Spectec SDW-822 miniSDIO WiFi Review

When Judie asked me if I was interested in reviewing the miniSDIO version of the Spectec WiFi card similar to her SDIO one, I was thrilled. My Treo has been pretty well perfect since I got it, except for internet access. Up until recently I have had to make do with only a 10MB data allowance, which is pretty small if I surf with pictures, especially on sites that aren?t designed for mobile devices. With a WiFi card I can surf as much as I like at home without having to worry about going over my 10MB. But therein lies the problem. WiFi isn?t very widespread, at least not here in Australia. 98% of the time I want to surf the web outside of my house I won?t be anywhere near a hotspot.

But anyway I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Lets look at the card itself before I lay out my problems. The Spectec miniSDIO WiFi card (SDW-822) comes in a small green box. You can see the WiFi card through the plastic window on the front.

The contents are very simple: the WiFi card in plastic case, and the driver CD.

The WiFi card comes in a small plastic card, similar to those that SD cards come in but slightly smaller. Considering the miniscule size of the card, you really need something that has a 3rd dimension to carry it in.

The Card itself is TINY!! It is simply unbelievable that they can fit a WiFi transceiver and antenna in a card the size of a postage stamp, and as thick as a credit card. Unlike the SD WiFi cards of old which stuck almost 1? out of the SD slot, the miniSDIO WiFi card is less than 5mm longer than a standard miniSD card. That is pretty amazing!!

The card slips into the miniSD slot like a normal miniSD card, and sticks out the afore mentioned 4mm or so.

The device I am using it on (and I?d say most buyers of this card will be using) is a Treo 750, which has a cover over the miniSD slot. Normally this is a good thing, as it protects the miniSD slot from dust, and the miniSD card from popping out. But with a card this sticks out, the flap just gets in the way.

Fortunately it?s not too bad, as the flap just rests against the antenna sticking out.

I had a fair bit of trouble getting stable operation out of my card with my Treo 750. When I could get it to work, it was only after a softreset. If I turned it off (or the autoshutoff turned the Treo off) I would have to reset before it would work again. The device could just not see it, and removing and reinserting the card did not help. I knew others were using the card without a problem on the 750 so it had to be something wrong with my setup. After numerous hardresets, I have got the card working properly using the latest drivers for WM5.0 for Pocket PC from the Spectec website.

When I finally got it working, I was able to test it out and see how it actually performed. After installing the driver, inserting the WiFi card will display the default Windows Mobile WiFi connection wizard. A list will be displayed with the available wireless networks. Select the desired network, enter the code (if there is one) and your connected!

A new option will appear in the Connection Manager for the WiFi card, although I don’t know how useful it is. When you don’t want to use the WiFi you just take it out.

So how is it in use? Well my results have been somewhat mixed. When transferring files over the network, it was fairly speedy. A 1MB file transferred from my desktop to my 750 internal memory in about 6 seconds, which doesn?t seem to bad. Internet speed was where I was very disappointed. Using DSL Reports speed test I got speeds between 300Kbit and 500Kbit, which to be honest is very poor. I have a 10Mbit cable connection, so I should be getting a much higher speed than that. When using UMTTS I get 250-300Kbit, and with the HSDPA hack I was getting 600-800Kbit, so 300-500Kbit over WiFi on 10Mbit Cable sucks!!

But that doesn?t really measure real world use. While it?s not the fastest connection in the world, it does work quite well, and pages do load fairly quickly. Range on the card is also quite good, which surprised me considering how tiny the antenna is. My parents house is pretty big, and with the router (Belkin N1, review pending) in just about the middle I can get a good signal everywhere inside and a few metres outside.

While I am happy that I got my initial issues straightened out, I don?t think I will be using it very often. I have recently added a 200MB data addon to my phone plan, which is plenty for all the web surfing (with pictures) that I like to do on my Treo, as well as using the Treo as a UMTS modem for my MacBook Pro when necessary. Therefore I won?t really use it in my Treo. However, my dad?s new PDA/GPS (Mio P350) does not have WiFi but it does have an SD slot, and using a miniSD to SD adaptor it works perfectly in that for him.

So if you need WiFi on your Treo or other device because it doesn?t have WiFi builtin, and you don?t have a data plan, then the Spectec SDW-822 is an excellent choice. If you device only has an SD slot, you can pickup a miniSD to SD adaptor very cheaply (or just buy a really cheap miniSD card, they all come with adaptors) on eBay and use the miniSD version with its smaller antenna (not to say the SD version has a large one though :-P). It range is quite excellent, and while it not exactly a speed demon it will get you online đŸ˜€

The Spectec SDW-822 miniSDIO 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.
What I Like: Gives any miniSDIO or SDIO device WiFi capability, very small, excellent range.
What I Didn?t Like: Speed wasn?t all that great even on 10Mbit Cable

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About the Author

Mitchell Oke
Mitchell is a video producer and director working with Australia's leading motoring news sites and car companies. He's always on the go with a camera in hand. With a Bachelor of Creative Technology (Digital Video Production), Mitchell's worked for News Limited, CarAdvice.com and as a freelancer for many years.