370+tax+m505
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 8:00:53 PM #
u won't see a color, wireless integrated device until battery technologies take the next step. with current batteries (even LiIon Polymer) a device such as this would be a) a brick, or b) a device with 2 hours battery life.

RE: 370+tax+m505
kerrry @ 7/26/2001 8:02:14 PM #
The only problem is, if i remember correctly, the Palm VII (and i'm assuming this mysterious m700) require service to function, which costs something around $50 a month for unlimited, and limits the handheld to pqa functions, not web browsing and other toys like telnet, as the novatell wireless modems do. when you get a VII with service you end up paying back your savings to pay for service, and end up trading off broader service for a less expensive handheld. something not everyone is willing to do.
on a different note, does anybody know if this modem will have always-on capabilities, like this rumored palm m700 may? this kind of modem, always on, attached to an m505 would be perfection. heck, i'd throw away my 2-way pager (maybe not, but it's a neat idea).

RE: 370+tax+m505
madhatter @ 7/27/2001 9:48:42 AM #
Just one slight correction Kerrry.. The Palm VII will web browse by using either as a proxy or DPWeb. It will not do well with graphics, but does fine even with secure web sites. It does not do sites that require encryption. As far as the price plan, I used the 9.95 low end budget plan for a long time and only went over a few times. The plan gave me 50,000 bytes of data. This may not seem like a lot, but with each e-mail I checked running an average of 300-500 bytes, I could usually get 100 to 150 emails. If you surf the web a lot, you can use it in a hurry, but for casual use, it works great.

A Palm in hand is worth two in your pocket.

We need keyboard passthrough, dammit!

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 1:55:23 PM #
Where's the keyboard passthrough?

If only this thing had a keyboard pass-through, it
could be an m700 killer. C'mon guys, this isn't that

RE: We need keyboard passthrough, dammit!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 8:50:34 PM #
How do you know it's not that hard?

RE: We need keyboard passthrough, dammit!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 9:59:34 PM #
No, he's right. It's not hard. It's *impossible*. The keyboard is a serial port peripheral, the wireless modem is a serial port peripheral, the Palm USB connector is a slave connector. Since the Palm serial port can't multiplex, it's a no-go.

RE: We need keyboard passthrough, dammit!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/27/2001 12:14:18 AM #
There's only one I/O port of any kind. The only way to use a keyboard
be connected to a network is to have a Handspring device with a visorphone/minstrel S/modem
or get a Handera 330 or TRGpro with a Compact Flash modem. In Palm's defense, their devices
were never designed with that purpose in mind. Besides, telnet or ssh on a palm really does suck.
If you want a small terminal get an old HP 320 or 200lx. Just my $.02.

RE: We need keyboard passthrough, dammit!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/28/2001 10:40:03 PM #
go to this web page and then you will see that it is not impossible. It will also explain step by step on how to build it yourself etremly cool. It's called the GoType Max.


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 2:59:34 PM #
Will this enable users to use the AOL software bundled with the M50X to access their AOL & Avant Go without incurring the cost of a 3rd partty ISP like Omnisky?
EGarrido @ 7/26/2001 3:05:48 PM #
No, unless AOL is sporting a new wireless program that I'm unfamiliar with, you'll have to sign up with a wireless ISP and then access your AOL and Avantgo acounts through that ISP.

Eric Garrido


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 3:52:05 PM #
Pretty cool if you are within the 5% of the country that is covered. Pretty useless if you live in Atlanta, Kansas City, anywhere in North or South Dakota...

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 4:56:15 PM #
Yeah, I agree. Throw Milwaukee, WI in there as well. Even though OmniSky claims "Nationwide Coverage." They must not think that includes everywhere in between.

$5 a month fee on your Sprint PCS phone plus a $20-$60 cable (roughly) and you are there. Although not as suave as the sled, the cable method sure saves a heck of a lot of money. $370 & $30 min monthly fee vs $60 & $5 monthly fee with Sprint PCS for example. Hrrmmmmm. Cost of ownership for first year $730 vs $120. Just some quick numbers.

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 5:05:31 PM #
Check for a usage map. There is a lot more coverage than that.

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 5:17:37 PM #
Oh yeah? More coverage that what? Name one place in, say, Iowa that this works. Montana? Kansas?

That "orange county service is now available" message on their (lack of) coverage page has been there for, what? 6 months?

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 5:39:51 PM #
> Cost of ownership for first year $730 vs $120.

...after you pay your cell phone bill. If you don't have a cell phone, don't you have to add $400-$500 to this? Not trying to start an arguement, just trying to give the full picture.

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 6:42:20 PM #
What about coverage to the rest of the world. Think of us people in Africa too puleez.

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 8:33:33 PM #
No... Africa is not A) A Nation, and B) In the US... Bush may think its a nation... but wow.... don't let me start in on him

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 8:42:24 PM #
Africa is not in the US? Who cares, the majority of the world is not in the US. Despite what most American people think.

