Connect your Pocket PC to a WIFI Access Point

If your Pocket PC is WIFI enabled, you can connect to the internet via a WIFI access point.  To verify that your Pocket PC is WIFI enabled, tap Start > Settings > System tab > Asset Viewer.  If you find a Wireless LAN module, then your Pocket PC is WIFI enabled.  If your Pocket PC is not WIFI enabled, there are SDIO WIFI cards you can purchase to make the Pocket PC WIFI enabled. 

In the article entitled, “How do I connect my Pocket PC to the internet,” I described three common types of WIFI access point configurations you will encounter:  Free (Open) Hotspots; “Subscription” Hotspots; and Encrypted or secure networks. 

This article will discuss some recommended settings you could use to facilitate connecting your Pocket PC to a WIFI Access Point as well as some generic and/or required router settings.  I have also included some tips regarding troubleshooting connection problems at the end of the article. 

Free (Open) Hotspots

Generally all you will need to do to connect to a free hotspot is turn on the Pocket PC’s WIFI radio.  The Pocket PC will detect the access point and automatically connect.  When the WIFI button turns from yellow to green, the device is connected to the internet and you can start surfing.

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“Subscription” Hotspots 

Your Pocket PC may detect these networks and even connect to them, but you will not be able to use them until you open up your browser and provide some additional information, such as a login and password or your credit card number. 

Encrypted or secure networks 

Your Pocket PC may detect secure networks, but the WIFI button will not turn green and you will not be able to connect to these networks unless you configure your Pocket PC with specific network security information.  See the Wi-Fi Manager section below to learn how to set up a secure network that uses WEP or WPA.  Secure networks will appear in the Pocket PC’s Configure Wireless Networks or WiFi Site Survey windows with a small lock next to them (tap the Manager > SiteSurvey tab).

In many free or paid hotspots, you may be required to open a new browser window on your Pocket PC before you can use email, instant messaging, or perform other internet functions. The browser window may pop up a log in screen, or you may be required to click “Okay” on the hotspot’s “terms and conditions” screen.   For example, when I turn on the WIFI radio at the University where I teach, the WIFI button turns green, but I am not able to do anything on the network until I open a new browser window and input my user name and password.

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Recommended Settings

There are some generic settings you can use with a Pocket PC to facilitate a smooth connection to the Internet through a wireless access point.  To establish your WIFI connection settings, you will configure your Pocket PC’s connection settings, confirm the WI-FI Adapter settings, and establish specific WIFI settings for preferred networks.

Configure Connection Settings

1) Tap Start > Settings > Connections tab > Connections icon.

2) Tap the Advanced tab.  Tap the Dialing Rules & Exceptions buttons to confirm that these options are unchecked and blank. Then tap the “Select Networks” button.

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3) Tap the down arrow to the right of  “My ISP” and select “My Work Network”

4) Tap the 1st Edit button, then tap the Proxy Settings tab.  Place a checkmark in the box next to “This network connects to the Internet.”  Leave everything else on this page blank. 

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Tap OK to return to the Network Management page.  Then tap the 2nd “Edit” button and place a checkmark in the box next to “This network connects to the Internet” just as you did for the 1st “Edit” button.  Tap OK > OK > OK to return to the Settings screen.

Review Wi-Fi Adapter settings

While you are on the Settings screen, tap the Networks Cards icon.

On the Configure Network Adapters screen, tap the down arrow to change the setting under “My network card connects to” from “The Internet” to “Work.”

Then tap “HP IPAQ Wi-Fi Adapter” to make sure the radio button next to “Use server-assigned IP address” is selected.

Tap the “Name Servers” tab and verify that the screen is blank.

Tap Ok.  Then tap Ok on the Adapters dialogue box and tap Ok to return to the Settings screen.

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Establish Wi-Fi Settings for Preferred Networks

On the Settings page, tap the IPAQ Wireless icon, then tap the WiFi button to turn on WiFi.

On a Windows Mobile 2003 device, tap the Settings button.

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On a WM5.0 device, tap the “View Wi-Fi Networks” hyperlink.

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Configure Wireless Networks:

When your Pocket PC detects a WiFi Access Point, it will attempt to connect to it (you can see in the screenshot that my Pocket PC is connected to the arkel network).

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The Pocket PC maintains the settings for any networks it is has connected to.  

To delete any of these network settings, press and hold your stylus on the network descriptor until a popup menu appears, then tap “Remove Settings.”

Networks to access:
Tapping the down arrow to the right of the “Networks to access” selection box will give you three choices:  All Available, Only access points, and Only computer-to-computer.  If you are in a noisy area (one with many different networks), select “Only access points.”

Preferred vs non-preferred networks (NOTE:  This option is only available on Windows Mobile 2003 devices):
When in an area with multiple network access points, the Pocket PC will detect and connect to the network with the strongest signal.  If you want the Pocket PC to connect only to networks you have established (or preferred networks), remove the checkmark in the box next to “Automatically connect to non-preferred networks.”

You define preferred networks by tapping “Add New…” and then inputting the specifics of the network.

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Add a New (Preferred) Network

Tapping the “Add New…” option returns a page where you can input the Network name of the network (or SSID) you wish to connect to.  This name must match the Network name that was assigned when the Access Point was configured.

Tap the down arrow to the far right of “Connects to” and change this setting to “Work.”

Configure Network Authentication

If you wish to connect to a secure network, tap the Network key tap to get to the “Configure Network Authentication” screen.

The “Configure Network Authentication” screen allows you to input the specific settings of an Open (unsecured) network, WPA or WPA-PSK authentication, or WEP encrypted network.

