Wi-Fi SD Cards Delayed Until Mid-Year

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Earlier this year, two companies announced plans to release in coming months Wi-Fi wireless networking cards that will plug into the SD slot on both Palm OS and Pocket PC handhelds. Unfortunately, people who have been eagerly awaiting these are in for some bad news: the first of these aren’t expected until June at the earliest.

SyChip WLAN 6060SD In January, SanDisk announced plans to release by the end of the first quarter of the year a Wi-Fi SD card that would work with both Palm OS and Pocket PC models. A company representative said today that this card won’t be available until June. This card will cost $100.

The company also announced one of the most anticipated products of this year: an SD card that will combine Wi-Fi and 256 MB of memory in one. When it was announced SanDisk said it would be available by mid-year. The company said today that it won’t be available until September. It will sell for $150.

When asked for the reason for this delay, the company rep said the job of fitting both the wireless networking hardware and the memory into the small amount of space afforded by an SD card has proven more challenging than expected.

SanDisk will release a CompactFlash card that offers both Wi-Fi and 128 MB of memory in May for $130.

Socket Communications also announced a Wi-Fi SD card in January that it also now says won’t be released until mid-year. This one will only be available for the Pocket PC. Socket has not yet announced what it will cost.

“Actually going to production on a first generation product such as the SD WLAN card can lead to delays. There are many regulatory, association and other agency issues which need to be passed to deliver a final product,” said Peter Phillips, VP of Marketing, Socket Communications. “In addition, going to production with a new chip from Intersil and making it fit within the SD form factor is not a trivial task and requires new production, test and validation equipment to ramp up from samples to production volumes.”

He also said, “Developing a good customer experience from a software perspective can take a bit of work. Our goal is to deliver an easy to install/use, quality product.”

All of these Wi-Fi SD cards are based on a design from SyChip, which received FCC approval on February 24.

Who Will Be Able to Use These?

All Palm OS devices with SD slots will be able to use both of the SanDisk SD cards. However, they won’t be able to use the Socket one at all because the company doesn’t intend to write Palm OS drivers.

Pocket PC handhelds with SDIO support like the ViewSonic V35 will be able use the SanDisk cards, but drivers will need to be written for each model.

Socket is a member of the SDIO Now! program, so handhelds that are also members of this program will definitely be able to use the Socket card. This includes Samsung’s i700 and HP’s iPAQ 39xx series.

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