One day there will be world wireless coverage. Hopefully not too far away.

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 10:15:25 PM #
Try the Carpediem V by Real Vision. It is a palm modem using the GSM 900 and 1800 frequencies. I presume these frequencies are available in some African countries as they are available in most of the World (Europe, Asia and Australasia). The Carpediem doesn't offer the Plam.Net service but you are still able to access the internet, web clipping, email, icq....

RE: coverage-Kansas?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/27/2001 1:08:19 AM #

What the Hell would anyone be doing there anyway? If one of the locals saw you with this badass combo, they'd probably get their shot gun & hold you in the barn 'till Sherrif Woody comes!


RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/27/2001 2:37:02 AM #
That only happens in the back woods in the US! People are civilised in other countries.

RE: coverage
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/27/2001 9:44:48 AM #
Well despite being from the US midwest, I am still civilized enough to know that "civilised" is an alternate and acceptable spelling but that there is only one way to spell Sheriff.

Kinda getting off the point here. That being that for most of us, these wireless technologies are not now and are not going to be available. Sort of like that Blue tooth crap. Really looking forward to that! That well let me connect my 505 to...lets see... absolutely nothing.


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/26/2001 9:18:02 PM #
I Called Novatel and in my area I would have to go with AT&T@ 29.90 per month with a 45.00 set up fee!OUCH! But thats alot cheapea than .15per min -cingular charges for Data service .via IR port.I like using my cell with IR I wish the cell phone would come up with a choice of applying my minutes to data calls....oh well only to dream.////
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/27/2001 8:54:38 AM #
We're still in the infant stage of wireless. Remember when $20 bucks only got you 100 minutes of air time with no frills?

Now you get 300 minutes, CallerID, voicemail, call waiting etc...

Just takes time.

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/31/2001 10:37:12 AM #
Call Sprint they have exactly what you want! Minutes can be either talk or web. Thats the way to go forget AT&T. Lousy company to work with..

Verizon IP Services

EGarrido @ 7/27/2001 12:01:30 AM #
I just found out that Verizon also rolled out its Mobile IP plan for PDAs. It's only US$24.95, but coverage isn't that great. It says that you can still use the service in any area where CDPD is offered, but if that happens to be in another carrier's market, an added price of $0.08 per kilobyte of information is tacked on to your bill.

Eric Garrido

RE: Verizon IP Services
mikecane @ 7/27/2001 9:37:33 AM #
This is why I've never been much interested in wireless -- I hear of idiotic pricing plans like that: 8-cents/K of data! This is even worse than going back to the horrible days of CompuServe and The Source and Delphi when you paid a per-hour connect-time charge. Bugger that!

RE: Verizon IP Services
EGarrido @ 7/27/2001 5:11:15 PM #
But if you're stranded on Manhattan and don't ever leave, this isn't too bad of a deal. For the rest of us: let's keep hoping. Maybe one day.

Eric Garrido
RE: Verizon IP Services
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/27/2001 11:49:41 PM #
I like the "extensive data footprint" comment on their web site. Their coverage is even worse than Omnisky. Once you leave St Louis, it is a 3 day drive to the next covered area. Four or five states away.

Maybe these idiots don't realize that the point of the wireless modem is to be able to travel around, not just stand in the backyard and show your neighbor how cool it is to check your email (course, if you live west of the New Jersey you can't even do that).

Price is ridiculous

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/27/2001 9:31:04 AM #
That price is outragous.

RE: Price is ridiculous
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/27/2001 9:47:04 AM #
No one is actually going to pay that for it. Or very few people, anyway. That's why the OmniSky announcement is so important. Once they officially announce support for this they will put it on sale at a way reduced price, like maybe $99, when you sign up for a year's membership.

m500 modem

David T. @ 7/27/2001 3:11:27 PM #
First, the picture in the article was great! I have an m500 & the appearance of accessories is wonderful. Do you know when we will see a GPS unit & a hard case?

VisorPhone Anyone?

pjflynn @ 7/27/2001 4:23:29 PM #
Well, after reading this bantering, I feel great about my recent decision to buy the Visor Edge and Visor Phone. For $50 you can have the VisorPhone that will let you do what the Minstrel can... using the voice minutes of your calling plan. I just connect to my $10 ISP account and I am good to go! I thought I would have to pay extra for the DataStream service, but it ends up it is not necessary.

Using SMS, you get full 2-way messaging, with the ability to send using grafitti (big plus!).

Here is the really good part... you also have a phone with this setup! It is fully integrated with your address book! Oh, and since VoiceStream is GSM, it is a world phone!

Install the Palm VIIx libs (see previous post) and you can also use pqa clipping programs!

Using the HS Blazer browser, I get 7K to 19K connect speed... good enough for what I am using it for. (Most of us have a PC at work and at home... so how critical is surfing the web with a PDA anyway???)

I feel I've covered everything here... I am currently go-live with something you all want, but have to wait to pay more for! Sucks to be you...

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