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Open (unsecured) network settings:

  • Authentication:  Open
  • Date Encryption: Disabled
  • The Key is provided for me automatically:  not applicable
  • Network key: not applicable
  • Key index:  not applicable

WPA or WPA-PSK authentication settings:

  • Authentication: WPA or WPA-PSK
  • Data Encryption: WEP or TKIP (NOTE: TKIP is not available on a WM5.0 device)
  • The key is provided for me automatically:  no checkmark
  • Network key:  Enter the exact pass phrase that was entered in the Access Point configuration (between 8 and 64 characters) – network keys are case sensitive:  capitals, lower-case, numbers and symbols must all be exactly the same.
  • Key index: not applicable

WEP encryption settings: 

  • Authentication: Open
  • Data Encryption: WEP
  • The key is provided for me automatically:  no checkmark
  • Network key:  Enter the exact 26 Hex digit encryption key that was entered in the Access Point configuration – network keys are case sensitive:  capitals, lower-case, numbers and symbols must all be exactly the same.  You cannot use a pass-phrase when using WEP encryption.
  • Key index: Should match the key index in the Access Point configuration. 

Tapping the 802.1x tab allows you to configure IEEE 802.1x network access control options with some EAP type options:  PEAP or Smart Card or Certificate.  Most users will not use this method of authentication so there should not be a checkmark in the box next to “Use IEEE 802.1x network access control.”

Once you have finished inputting the network’s specific authentication options, tap the OK > OK to exit WIFI Settings.  Then soft reset the Pocket PC (this should save write all your settings to the registry).

WI-FI Manager (windows mobile 2003 devices only)

From the WIFI control panel, tap the Manager button.  The Wi-Fi Manager provides information about your network connection and allows you to configure a few Advanced options.

Status tab provides two buttons:

  • Configure:  tapping this button takes you to the “Configure Wireless  Networks” page of Wi-Fi Settings
  • More:  tapping this button displays a screen that shows your signal strength, and provides some network information (DHCP, IP Address, Subnet Mask, Gateway).  You can also renew your IP address on this screen if DHCP is enabled. 

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SiteSurvey tab provides information about available networks.  The blue icon next to “arkel” indicates that this network is encrypted.  Tapping the “Refresh” button refreshes the network connection.

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Advanced tab provides access to some additional options:

  • Roaming Trigger:  Causes the Pocket PC to search for another access point when the device has No Signal or a Poor Signal (less than -70dBm), depending on which option is set
  • Power Save Mode: If set to Auto, the Pocket PC will adjust power usage based on the WIFI signal strength.  You have three options:  Auto,
    Extended, and Disabled.  If you have problems maintaining your WIFI connection, disable power saving mode.  If you wish to preserve your battery, select extended mode.

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Version tab displays information about the Wifi driver,  configuration utility, firmware and the MAC address of the wireless adapter.

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Wi-Fi Advanced options (some WM5.0 devices only)

Some WM5.0 devices provide an Advanced hyperlink that reveals additional information about your network connection and to set some additional options.  (The rx1950 does not include this link, but the hw6925 does).

  • Main tab shows information about the network and you can tap the Renew IP button
  • Settings tab shows a graphic of the Power Save Mode.  You can move the related slider to the left to improve your WIFI signal or get better performance; or you can move the slider to the right to preserve battery life.  There is also an option to turn the WLAN off after some period of time and you can set the Roaming Trigger Mode to “No Signal” or “Poor Signal”
  • SiteSurvey tab provides information about available networks.  The blue icon next to “arkel” indicates that this network is encrypted.  Tapping the “Refresh” button refreshes the network connection.

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Router Hints

If you install a wireless network in your home, here are some router configurations you should be sure to use:

  • Enable DHCP or DHCP server; set Pocket PC to “Use server-assigned IP address”
  • Most Pocket PCs can only use 802.11b mode, so set the router to use “mixed” or “802.11b and 802.11g” mode.  (Note:  the rx4000 & rx5000 Mobile Media Companion Pocket PCs support both b & g modes)
  • Disable any accelerator features.
  • Set preamble to “long”

Troubleshooting Connection Problems

Sometimes, the Pocket PC may appear to connect (the button turns green) to the network but when you open up the browser and attempt to go to a particular website you may receive a “Page Not Found” message.  When you receive this message, you may be able to use network resources, such as networked printers, but you are not able gain access to the internet.  If you run into problems:

  • Remove all security from your network.  Then check to see if you are able to make a good connection with no security.  Only after you’ve been able to achieve a good internet connection should you add the security back to the router and the Pocket PC
  • For WEP encrypted networks, make sure you have entered the full 26 Hex digit encryption code into the Pocket PC.  Do not use a pass-phrase and make sure you have entered the code exactly as it appears on your router (the code is case sensitive)
  • Make sure the router is set to mixed mode or 802.11b mode only
  • Verify that the Pocket PC’s MAC address shows up in the router’s “DHCP Client List.”  To find the Pocket PC’s MAC address, tap Start > Settings > System > HP Asset Viewer > Wireless LAN
  • Check the router website to see if there are any updates posted for the router.  If you find an update, install it to the router
  • Check the Pocket PC Support & Driver’s page to see if there are any updates posted for the device.  If you find an update, install it.  (HP has recently posted some device driver updates for the hx2000 models that have fixed problems with WPA security)
  • Try the so called “Welcome” cure:  Open File Explorer on the Pocket PC and navigate to the Windows folder, search for and tap the file called Welcome. It will look like the Pocket PC is performing a hard reset and you will be returned to the alignment page, but you will not lose any data.
  • Remove your Pocket PC’s battery for 30 seconds to reset the hardware
  • Power cycle the router (turn off, then turn on)
  • Sometimes a complete reset of the router sets things straight.

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