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Review: Compex iRE201 IR Access Point
By: Davy Fields (davy@davyfields.com)
November 2, 2002

Compex iRE201 IR Access PointThe Compex iRE201 is a box that allows you to plug an internet connection through Ethernet to any Palm with and infrared port. With minimal set-up, cheap price, and a small, sleek design, the IR201 is a great product for an individual or business who'd want to use the internet on their palm.

To begin, before everyone dismisses the idea, some explanation of context is needed. The point of this device is not to stick on your desk and point your Palm towards it, although it does work great for it. The real idea behind this device is the same as the ďWideRayĒ boxes you see in high-tech locales. The IRE201 allows you to easily use the internet functions of your palm, check your e-mail, surf the web, and even synchronize your Palmís clock, all on the fly. With a minimum amount of preference settings, any palm can be configured to use the iRE201. It brings the internet quickly, easily and cheaply to any palm with an infrared port. Setup of the device is easy, and overall, itís a killer device.

Installation: The Compex iRE201 can be purchased for $89.95, from their website (www.cpx.com), or in your local electronics store. Setup is quite easy, pop it out of the box, choose between Ethernet or Modem connection, and plug it all together. It comes with a stand to use it vertically, or you can just set it flat. I prefer it flat, but more on that later. Anyway, setup from the computer is accomplished from a web-based interface, which is quite easy to configure. After that, the device is ready to go. From the palm perspective, all you have to do is go into the network preferences, and create a new profile, name it whatever you want, and choose IR to a PC/Handheld connection. Thatís it! Youíre on the Internet!

Compex iRE201 IR Access Point

Compex iRE201 IR Access PointUsage: Well, the main part of the device is obviously for the connection itself. The device has a nice range, but in the vertical position, there's not much in terms of side angles, the infrared port is parallel to the unit, and doesn't pick up anything on the sides. The port does a conical coverage area, so in order to be able to set the palm down and surf, I use it in the sideways position. This isnít so much of an issue, but it is a little confusing at first. If you use it in the upright position, it can become tiring to hold it pointing at the base station, but itís not much of a problem. Compex generously packs in a second Infrared Receiver for twice the coverage area, so itís not much of a miff. You can plug in the secondary receiver, and Velcro it to a side wall.

In terms of the applications it can use, it's basically anything Internet related. Obviously, you can't place a call through it, but you can run plenty of web browsers, Instant Messaging Programs, myriad utilities, and, of course, check your e-mail. Honestly, the e-mail part is the most attractive part of the package. If youíve got one of these set up, with a pop e-mail account, you can write messages, stroll up, synchronize and be on your way, no wires, no wait. E-mail access is a breeze, and is definitely one of the best features.

In terms of speed, it was more than decent, but it wasn't breathtaking. I suppose this is more of a Palm limitation than the device, but itís a little disappointing to pump a cable modem into the box and then have the Palm be limited to a significantly slower rate. From my old experience with Palm Wireless Modems, it was faster than that, so more likely than not, this will be fine for most people. After all, the main point of this device is the sync-and-go; you're not going to be browsing any online art galleries standing in front of the iRE201.

But, in conclusion, standing around is not the point of this device. It delivers easy, cheap, and fast wireless access to any Palm. If you've ever held your Palm Pilot and wished it could do the internet without all the expensive modems, or bulky cables, this is truly the device for you.

PIC Bottom Line

PROS
CONS
  • Inexpensive
  • Small, sleek design
  • Works with basically all Palm Devices
  • Works with Ethernet and Dial-up
  • Easy Setup
  • Not breathtakingly fast
  • In upright position, using it can be tiresome

RATING: 9.1 / 10
Design: 5 looks nice, sleek design
Features: 5 Provides Internet to any Palm Device
Infrared: 4 Works great within coverage zone
Setup: 5 Web-based setup that can be accessed from any computer.
Value: 4.5 Easy Internet for any Palm for only $89

Product website: www.cpx.com

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Plug?

Coyote67 @ 11/2/2002 3:51:40 PM #
Anyone feel like this is just a plug? :)

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BACK OFF! I'll make you fun size!
RE: Plug?
Admin @ 11/2/2002 4:09:34 PM #
PIC does not do "plugs" There is absolutely no way we would accept any sort of $$$ for coverage. This is a cool product and Davy happens to like it, and this comes through in the review.
RE: Plug?
graph @ 11/2/2002 7:56:53 PM #
its pda related. why is it a plug? it would be a plug if ed starts reviewing a detergent. this is something different thats out for palm. it deserves to be reviewed.

RE: Plug?
Token User @ 11/2/2002 9:05:20 PM #
I took a really close look at this. I am afraid all my drains are round - this just wouldn't work as a plug.

