The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

I have to?say that the Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card is not a product I would have ever needed, if Palm hadn’t decided to deny WiFi to to its legion of WM5 Treo users. I can hear some of you asking it now…”Why would anyone with an all-you-can-eat data plan need WiFi?”


Well, because sometimes you do.

I’ve been in plenty of airports that offered WiFi service, but because they were built like bunkers my mobile phone’s signal was poor. I’ve also been in other countries where using GPRS data ran my T-Mobile bill into ridiculous sums – but WiFi was readily available, and it was free!

So some of you will smugly sit there thinking that you would never need a product like this, and that’s cool. I was once like that, too.

For those of you that understand the WiFi-less quandary, read on…

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

The Spectec 802.11b SDIO card measures 1.5″ long, roughly 0.25″ longer than the typical SD card. Included in the package are the WiFi SDIO card, a plastic storage case, and a driver disk.

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review


Network Standard Support IEEE 802.11b
Network Architectures < STA (AD-hoc and infrastructure) and AP mode
Frequency 2.4 GHZ band Direct conversion transceiver
Security WEP, WPA and WPA-TKIP Ready!
Radio Type IEEE 802.11b support DSSS system
Operating Channels 1-14 channels
Date Rate 1 , 2 ,5.5 ,11 Mbps Date Rate
Power Consumption < Avg. Operation: 95 -105mA
< Receive mode: 60 mA
< Transmit mode: 116 mA for 15 dBm Pout
Operating Voltage 3.0 V – 3.5 V
OS Support Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition (Pocket PC 2003 SE)
Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone
Windows CE 4.x / 5.0
Linux v2.418 on Samsung 2410 / 2440

Yeah, I noticed the absence of Palm OS from the compatible list, too. But since my Treo happens to be WM5, I am in luck. 😉

Using the mini CD driver installation disk, a small WiFi program is added to the PDA via ActiveSync.

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

Once installed, the SDIO card pokes above the SD slot about 0.25″, or just enough for the Spectec logo to nicely display. 😉

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

And here’s the backside. A green LED will shine at the base of the card (closest to the antenna) when WiFi is connected; it will quickly blink as the connection is established.

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

This is the WM5 Wireless Manager before adding the card…

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

After the driver has been installed and each time the card is inserted, this WiFi Warning will pop up…

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

I didn’t notice any interference during phone calls while using the WiFi card, but I suppose the advice given for emergency calls is wise; clicking Dismiss will reveal the newly amended Wireless Manager.

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

Once the Spectec SDIO WiFi card is running, the PDA has the same conveniences of a PDA with built-in WiFi, except for one – access to the memory slot is lost. Depending upon what programs the user has installed, this may be a big deal. Considering the minor miracles that Spectec has performed with inserting a microSD in their SDIO GPS card, I really do wish they could have tucked a similar slot into this one.

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card Review

Other than a lack of built-in memory or memory expansion capability, this WiFi card is the perfect accessory for anyone with a WM5 Treo or other Pocket PC without WiFi, and yes they still exist! Those of you with WM5 Treo 750s might want to watch for Mitchell’s upcoming review of the Spectec SDW-822 miniSDIO WiFi Card. 🙂

The Spectec SDW-820 SDIO WiFi Card is available directly from the manufacturer as well as from other retailers. Write to them for information on the retailer in your country. In the US, the authorized reseller is Setec.
MSRP: $46.85
What I Like: Adds the ability to wirelessly connect via WiFi to any Pocket PC with an SDIO slot
What Needs Improvement: I wish there were either added memory on the card, or a microSD slot


About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
I've had a fascination with all types of gadgets and gizmos since I was a child, beginning with the toy robot that my grandmother gave my brother - which I promptly "relieved him of" in 1973. I'm a self-confessed gadget magpie. I can't tell you how everything works, but I'm known world-wide for using a product until I have a full understanding of what it does, what its limitations are, and if it excels in any given area ... or not.
  • Mitchell Oke

    Yes I am looking forward to reviewing the miniSDIO version of this card. Unfortunately I am not on unlimited data, so I will definitely use it quite often.

  • I’ve got an unlimited data plan on my Cingular, I mean, AT&T cellular account, so I rarely use WiFi. If I didn’t have unlimited data, I don’t know how often I would use WiFi because you’re limited to either public (or subscribed, or other allowed) access points. Personally, I find it too limiting; and too battery intensive. But that’s just me…

    I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about the microSD version, Mitch. I’m looking forward to your review!

  • meinrosebud

    That would be very useful in my camera or PDA… yeah!

  • dw

    This would be ideal while traveling between job and school, especially when researching.

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