Xircom to Release Wi-Fi Module for m500

Today at the TECHXNY conference, Intel announced an 802.11b module for the Palm m500 series. The Xircom Wireless LAN Module snaps onto the back of the handheld and uses plug-and-play software for quick installation. Providing Palm m500 series users with high-speed, wireless access to the Internet, e-mail or data stored on the network, the new module can also establish wireless peer-to-peer connections with other WLAN devices. It will be available in July for $300.

"Intel and Palm are bringing mobility to a new level for Palm m500 customers," said Barry Cottle, chief Internet officer at Palm, Inc. "The Xircom Wireless LAN Module will greatly expand the functionality of the Palm m500 series by offering users the flexibility to move freely throughout an office or corporate campus with real-time information access."

The new Palm module is based on Cisco Systems WLAN technology and joins Intel's existing line of WLAN products for handheld devices, including products for the HandSpring Visor.

About 802.11b
802.11b Wireless LAN, also known as Wireless Ethernet, is a radio frequency (RF) network access technology. It allows users to access information wirelessly throughout a home, business or campus location. The technology is most often used to expand the coverage of a wired LAN, but, it can also be used to replace wired networks. The technology can require the installation of access points (radio transceivers) to provide wireless coverage across a local area. Wireless LAN can also exist in a Peer-to-Peer setting, between devices that have WLAN access modules. The 802.11b standard ensures interoperability among WLAN networks by implementing regulations for WLAN product manufacturers. Businesses, schools, and other institutions often find it beneficial to standardize equipment so that they can combine hardware from different vendors. Home users who purchase 802.11b compliant products are assured that they will work with products produced by various manufacturers.

Thanks to Clifford Hui for the tip. -Ed

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WHAT?! $300???

I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 3:02:25 PM #

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 3:18:10 PM #
You have to realize that the price would be significantly lower if it was a mass-produced, limited technology device. Wireless Network capability is quite advanced, and for most major corporations, 300 is not unreasonable.

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 3:24:56 PM #
Yeah I get it... Aim for the coporate clients and not the consumers (Palm's mentality).

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 3:37:07 PM #
Huh? Palm does a great job at addressing the consumer market. In fact right now that is
Palm's biggest challenge. It has been selling to many individual users which to date has given
them the large market share in PDA's. HOWEVER, if they DON'T address the corporate buyers
QUICKLY they WILL lose to the Pocket PC PDA's!

From a corporation standpoint they could care less if individuals are buying Palm's for their own
use, however good luck on finding support to sync with the corporate network! Trust me,
I am in a fortune 300 company, and the mentality around here is that Palm's are great for
simple uses, but not for custom apps... I am fighting that, but I am afraid I will probably lose
to the Pocket PC's, if for any other reason, we are a "Microsoft shop" argument! (I shudder
everytime I think about that one!)

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 4:11:10 PM #
Before they were targeting consumers thus their popularity. I'm talking about now. Palm's losing $180 million. Palm's cutting off jobs. Palm has overstocked due to problems with their recent models and the competition -- last resort is to aim for corporate clients.

See: http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=2083

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 7:47:22 PM #
Most consumers don't even know what 802.11b is, much less what it can do. The existence of the device is aimed at corporations and education, not the average consumer. Until 802.11b reaches market penetration to the point where it becomes a consumer technology, it will continue to be expensive. It has made movements toward that in the last year, but it is still a luxury item beyond the reach of most.

And this has nothing to do with Palm's mentality.. Xircom is who is making the device.

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 9:05:58 PM #
Fortune 300 company? Wow. I work for a company that is in the fortune 20, as a contractor at a company in the fortune 10. And guess what everyone uses? Palms. The only people who use a PocketPC are the ultradorks who run (barely) the IT dept.

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2001 10:51:00 AM #
As pointed out by another, this is a Xircom product not a Palm product. Palm third party vendors are free to attack whatever market they think they’ll sell products in. I've worked with Xircom and they are all about selling in lots of 500-5000 units. Their target audience is MIS directors. Xircom's target audience IS NOT consumers, never has been and I suspect never will be. The fact that they sell in the retail market is almost a fluke. The thing I wonder about is, if you’re in a 802.11b environment, do you really need wireless access on your Palm? I mean, in the corporate environment you’re either at meetings (and can’t you do without checking your email in a meeting?) or at your desk where you’ll have access to the "standard issue Outlook." Do you really need to download files from the corporate network onto your Palm? I just don’t see the market need for this.