~ "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed." - DV ~
RE: Plug?
a @ 11/2/2002 9:45:45 PM #
Ed? Ed who ;) only Ryans here....

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I love my Treo 90
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RE: Plug?
Coyote67 @ 11/3/2002 1:01:49 AM #
Actually, I meant it as a joke, but I'm sorry if I affended anyone.


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BACK OFF! I'll make you fun size!

RE: Plug?
Davy Fields @ 11/3/2002 1:22:51 AM #
It's fine, but normally, for the reviewer who's put in a number of hours writing the review and the company who makes the product, having the first comment be "This is a Plug" normally leaves a sour taste in one's mouth. But it's okay, just try not to say it in the future..... it's not a plug, it's just a very nice product.

-Davy Fields
http://nr70.davyfields.com
RE: Plug? Use of terms
mbuhboot @ 11/3/2002 11:53:36 AM #
Hi,

Probably it got something to do with being located outside of the US, not being exposed to many of the daily used terms which allow me to read this thread and smile.. All that the original poster have meant was - is this a real device with some inteligence behind it or simply a plug - at least this is my understanding.

Moshe

RE: Plug?
black penguin @ 11/3/2002 7:02:11 PM #
mbuhdoot,

Nope, "just a plug" referred (jokingly and incorrectly, as noted above) to the review. "plug" is an idiomatic expression for (roughly) an advertisement.

-bp

Cool Idea

masitti @ 11/2/2002 4:24:28 PM #
It seems like it would work better for a wireless sync base than an "access point" - just drop the PDA in front of it, get ready, then go - sync your AvantGo, email, etc. Cool idea to me, just a pretty expensive price - $90. :(



------------------------
Mario Masitti
O/T Mod
I Love Tennis :)

RE: Cool Idea
jacksonaaronc @ 11/2/2002 5:42:47 PM #
I agree. This would be a great wireless sync base. Maybe grab a page off the Internet now and again. More to the point, I also agree that the price is a little high. Of course Mr. Fields thinks it is "inexpensive", but I guess that is relative. Over all I would love to have one...as a gift.

RE: Cool Idea
Davy Fields @ 11/2/2002 6:49:54 PM #
It's inexpensive to the extent of what it does, not in relation to it's actual price. I'm not making a judgement on the value of 90 dollars, I'm saying that the feature set of this is worth the 90 dollars.

-Davy Fields
http://nr70.davyfields.com
RE: Cool Idea
masitti @ 11/2/2002 7:51:36 PM #
Oh yea, I agree. But would you spend $90 on this? If it were... say $50.. maybe even $70 I might go for it, but for a bit more than $90, I would rather go with a more open standard and use Bluetooth.

------------------------
Mario Masitti
O/T Mod
I Love Tennis :)
RE: Cool Idea
thinkpanda @ 11/2/2002 10:48:44 PM #
However, bluetooth access point can easily cost you triple of that price. On the other hand, a bluetooth access point provide access for multiple devices, but IR access point is totally personal.. :-)

RE: Cool Idea
jacksonaaronc @ 11/2/2002 10:48:57 PM #
Upon reading my earlier post again, I realize that it took an almost derisive tone towards Mr. Fields. This was a bad approach. I apologize. I now understand that he was commenting on the features of the product in relation to the price. I still think its a little much, but it would look nice sitting on my desk. Keep up the good reviews!

Serving Christ,

Aaron Jackson
www.clearlycreated.com


RE: Cool Idea
thinkpanda @ 11/2/2002 11:16:19 PM #
RE: Cool Idea
Davy Fields @ 11/3/2002 1:16:27 AM #
It's true, it can be available for less. Quite all right, Aaron, the internet can be a strange place sometimes. I never meant to imply that 90 dollars was cheap, I was just comparing it to all the various features that it contained. No hard feelings.

-Davy Fields
http://nr70.davyfields.com
RE: Cool Idea
blue9 @ 11/4/2002 2:50:25 AM #
>It seems like it would work better for a wireless
>sync base than an "access point"

I kinda disagree with this idea. Since the irda port on most (if not all) pdas uses the SIR standard, hotsyncing can be painfully slow. If someone wanted to do wireless syncing with their pda/desktop, a usb irda adapter would be a whole lot cheaper. This irda wireless ap would be useful for conference rooms though.

What about battery ...

popko @ 11/2/2002 5:22:04 PM #
What about battery life of your Clie with that thingy?

Having the IR port operating at all time in full load can put a lot of load on the battery, I guess.

Love isn't about becoming somebody else's "perfect person." Rather, it's about finding someone who helps you become the best person you can be.

