Road warriors can stay connected with Sierra's...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Road warriors can stay connected with Sierra's AirCard

Mobile data communication, the ability to stay connected regardless of where you and your computer may roam, is an attractive idea that has so far remained elusive for most. But Sierra Wireless of Richmond, British Columbia has several products that offer multiple connectivity solutions for today's hyperactive road warriors.

The company's popular AirCard ($895) offers three ways to connect: a conventional 33.6 kbps land line modem, a CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) wireless connection at 19.2 kbps, and for those who don't have CDPD service available, a regular circuit-switched cellular modem (which sends data over a conventional cellular phone network). The AirCard works with any Windows computer that has two Type II PC card slots. The land-line modem card takes up one slot, the cellular modem card takes up the other. A small flexible antenna clips onto the cellular modem card.

Sierra Wireless' latest product is the AirCard 300 ($499) which brings CDPD cellular to hand-held PCs. Unlike the AirCard, the AirCard 300 offers CDPD service only (and uses only one PC card slot). Several models of hand-held computers can power the AirCard 300 directly (the HP 620LX and 660LX and the NEC 750C), while other hand-helds require a $50 battery pack.

Of course, a cellular modem is only as good as the network it's on (to paraphrase Darth Vader). CDPD service is available in most major cities in the US. AT&T; Wireless, Bell Atlantic Mobile, GTE Wireless and Ameritech all offer it. Pricing is competitive and stands at $54.95 a month for all-you-can-eat data access. Some providers sell AirCards at a discount with their service plans.

The cost of wireless connectivity is still too high for most of us, but for those whose job depends on staying in touch, the AirCard is an excellent solution.

Information: 604-231-1100 or www.sierrawireless.com.

Revamped magazine for PC power users

Some PC magazines come and go -- others just get a face lift. When Imagine Publishing announced that it was revamping boot, its popular deep-geek PC magazine, I have to admit that I got nervous. boot, with its muscle car approach to computing (power! power! power!) had become a guilty pleasure for me.

I'm happy to report that boot's slightly more conservative makeover, Maximum PC ($12 for 12 issues), is even better. Obviously trying to appeal to a wider audience, the new mag includes useful features such as Watchdog, which goes to bat for readers who've been wronged by a manufacturer, and Spin Cycle, which features quotes from corporate press releases and plain English interpretations. When articles contain technical terms that might be new to less-advanced users, the words are color-coded and defined in a glossary section.

But, at its heart, Maximum PC still lusts after the latest and greatest systems, processors, graphics cards and peripherals.

Information: 800-274-3421 or www.maximumpc.com

You can find full reviews of these and other neat products at www.streettech.com.

Pub Date: 03/08/99

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