Enfora Soon Releasing Case with Built-In Wi-Fi

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This spring, Enfora, Inc. announced it was developing a carrying case for Palm-branded handhelds that will give them Wi-Fi wireless networking access. Unfortunately, the release of this has been pushed back several times. The company now says it will be available in the near future.

Leather WP802b The WP802b will connect to the handheld through the HotSync port and will be compatible with devices that use the Palm Universal Connector. This includes both Palm OS 4.1 and OS 5.x devices.

At this point, there are very few options for those wanting Wi-Fi access on their Palm-branded handheld. While SanDisk will soon ship its Wi-Fi SD card, drivers for the Palm OS aren’t expected until this fall.

Outdoors, it will have a maximum range of about 330 feet. Indoors, with walls and other obstacles, range will be closer to 70 feet. Its data-transfer speed will be limited by the fact that it is communicating to handheld through a serial connection, giving it a maximum speed of about 115 Kbps. The company is working on a version that will offer a much higher data-transfer speed.

Leather WP802b One of the drawbacks of Wi-Fi is that it requires so much power that it drains the handheld’s battery very quickly. The WP802b will have its own 700 mAh rechargeable battery that Enfora says will run for up to 24 hours on a single charge.

There will be two versions, leather and denim. The leather one will sell for $199, while the denim one will be $159. Initially, Enfora will offer an instant rebate off the cost of the leather version, bringing its cost down to $169. Both of these will be 6.2 by 3.8 by 1.4 inches (95 x 35 x 155 mm) and will offer several slots for SD/MMC cards and others for credit cards and business cards.

Enfora is already shipping the WP802b to some customers who ordered large numbers of them and it says the device will be generally available next week. Mobile Planet is taking pre-orders for these and will have them in stock on August 29.

An Enfora spokesperson says it is considering versions for Sony’s Clie line and some Pocket PC models.

About Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi, also called IEEE 802.11b, is a medium-range wireless networking protocol. It’s typically used to allow mobile devices, like laptops and handhelds, to connect to networks and therefore the Internet. Networks can be set up at home or offices and an increasing number of coffee shops and other businesses offer Wi-Fi access.

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