RE: What about battery ...
Davy Fields @ 11/2/2002 5:39:40 PM #
Didn't seem to be much of a drain to me. Again, I really don't think the point of the thing is to sit there and do the internet, but in using it for 45 minutes chunks, I never noticed any change.

-Davy Fields
http://nr70.davyfields.com

Why, I ask?

sralmas @ 11/2/2002 5:38:58 PM #
Honestly, why would I need an Internet connection on my PDA while standing in front of an Internet connected desktop PC/Mac? Why would I browse the web or check email on my PDA if I can do it on the PC? I suppose you could set it up as an access point for others to check email from your i-connected PC, but truly, think about your work and personal environments and count the number of people around you that would use this. How many of you got past 2? I thought so. Perhaps in a few years when sophisticated use and configuration of PDAs for this is more ubiquitous it might be a nice guest convenience to have in a hotel lobby or in the waiting room at your office, but for now its a gizmo without a practical use. Not for $90 anyway. Just my opinion.



Why, I answer!
james_sorenson @ 11/2/2002 7:16:59 PM #
Hmmmmmm...well, let me list a couple uses:

(1) Imagine you have to leave for a trip, or to a meeting, or to the bathroom...whatever. It would be nice to grab your email using your Palm's email program just before you go. Most Palm email programs don't have a PC Sync feature.

(2) I won't need to bring the cradle anymore. I can now do a network sync to any designated PC on the network using this device. Cool.

(3) Travel Groups: WHile traveling, make it dial-up a connection. Everyone pulls out their Palm and takes turns grabbing their email and news from within a hotel room.

(4) Want to travel with your Palm without cranking up a cell-phone bill? How much does a Palm Modem and an ethernet sled cost together? Look at the price of this. Nice!

This thing has good potentional. I wonder if they have a BlueTooth version in the works? I just might add this to my Christmas wish-list.

Jim

-------
James Sorenson

RE: Why, I ask?
thinkpanda @ 11/2/2002 10:51:37 PM #
Imagine you are standing before an Ethernet port, and no PC. This IR Access point may help. hum... does it need external power?

RE: Why, I ask?
masitti @ 11/3/2002 10:40:21 AM #
Yes, it has to have power - look at the first picture, and the lowest black cable. ;)

------------------------
Mario Masitti
O/T Mod
I Love Tennis :)

Why no Bluetooth access point?

oli61 @ 11/2/2002 6:27:09 PM #
IMHO a bluetooth would be more interesting for the new Tungsten owners.

RE: Why no Bluetooth access point?
thinkpanda @ 11/2/2002 11:10:25 PM #
I wonder there are products that can bridge Bluetooth and 802.11b and yet portable. Imagine (just imageine!) a device of Palm III size, which accept Bluetooth connections from TT, and relay the connection using 802.11b. Then I can put the bridge in my back pack and use BT enabled PDA to access intenet at 802.11b hotspot.....

RE: Why no Bluetooth access point?
mashby @ 11/2/2002 11:57:20 PM #
That would be a killer product! A BT access point paired with an 802.11 router. I don't know what kind of battery life you could expect from that device, but I can just picture dropping into a Starbucks with this type of access point and a TT.

Man, that would be schweet.

Michael T. Ashby
Director
InterPUG
http://www.interpug.com

RE: Why no Bluetooth access point?
mcseym @ 11/3/2002 9:10:35 AM #
I agree, this would be great, would it not be too expensive to have a BT, IR plus WiFi Combo? This would have a greater market existing IR and leave room to BT adoption. Reserve one for me.

cheers

matt

RE: Why no Bluetooth access point?
hotpaw4 @ 11/4/2002 3:41:12 AM #
There already is a Bluetooth access point. It was demo'ed at PalmSource earlier this year. Pretty pricey though... maybe half-a-grand, or more. But rumor is that a couple start-up companies are finishing up chipsets so that much cheaper Bluetooth to wifi or ethernet access points can be built. I'm waiting for a pocket-size portable Bluetooth-to-wifi one (with its own battery for the more power hungry 802.11x radio).

Perfect for our School

adb3 @ 11/2/2002 7:29:18 PM #
Our school has recently undertaken a program to equip some students with Palms. This unit would be PERFECT for our class rooms, where we have open ethernet jacks but nothing to plug into them. It would be exelent to turn around and look up Plato or the Bill of Rights in the middle of class. We also have been trying to get some syncs spots up that people can just drop there Palms in and sync with thier e-mail and secdual, but there are a few older IIIc units and a few Clies (me)that won't fit in the m130 bases. Truely a great device!

RE: Perfect for our School
robman @ 11/3/2002 7:19:19 PM #
Sorry to post this here, but I couldn't see another way to contact you:

Can you please contact me regarding your PDA deployment in schools? (robman AT mail.utexas.edu)

Thanks!