RE: WHAT?! $300???
jayhawk88 @ 6/27/2001 6:04:51 PM #
"Xircom's target audience IS NOT consumers..."

Exactly. If Palm (or any other PDA maker for that matter) was smart, they'd find a way to get this functionality built into a unit itself. Size and power are always factors of course, but 802.11 connectivity built into a Palm is probably the Holy Grail for many corporate IT departments.

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2001 9:02:18 PM #
Old technology. Check out http://www.pogo-tech.com
Also, whatever happened to using a GSM cellphone via IR to access the internet? $300 + monthly fees, not my cup of tea thank-you very much.

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/28/2001 10:11:54 AM #
802.11b on Palm is required for situations where you can't take/carry/juggle a laptop.. such as in a warehouse or on a shipping dock.. have you seen the iPaq commercial with the guy on the shipping dock complaining about not being able to keep up with order changes? (I wrote a system for portable computing 7 years ago using a predecessor to 802.11.. so if he didn't know he could do that, he wasn't paying attention).

Yes, taking a laptop with an 802.11b card works well in most cases.. but I, personally, look forward to being able to check my email without having to boot up my laptop. :)

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/28/2001 2:47:42 PM #
I work in a large health care system as the sole palm os programmer, and having 802.11b for my apps would just be wonderfull.. doctors pullin down there census real time..

RE: WHAT?! $300???
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 4:29:11 PM #
Actually, what many VARs are doing is leasing the units and service for a monthly fee. This system is in place in Joplin, Missouri (of all places) and is being constructed in Kansas City, Missouri.

I am unaware if PalmNet is using 802.11b. Does anyone else know?

More Details

Ed @ 6/26/2001 3:06:15 PM #
I just sent an e-mail off to Xircom asking for some details, like its dimensions and weight and if they have a picture available.

News Editor
Palm Infocenter
RE: More Details
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 4:25:13 PM #
I found a picture of the device here http://www.xircom.com/assets_ww/products_ww/handheld_ww/pwe1.gif http://www.xircom.com/assets_ww/products_ww/handheld_ww/pwe1.gif">

and a short description here http://www.xircom.com/cda/page/0,1298,0-0-1_1-1730,00.html

Looks kinda chunky, but not too bad.

RE: More Details
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 4:28:35 PM #
Also from their website :

Lithium-Ion‚ rechargeable via Palm cradle
2 hours of continuous transmission

This seems to me to mean that it might have "pass-through" capability. It's looking very, very good, if that's the case.

RE: More Details
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 4:48:29 PM #
There's actually a PDF file with more information and images. From the looks of it, the "sled" will add considerable bulk (in terms of depth) to the m500 -- the unit itself looks to be about twice as thick as a Palm m500.


Sorry about the length of the URL.

This cries out for a keyboard pass-through!

I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 3:42:25 PM #
I hope Xircom has at least considered a keyboard pass-through
on this module! If they've got that, they've got my business! I'd
no longer need to schlep a laptop at all.

RE: This cries out for a keyboard pass-through!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 4:22:38 PM #
Good comment! Many of these new devices come in a cradle device where the palm sits and covers the unit's sync port. Hope this one doesn't.

RE: This cries out for a keyboard pass-through!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 4:28:40 PM #
Oops, I sspoke too soon. It DOES block off the sync port. http://www.xircom.com/cda/page/0,1298,0-0-1_1-1730,00.html

RE: This cries out for a keyboard pass-through!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 4:51:25 PM #
It doesn't look this is the case, but it may have made more sense if the module was designed to iterface via the SD slot. That would leave the port on the bottom free for anything else. Of course people would then complain that they can't use their SD cards at the same time.

It's my understanding that Palm devices only support one device at a time on the hotsync connector anyway.

BIG and UGLY...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 5:16:31 PM #
nuff said

RE: BIG and UGLY...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 5:22:45 PM #
Can't say much about it being ugly but all 802.11b products are going to be pretty big. This is something that can connect a 11 MBps at 300 feet. You aren't going to get the electronics for that into something the size of a stick of chewing gum. Add in the heavy power requirements making an additional battery necessary and you've got a hefty size. If you want tiny, you'll have to look to Bluetooth.

