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TDK GLOBALPULSE

Handheld PCs are great for jotting things down, maybe doing a spot of word-processing on the move, and of course playing games. However, the one thing they've never been very good at is connecting to the Internet via a mobile phone (or any phone come to that…), and sending and receiving e-mail and faxes. It is possible on most models, (those without built-in GSM connectivity) but you have to be pretty determined, it can be a real palaver.

 

The usual method is to use a PCMCIA (PC-Card) type modem, but not all hand-helds have the necessary card slot and that means using an adaptor – more cables and expense. Even when a modem can be used there's the hassle of configuring the PC to use it. GlobalPulse from TDK makes life a bit easier, its essentially a 'software' modem, for Windows CE computers, that takes care of the connection between the PC and a digital mobile phone, the package also includes a number of useful cellphone utilities, we'll come to those in a moment. At the moment GlobalPulse only works with CE handhelds and Nokia cellphones (6110 and 8110) but there are plans to introduce versions for Motorola and Siemens models later this year. Psion users will continue to have to make their own arrangements.

 

The kit comprises two 3.5-inch floppy discs with all of the software and a connecting cable that goes between the PC and the cellphone. The PC end of the cable is fitted with a standard 9-pin D-Sub serial plug, and this could cause a bit of trouble because not all CE handhelds have body-mounted standard serial sockets, instead to save space the socket is mounted on the PC docking module. That means unless there's some sort of adaptor lead available owners of CE PCs without serial sockets will have to cart their docking modules around with them.

 

Since CE portables don't have floppy disc drives the software has to be loaded into the machine via a desktop (or laptop) Windows PC, it's not difficult and should be second nature to most handheld users. After that it's simply a question of starting the set-up program, selecting the phone model from a list and configuring Pocket Internet Explorer with the details of your ISP and/or remote network settings. This potentially tricky stage is handled very well by the instructions, which are clear, well illustrated and easy to follow. 

 

In addition to the cellphone connection software GlobalPulse includes a utilities suite called HandPhone. This comprises a phonebook manager for swapping numbers between the PC and the phone, a phone dialler using the PC keyboard, an SMS (short message service) message manager, phone status monitor showing signal strength and battery level and a phone information viewer. The latter displays technical data including the phone's software version, serial and model numbers.

 

Side by side checks with LG CE handheld and a Windows 98 laptop, connected to a Nokia 2110 using a PC card modem showed no significant difference in speed and reliability of connection and download speed (pitifully slow in both cases, GSM networks can only handle 9600 bps). GlobalPulse is a big improvement in terms of ease of use and convenience but you may feel £100 is a bit stiff for a couple of floppies and a cable.  

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £117

Features            software 'modem' for Windows CE handheld PCs

To fit                 Nokia 6110 & 8110 (Motorola & Siemens models to follow)  

Contact TDK Systems 0181-938 1000

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            80%

 

XT RANGE  WALK & TALK

Our continental cousins have been happily using 'walk-and-talk' kits with their cellphones for years but the sight of someone walking down a British high street, animatedly talking to themselves, still manages to turn heads. We're slowly getting used to the idea, but as anyone who has used one will tell you, it's worth the odd sympathetic glance to be able to carry on with a conversation without having to hold the phone up to your ear – awkward if your hands are already full. Walk and talk adaptors also have other advantages, especially if you're concerned about the alleged safety implications of using a mobile phone. Microwave radiation from the antenna is kept well away from the users head, though whether or not it will lead to a spate of complaints about 'zapped' thighs and stomachs remains to be seen…

 

The XT kit from Switch Electronics is designed to be used with Ericsson models; it comprises a padded earphone with a microphone module about 20cm downstream the connecting cable. A sliding lapel clip stops the cable flapping around and on the end of the lead is an accessory connector that plugs into the base of the phone. The wire is a good length, so the phone can be kept almost anywhere about your person, on a belt clip or in an inside jacket pocket.

 

The earphone is reasonably comfortable; you can wear it for an hour or two without any problems. Audio quality is okay, it tends towards 'tinny' – you probably wouldn't want to use it on your Walkman -- but this is no bad thing in this application where speech is involved. Volume is sufficient, at least it's loud enough to be able to use it when there moderate background noise, such as in the street or a crowded pub. Likewise the microphone is well suited to the job, it's not too sensitive or directional and test callers reported no problems understanding what was being said. We also tried the kit in a car and this worked really well, though it's worth putting the phone in a holder. It works well and it's a fair price (look out for even lower prices in supermarkets). Worth considering.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £20 or less

Features            hands-free with integrated earphone and microphone cable

To fit                 Ericsson 688.788

Contact Switch Electronics, (01865) 400500

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            85%

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1999 1305

 


 

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