Palm Researcher at the University of Texas at Austin
http://www.edb.utexas.edu/petrosino/pda

Beamable Apps?

mashby @ 11/2/2002 9:06:12 PM #
One of the hallmarks of the WideRay devices is the ability to auto beam information to devices when they come into range. Are their any features for this at all, or is it just an Internet access point?

Michael T. Ashby
Director
InterPUG
http://www.interpug.com
RE: Beamable Apps?
Davy Fields @ 11/2/2002 9:18:29 PM #
The Wideray thing was more of a comparison to a similar device..... most Wideray's do the opposite, they don't allow you to use the internet on the device, but it's the same Infrared sync thing..... now, if you could have a program to download a file off the web, or perhaps a network address, you could, but there's nothing specific, sorry to give a false impression.

-Davy Fields
http://nr70.davyfields.com
RE: Beamable Apps?
mashby @ 11/2/2002 11:52:48 PM #
No problem Davy. Just checking to be sure. Nice review and great monitoring of the follow-up discussion.

Michael T. Ashby
Director
InterPUG
http://www.interpug.com

cheap obsolete technology

mint @ 11/3/2002 11:01:53 AM #
well, this would be quite popular, only it came out 2-3 years ago. now, it's kinda of late. though it cheap compare to bluetooth but who would buy it?

this is going to be slow. have you guys EVER sync using IR? it's slow, very slow. would i used it? may be, only if i have no choice.

the speed would be perfect for web surfing. i have had fun surfing with IR and celphone. but it's really anoying since i could not move pda even a bit, its IR would fall out of sight.

if you have 802.11a in your company. it's fast and not that expensive. it's consume quite a bit of power, so forget about surfing, but syncing? you bet.

this is just a very very cheap cheap cheap version of wireless. seriously, it's quite obsolete.

the only place that i could think of is, well, school. the reason.... have i said it's very cheap?

if it's not practical, it's a cult.

RE: cheap obsolete technology
George4 @ 11/3/2002 8:25:11 PM #
Cheap,yes. Obsolete, how??
Okay, irda to a phone line has been around for a while, but most the innovative Psion company realized it's potential. Some smart Plam folks picked one up too.
Until computer's with your specific palms cradle become as common as phone jacks, this will be an extremely simple, obvious way to get your online business done on your palm from anywhere.
The only wish I would add would be for a unit small enough to pack with me so that ANY jack could be used and not just where I park this thing, like at my desk.
Also
DAVY?:
how good is the range on this thing? i'm thinking specifically about my Clie with enhanced irda.

thx. George4

RE: cheap obsolete technology
Davy Fields @ 11/3/2002 8:41:12 PM #
It's limited more by the box than the device, but I've gone about five feet without a significant loss of signal... but it's not wireless, you do need a clear line of sight, so it's not a particularly large range.

-Davy Fields
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Palm_OS_5/

specs

ganoe @ 11/3/2002 11:35:33 AM #
Well, this device does FIR which means it is capabable of 4Mbps speeds, but the Palm is SIR and at best 115Kbps. So the Palm is the bottleneck for speed. I think most laptops these days do FIR (you may have to set it in the BIOS), so you could see decent speeds there.

Look like this does both (I'm assuming PPP over) IrCOMM and IrLAN for accessing the network. I have an old HP NetBeam IR that did IrLAN, but only a few OS's (Win 95/98 and Linux) support it. IrCOMM basically acts like a serial port, and I assume you configure the Palm to set up a PPP connection with it.

If you have a PC nearby and don't need something that hooks right into Ethernet, you can pick up a USB or serial IR dongle much more cheaply and do the same thing. Might be good for hospitals or other offices where people have older Palms and want to sync up on the go.

Can't this be achieved with an IR equipped computer.

mbuhboot @ 11/3/2002 11:57:30 AM #
Hi,

I read the review and liked the functionality. I personally think this can be achieved for free by correctly setting you Win2K/XP box to serve as a dial-in server over IR. The problem is - I never got to set it up to work correctly.. I read many how-to articles that "almost" dealt with this issue (and pointed me to links that did not work) - but could not get the damn machine to work..

Anyone who succeeded?

RE: Can't this be achieved with an IR equipped computer.
kempokaraterulz @ 11/3/2002 8:32:35 PM #
okay you need some software called mocha w32 ppp
and if you are using an nt based system (2k/xp) then you need these ir drivers available at www.ircomm2k.de

Post in the forums if you want more details

_______________________________________
Webmaster of:
http://www.kempokaraterulz.ip2dns.org/forum/

If my server hasnt melted then that site will be up [;)]

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