WiFile v1.02

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, June 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Hands High Software, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Palm OS 4.0 or higher and a connection to a network via direct WiFi, Bluetooth or cradle/cable
MSRP: $29.95

WiFile puts your Network Neighborhood in your hand. The program lets you transfer files to and from your Palm OS Handheld (PDA) from shared directories on corporate networks, school servers and home networks. With WiFile and a WiFi-enabled PDA you can connect via wireless access point to a local area network or the Internet, directly access programs, databases, documents, spreadsheets, music and image files, and any other files which are compatible with your PDA.

We tested WiFile on a Sony Clié TH55 with its built-in 802.11b WiFi, and a Palm Zire 72 with its built-in Bluetooth and our favorite Palm Zire 71. We accessed our office network through an existing 3Com 802.11 b/g router and connected Windows computers and one Mac running OS 10.2. Evidently Unix directories are accessible too as long as Samba is running but we did not try it. We also tried Bluetooth access through an Actiontec USB Bluetooth Adaptor. WiFile installed easily and ran well on both PDAs and we encountered no problems accessing our office network. We also accessed the network via cradle/cable and the Zire 71, establishing a network connection first using Plug2Net from Corsoft, then launching WiFile. In each case, WiFile detected available network connections and we were then able to configure access as needed. The Clié worked best when I activated the local network connection via Sony's MobileManager utility supplied with the PDA.

Sometimes - several times a week actually - I want an easy way to transfer JPEG photos, documents or notes to my PDA without saving documents through Documents To Go, QuickWord or RepliGo or some other program that will HotSync the files for me. I just want to access the network, copy the files and go. Sometimes - also several times per week - I want to copy files from the PDA's storage card to one of the computers on our network. From time to time also, I don't even want to transfer a document; I just want to stream it to the PDA from the network - a song file, a photo, a document or a spreadsheet. Before WiFile came along, it was all really hard to do and frankly using Documents To Go, QuickWord or RepliGo or whatever was appropriate was often the only choice. WiFile changed that and although it's not a full blown file manager, it sure makes it easy to move files on and off the PDA.

Cons: The Zire 72's Bluetooth implementation is competent, but don't spend important parts of your life doing large file transfers using this technologies on Palm OS PDAs. Restricting yourself to smaller files - text-heavy documents, spreadsheets, small JPEGs, and so on - allows WiFile to do its best work when Bluetooth is the access method of choice. Bluetooth blows - big time. It's crappy technology that needs to mature. It's slow, connections are often hazy and don't ever start moving the PDA around while a file transfer is taking place because you may lose the wireless connection. I understand that some Bluetooth implementations work well and I'd appreciate it very much if someone would send me just one example! This has nothing directly to do with WiFile, but the Bluetooth standards makers and designers should all be spanked. The WiFile Preferences dialog does not support Palm OS copy & paste, which becomes slightly irritating when you're trying to enter a series of local IP addresses. The dialog lets you enter as many IP addresses as you want, but the list is not scrollable so you can only see the first three addresses and there doesn't seem to be any way to jump to the end of the list either. This kind of user interface mistake is not characteristic of Hands High Software which has a fine stable of programs, some of which have superb user interfaces including ThoughtManager, ToDo Plus and MemoPlus. I'm still using WiFile - it's really handy - but fix this please Hands High.

Pros: IP driven connections make it easy to connect to anything that's shared and connected to your network, which means that Internet file transfers work nicely as does access through Virtual Private Network (VPN) software such as Mergic and Movian to allow secure access through a corporate firewall. Small, fast little utility. Stable despite our attempts to make it crash. Although our network coughed a few times, WiFile just reconnected on command. We managed to connect and transfer files to and from Windows computers and a Mac running OS 10.2. Fully compatible with Palm OS Exchange Manager which means we were able to browse the network, select a Word or Excel document and open it automatically in Documents To Go, all this without having to HotSync or use the Documents To Go client on the PC. Very handy again and it worked flawlessly. The HandsHigh Software WiFile Compatibility Guide states that access via Plug2Net has not been tested but we got it to work without any problems. The final real-world test we did with WiFile took place in my backyard, sitting on the deck where I connected to my wireless home network (Netgear wireless 802.11b/g router), plugged the headphones into the Sony Clié TH55 and streamed MP3 music via WiFile directly into PocketTunes. The sun was shining, the air was fresh and it was absolute heaven. WiFile is terrific. Highly recommended.

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