-Call me "Pink"

RE: This cries out for a keyboard pass-through!
GKreamer @ 6/26/2001 10:00:34 PM #
The PDF says that the Lithium-ion battery is rechargable through the Palm cradle, wouldn't this indicate that the Xircom device has its own Universal Connector- capable of connecting to any peripheral that uses the Palm UC including keyboards?

802.11b != big
palmcoder @ 6/27/2001 12:44:26 AM #
"Can't say much about it being ugly but all 802.11b products are going to be pretty big."


802.11b != "big"

ever seen a wireless LAN card for a PC? It's the same size as any other PC Card (PCMCIA) with a small bulge for the antenna.

That said, I'm getting tired of dropping $200-$300 for these custom-fit Palm expansion solutions.

I'd much rather have an PC CARD expansion sled. That would allow me to use the cards I already use in my laptop.

RE: battery = big
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2001 10:00:29 AM #
But the 802.11b PC Cards don't need an additional battery. Laptops can feed them all the power they need and its a pretty fair amount. A Palm just doesn't have that much power to spare. There's not a lot of point in having an add-on that drains the Palm's batteries in about 15 minutes. You have to add an additional battery to your calculations. That adds size, weight, and cost.

RE: This cries out for a keyboard pass-through!
palmcoder @ 6/27/2001 1:05:38 PM #
True - you will need an external power source and that does add to the size.

Why not build a "sled" along the lines of the PC Card expansion "jackets" that the iPaq uses? It provides the power, is much more expandable, and is less expensive (when you consider that you can reuse your existing PC Cards.)


Pocket PC wins again..

I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 6:08:21 PM #
There are two compact flash wireless ethernet modules coming out in July. Looks like Pocket PC wins once again.

RE: Not completely
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 6:12:07 PM #
Unless you forget about us HandEra/TRGpro users. We've got more expansion capabilities before breakfast than most HCs have all day.

RE: Pocket PC wins again..
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 9:45:42 PM #
I have a Handera alhtough I don't know what an HC is. Pocket PCs can use many more compact flash devices than Handera and also PC cards which no Palm can do.

RE: Acronyms
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 9:53:56 PM #
If PC = Personal Computer then HC = Handheld Computer.

RE: Two Words Why Pocket PC Loses again..
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2001 12:40:26 AM #
Battery Life....

Wireless LAN solutions consume much more power than similar Bluetooth set-ups, even if the former has already become a defacto standard with BT being so slow off the blocks.

Use your card solution without an independent power source and add it to the already power intensive tendencies of the Pocket PC devices (I speak as an owner) and you really don't have a convenient solution...

I want this!

David Arnstein @ 6/26/2001 6:26:39 PM #
Until I read this report, I thought that Sony was all over Palm. Not so. Sony's screen is still the best, but Palm is first in connectivity. I'm really enjoying networking with my Palm Vx and Startac phone. Fast networking with the Xircom device will be great!

OK, so THATs the difference with Bluetooth

mondo @ 6/26/2001 6:34:03 PM #
This has a high degree of coolness about it, and as I've said before, being able to go through walls, up to 100m, is great.

On the downside, its a big unit, and I would like to use my keyboard with it.

The Bluetooth card (announced by Palm) or the BT sleds for Palm V series are a lot smaller, and thus look easier to carry about.

BT also being cheaper is great.

Not using the SD slot has an advantage in that you can still run apps from the card. So using the Universal Connector is good, but a kbd pss through is fairly essential.

Sydney, Australia

RE: OK, so THATs the difference with Bluetooth
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2001 10:06:48 PM #
I have the Xircom for my Prism and it works great. I check my Lotus mail at the office and my Personal mail via multimail via isp without having to dock in my cradle. Also who cares if the new M500 series sled covers the sync port. If you own the device you are most likely going to network hotsync. That is what I do.


RE: OK, so THATs the difference with Bluetooth
fleegle @ 6/27/2001 9:57:07 AM #
You would care if you wanted to use an external keyboard (like the PPK) and use the network at the same time. Like a mini-laptop. :)

RE: OK, so THATs the difference with Bluetooth
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2001 10:16:12 AM #
Good point. I stand corrected.. I personally do not have this problem since The Xircom module I use is a Springboard and my syncport is availiable for the keyboard.




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