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  1.    #1  
    I finally received the sled from Expansys after a month and a half wait (stocking issues) about a week ago. I've been using it daily for surfing from the couch, connecting to my wireless 802.11b/g Linksys router.

    I've also included a short section on my "hacking" to see how this thing ticks (at the bottom)

    Setup Experience

    The setup experience was painless for me. I skipped the CD that came with the sled in favour of the firmware updater that is currently available from Enfora. This latest firmware apparently fixes a bug with APs that contain spaces in their network name. The firmware upgrade is a simple .prc you install on the phone which updates a number of different firmware locations on the sled. This takes about five minutes - make sure you've plugged your sled in!

    Once the firmware was updated, I fired up the Enfora wireless manager (helpfully named "Enfora"), painstakingly entered my WEP key and connected right away! I couldn't get the ASCII version of my WEP key to work properly, but this could be a problem on the Linksys router itself.

    Device Look and Feel

    The sled itself looks sleek, though it does add a significant amount of volume to the phone. I don't think any case on the market will hold the phone with the WiFi adapter attached to it.

    The adapter itself latches on to the back of a specially designed battery cover. Removing it requires a slight wiggle of the phone to disconnect the connector at the bottom. It takes a few days to get over the feeling that you are going to break something while attaching it.

    Device Features

    The device itself is an 802.11b wifi client, supports unencrypted, 64 or 128-bit WEP modes only. It can connect in either infrastructure mode or ad-hoc client mode (where you specify the channel and connect to a wifi cloud). From analysis of the client, it looks like it supports 802.11d, but doesn't seem to offer any options for configuration of this mode.

    Using the Sled

    (you can get a copy of the manual for perusal at http://store.treocentral.com/content...-60--400-4.htm)

    The sled has three modes that you'll find it in: off (no LED), standby (yellow LED) and connected (green LED).

    By default, the sled has a powersaving feature that turns it off if it hasn't been used for a couple of minutes. Note that the sled is completely inactive when it is off - you need to power it on before you can connect. You can choose to disable the powersaving mode, but be warned that your battery will not last as long as if it is enabled.

    The sled disconnects from the access point whenever the phone enters standby. I believe this is a function of the Palm OS itself, since I've seen the same thing happen with my network connection over the USB cable.

    Surfing Speeds

    The surfing speeds are pretty much what I'd expect. I would guess that they range anywhere from 10 kB/s to 40 kB/s. I don't have any hard numbers, but I can't complain that I'm waiting excessively. You'll find yourself waiting for Blazer to render rather than the data itself.

    Quirks

    The sled always seems to read as "full battery" when the power cable is connected. You need to mentally calculate how long you've charged it. I think that two hours is sufficient, but I don't know for sure. In addition, the sled doesn't have a "fully charged" light.

    The sled doesn't effectively communicate that its battery is dead. You press the power key, expecting it to turn on, it blinks yellow and turns off right away. Some might mistake this for a defective unit, especially given the above quirk that shows a full battery when you plug it in.

    If the sled doesn't have a great connection to the access point, it loses the "green light" but doesn't seem to notify the software stack. The phone continues to believe that it is connected, but no data gets transmitted. On top of this, there's a bug in the Enfora manager where it won't be able to talk to the sled again until you disconnect the connection manually (the USB port is still in use by the broken connection). One trick to work around this is to put the phone into standby and bring it back - this disconnects the network stack and releases the USB port in the OS and forces it to reconnect.

    Hacking

    The neat thing about the WiFi sled is that they haven't required any specific drivers to be loaded on the Treo itself - only a specialized connection that connects via USB to the sled itself. The Treo sends ATxxx commands over the communication port to the sled, letting the sled handle the gritty details of managing a WiFi connection!

    You can play around with some of the AT commands yourself by editing the connection:

    ATD - "dials" the WiFi connection (connects to the configured AP), returns "CONNECT 115200" then sets up a virtual PPP session as if a modem dialed a PPP server
    ATI0 - lists the company name "Enfora, inc."
    ATI1 - lists the product type "WiFi Adapter"
    AT+LVSSID? - lists the currently configured SSID the sled connects to
    AT+LVSCAN - performs a scan of the SSIDs visible to the sled
    AT+LVSTAT? - lists some sort of information, possibly profile related (?)
    AT+LVRIDFD89? - prints a summary of the connection to the AP - signal levels, MAC address and SSID
    AT+LVRIDFD20? - lists the radio version
    AT$BATT? - lists the current battery level
    AT$PWRSAVE=x,y,z - sets the power saving levels (5,90,240 seems to be the "power saving = on" setting, 0,0,0 is off)
    AT+LVTIMEOUT=x - sets some sort of timeout related to power saving (30 is the "power saving = on" setting, 0 is off)

    AT+OPEN - open the wifi connection without creating a virtual PPP session (turns on the green light)
    AT+CLOSE - closes the wifi connection (turns off the green light)

    The cool thing is you could probably write an application that would allow you to "wardrive" with this thing by calling AT+LVSCAN over and over.

    Conclusion

    I'm happy with the sled, now that I'm used to the quirks and have a pretty good idea of what to expect. It gives me the freedom to roam around my house while still surfing.

    Note that their implementation is pretty ingenious - they've reduced the instability you might see by stuffing all the logic into their device rather than into a Treo driver. They've re-used the well-tested PPP code in the PalmOS itself to handle the network interface between the device and the sled. This likely has another advantage of making the "guts" of the device compatible with the Treo 600, 650 and any future Palm device.
    Last edited by mmastrac; 11/07/2005 at 11:20 PM.
  2. #2  
    Nice review. Never thought I would like a sled attached to the treo, but for sitting around the house or at a hotel surfing I guess this would be OK.
    Make It Happen!!
    If you don't, who will?
  3. #3  
    Any pics?

    How do you carry this huge combo? Not in your pants I assume?
  4.    #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by whatever7
    Any pics?

    How do you carry this huge combo? Not in your pants I assume?
    I don't carry it with me - I pop the phone into my Krusell case on the go. The wifi itself is more for home use.

    The extra size is a little too much for pants pocket use. If you want to keep it nearby, I recommend getting a little pouch or box to hold it in, then connecting it to your phone when you want to use it.

    Personally, I'd like to purchase a cable that would let me run a wire from the phone to the wifi adapter so that I could keep that adapter in something like an iPod sock, unattached. I'd rather pop the sync cable in than have to go through the motions of removing the phone from my case and popping the adapter in.

    I'll post some pics later today.
  5. #5  
    Thanks for the review mmastrac....very helpful. I'm considering buying one of these.
  6. #6  
    Take a look at my blog entry at http://palmthings.blogspot.com for a case that I use to hold the Treo and the Enfora sled comfortably.

    Kraig
  7. #7  
    If you want to: you, or anyone with a sled, could hit up http://text.dslreports.com/mspeed for some speed tests.

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