---------- ---------- PC Pro Realworld Computing: Paul Lynch - PDAs

Infra Red

Using infra red ports for connections is the big issue of the moment. All of the Windows CE palm sized machines, the Psion Series 5 and the Palm III can use infra red for both synchronisation and for modem connections. The Palm III machine (or an older Pilot with the PalmOS 3.0 upgrade) needs some add on software to enable using the IR port as a serial port, as does the Series 5.

Depending upon what you want to do, there are several IR enabling programs available for PalmOS 3. IrSync was the original program that I found to enable HotSync over the IrDA port to a laptop. The developer, IS/Complete, have also released products to print to an IrDA printer (IrPrint), and to use the IrDA port as a serial port (IrLink). These are beta quality products (as the Psion Series 5 fix), and don't always work in all cases, so be warned to take care.


For a long time the favoured GSM phone to use with infra red comms was the Nokia 9000, another PDA! This has worked ever since the first model was available, although the phone itself duplicates enough functionality that it isn't a reasonable or practical proposition for most people. The new model of mobile phone from Ericsson, the SH888, is the best GSM phone to use with IR enabled PDAs at the moment. Although the Nokia 6610 has an IR port, this doesn't work with PDAs at all, and so should be avoided. It seems that the 6610 doesn't implement a full IrDA interface. The latest Nokia phone, the 8810, should work, as it does implement IrDA, but I haven't received any reports of success to date.

If you are setting up a Windows CE palm sized PC for IR comms, you should set the PDA to use COM3, as this is the default location for the IR serial port, although some machines might not have this implemented. If that is the case, then a registry hack can be used to install the COM3 device. See the illustration, which shows enough detail to create the new registry entries that will be required.

Edit the registry to install an IrDA modem
Edit the registry to install an IrDA modem

A good site for general information about Windows CE and communications is http://windowsce.hess.net , covering PPP connections, GSM and infra red.

Words and design by:
Paul Lynch
Last updated: November 3, 1998

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