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Thu Jan 11, 2001 - 11:16 AM EST - By Scott Hanselman


The Minstrel S is a CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) Modem. It is spec'ed to run at 19.2kbps full duplex. When you add in the latency for the open-up and tear-down for each connection, the sustained speed of the modem doesn't mean as much as you'd think. The modem adds about 1/3" to the thickness of the Visor.

The battery life on the modem is amazing. I was unable to get it to run out over several hours of web surfing. I've heard numbers from 8 hours to 11 hours. Either way, it's a great lithium-ion battery, and if you charge it every day (like I do my Prism) it will probably serve you all day long. I used my Prism/OmniSky combination almost exclusively as my primary system for a while on the road without any battery incidences.

There are three LEDs on the modem. Starting on the left, is a green led that indicates signal strength. When it's blinking the modem is looking for a connection, when it's solid the modem has a connection. In the middle is a red led that indicates if you have waiting mail. When you've configured your POP/IMAP Email and told the OmniSky servers about your accounts, the modem can wake up (without waking up your Palm) and check for waiting mail at a configurable interval. This feature is cool, but seems to work intermittently. The third green light indicates when the Modem is charging or fully charged.

Even though Springboards are supposed to be totally plug-and-pray, be aware that if you yank the Minstrel while it's in use, all bets are off. I don't know if this is a Minstrel S specific issue, or a problem with Springboards in general. I've had a few soft resets, and one looping-crashing-hard-reset I was only able to recreate when I yanked the Springboard in the middle of a reset. I've seen it with other Minstrel S Modems, so I don't believe this has anything to do with OmniSky's implementation. I would recommended three things to combat this issue.

  1. Get a Backup Module - smartest thing you'll ever do, and backup daily, regardless of how many times you HotSync.
  2. Don't "surprise" the SpringBoard, try to use the "Turn Modem Off" command in the OmniSky Software.
  3. Be patient with wireless, we are early adopters!

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Product Info
Name OmniSky module
Company OmniSky
Width: 2.6"
Length: 5.0"
Length (external to Visor): .73"
Thickness: .32"
Weight: 4 oz
Fact Sheet & User Opinions

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