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New cards speed network access for handhelds

Xircom begins shipping network cards for Windows CE handheld devices, bringing high-speed network access to these devices for the first time.

Xircom today began shipping network cards for Windows CE handheld devices, bringing high-speed network access to these devices for the first time.

Xircom introduced the Xircom CompactCard Ethernet 10; this ethernet card, which fits in the PC card slot, allows Microsoft's Windows CE handheld users high-speed access to information stored on corporate computer networks.

The move comes at a time when communications and connectivity for mobile devices is gaining momentum. Microsoft and its partners announced last week an initiative that would bring wireless connectivity to some Windows CE devices via cell phones, an apparent response to Palm Computing's Palm VII wireless device.

In addition to accessing information stored on corporate networks, ethernet connections are typically much faster than standard analog modems. For example, Xircom says its Windows CE ethernet card connects at 10-mbps, compared to the fastest analog modem's 56-kbps transmission speed. To date, Windows CE devices have connected to the Internet via these analog modems.

Many observers have noted that practical business applications will have to be improved before Windows CE appeals to large corporations. Offering connectivity to corporate networks is one of the applications larger organizations have demanded, according to Xircom.

"Ethernet-speed access to data and applications will ease the adoption of handheld PCs as an enterprise-class business tool," said Ranee Bader, vice president of worldwide marketing for Xircom, in a statement.

In addition, Xircom's network card does not drain the handheld computer's battery, according to the company, which can be a concern with mobile devices.

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