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Eight Tips for Using Your Pocket PC

by Wei-Meng Lee
11/07/2002

Whenever I ask people what they do with their Pocket PCs, the most frequent answers are for taking notes and keeping track of their time schedules and contacts. These are logical responses since the PDA was first invented for such purposes.

But if you think about it, isn't it very expensive to buy a $500 gadget just to keep track of your notes, schedules, and phone numbers? I could do the same with a $5 notebook. And that is precisely what happened to most PDA buyers. After the excitement of buying a new gadget dies off, they find their PDAs gathering dust in the drawer To be honest, I am one of the victims, starting in the early days of my first Palm IIIe.

Surely there must be more interesting uses for these devices. And, indeed, today's Pocket PC runs at a whopping 400Mhz, although nothing compared to your blazingly fast 2.4Ghz desktop. Pocket PCs have gotten faster, more colorful, and come loaded with more memory. With this improved capability, you can now do more on your Pocket PC than ever imagined before. In this article, I will show you some cool ways to fully utilize your Pocket PC and how it can make your life, well, more meaningful.

I'll show you how to:

  • Surf the Web via 802.11b
  • Surf the Web via Bluetooth (phone or access point)
  • Listen to music on your Pocket PC
  • Watch movies Using PocketTV
  • Use Your Pocket PC as a backup device
  • Connect to Windows servers using Terminal Services
  • Change the theme of your Pocket PC
  • Project the Pocket PC screen onto your desktop

My Gear: The iPAQ 3870 and the Dual-Slot PC Card Expansion Pack

My gear consists of a Compaq iPaq 3870 running Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 and a dual-slot PC Card Expansion pack (also from Compaq).

iPaq 3870 Dual-Slot PC Card Expansion Pack
Figure 1. The iPaq 3870 and the Dual-Slot PC Card Expansion Pack

The iPaq 3870 comes with built-in Bluetooth support, and hence there is no need to add any cards/adapters to it for Bluetooth usage. (For iPaq 36xx series users, Compaq sells the Bluetooth Wireless Pack with CF Card Slot. Check out Compaq's Web site for more details). For expansion options, I got a dual-slot PC card expansion pack from Compaq. The expansion pack contains two PC card slots. Using these two slots, I can add in an 1GB IBM Microdrive (using a CF/CF+ adapter) and a Socket Low Power WLAN 802.11b card:

Socket Low Power WLAN Card IBM Microdrive
Figure 2. The Socket Low Power WLAN card and IBM Microdrive

At this moment, vendors selling 802.11b wireless cards include D-Link and Symbol.

Harmony 802.11b CompactFlash Card Symbol Wireless Networker D-Link DCF-650W SMC SMC2642W
Harmony 802.11b CompactFlash Card Symbol Wireless NetworkerTM CompactFlashTM Card for Pocket PC PDAs D-Link DCF-650W Wireless Compact Flash Adapter SMC SMC2642W 11Mbps Wireless CompactFlash Card
Figure 3. The various makes of 802.11b wireless network card

You can also reuse your existing PCMCIA 802.11b Wireless Network card on your Pocket PC, provided you have the PC slots jacket like the one described earlier.

Surfing the Web Wirelessly via 802.11b

Two competing wireless technologies today are battling for consumer adoption. In one camp you have vendors building Bluetooth support right onto the PDA, like Compaq, and in the other camp, you have vendors supporting 802.11b. Toshiba is one such company. It is betting on the 802.11b going mainstream. With the increasing number of hotspots in public places like airports, schools, etc, it's not difficult to understand why Toshiba is betting on the success of 802.11b with its latest e740 Pocket PC 2002 PDA.

Toshiba e740
Figure 4. The Toshiba e740 with 802.11b built-in

The most distinctive feature of the Toshiba e740 is the built-in support for 802.11b wireless networking. There is no need for you to buy an additional 801.11b CF card anymore; it comes ready to connect right out of the box.

With 802.11b equipped on your Pocket PC, you can surf the Web using the Pocket Internet Explorer. Although most sites today are not Pocket PC friendly, if you take your time to hunt for it, you can find some specially designed Web sites catering to the small screen real estate of your Pocket PC.

Pocket PC Magazine Microsoft Pocket PC website
Figure 5. Using Pocket Internet Explorer to surf the Web

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